Eminem's new Shady/Aftermath compilation Eminem Presents the Re-Up is the latest hip-hop release to make an early "debut" on the net, which means that I've been spending the past few hours weeding out the crap from the quality. Considering we've got 22 tracks and that they run the gamut from recycled beats to relative genius, it took some work.
There are several quality songs on the album, most notably all of the stuff that Stat Quo is featured on (especially "Get Low" and "Tryin to Win"). Obviously, this is a good sign for the Aftermath's Atlanta rep and should serve to raise expectations for the long-awaited Statlanta. Another general observation is that most of the stuff I really liked on this release came from all the producers other than Eminem.
Other than the remix to "Ski Mask Way" (which actually improves upon the overlooked Disco D original from The Massacre), Eminem doesn't really produce any true gems here, with the stellar cuts come courtesy of Alchemist, Dre, and Witt and Pep. Which sort of confirms my suspicion that Eminem isn't all that great of a producer and that he's been recycling his best song — Jay-Z's "Moment of Clarity" — for the past three years. But whatever.
One of the Dre tracks on the album is the title track, which isn't great as much as it is important. Why? Because <i>The Re-Up</i> announces the return of the Old 50 Cent. You know, the pre-Candy Shop 50, the "I'm not a marksman while sparkin' so I spray random" 50. There's no way to know whether this version is here to say or whether he will return to his quest of becoming the biggest R&B star on the planet, but I did an auditory double take the first time I heard this song.
The whole thing start off in rather innocuous fashion. A pretty mellow beat box kicks off the track before a throbbing base and typical Dre synth merge with a rather strange "boom, boom, cha" chant. The whole effect gives some sense of atmosphere and we are clued in that this is to be a "hard" track, especially when Eminem tries to launch into that aggressive style that used to be his whole persona but now feels like a role he's playing. He has a few typical Eminem rapid-fire rhymes that are on par with his verse from Obie Trice's "We All Die Someday" (probably his last great guest appearance), but certainly doesn't blow the lid off it.
By the time the song was 1:45 in, I was ready to chalk it up as a total loss, and I'll be honest, I definitely wasn't expecting Ferrari 50 to save the day. But boy does he ever. He launches right into a kiss my ass revelry that includes the lines "the clean parts/the s***** parts/my bullet wounds, my beauty marks/the fifth will tear your ass apart" and that just glides over the beat, suddenly making the previously boring track sound haunting and menacing. I hit rewind four times before moving on.
After a brief trip to Genericville (although it still sounds good), the beat changes up and splices in the instrumental from "In Da Club," which is both a little surprising but also kind of nice, like getting a phone call from an old friend. And the change of pace is perfect, because 50 switches his flow up right along with the beat. Not only that, but he pulls off his greatest coup on the track within this mini interlude as he combats all of the vitriol and recent success of the Game with just a few bars, rhyming: "I carried Game's style for nine months and gave birth to it/now I feel like a proud father watching him do it." 50 really only has one card to play with Game and that is that he, in effect, "made him." I'm not sure I agree with the sentiment, especially since Game seems better now without 50, but the argument sure was presented beautifully. Less is more and all that.
After the brief segue into 50's favorite pastime of dissing Game, the beat is flipped back to the throbbing bassline, which 50 greets with manic energy and hammers home ("Every day is Dre day, front and cause a melee/turn a town upside down/with a frown upside down/I smile and do something foul/and watch my money pile/I'm f****** with straight stacks/I'm kicking you straight facts/I hit you where they bag it punk and bring me mine right back").
All told, it's my favorite 45 seconds of 50 Cent since he obliterated Ja Rule on "Back Down." And I have to tell you, it makes this song one to remember. We can only hope this version of 50 Cent (he also provides some memorable lyrics two tracks later on "Jimmy Crack Corn") is here to stay.
Track Score: 8/10.
50's Verse: 9.5/10