Eminem Re-Ups a Premature Package
Eminem is fed up of being fed up. His internal frustrations have flared and festered and worse have decided to rap. If you can't see it, then you can hear it, and in lieu of assessing his mental state, have probably ignored it. He surrounds himself with his artists that are soon converted to watchdogs, and then, proxies--trying to do what Eminem cannot: appear in control. Eminem experiments with emo-rap for most of the album, screaming and scrambling lyrics with unfounded verve and precise lunacy.
"Everything Is Shady"
Part of the album plays on an old psychological trick by drowning Em's insecurities and vulnerabilities with bigger, badder personalities, while the rest serves as a Get Well card ("Everything Is Shady," "We Ride For Shady," "By My Side"), culling up the most radically loyal lines. His artists don't understand or recognize their healing mentor and romp all over Em's issues without ever probing. In the past, music was his therapy, his new psychologist is not so convenient or concrete; his psychologist cannot be summoned, only recommended personal time to himself. Em is not yet ready to return as much as he'd like to believe otherwise. Nothing can repair Mr. Slim Shady's psyche (at least it seems), definitely not Lloyd Banks, 50 cent, Bobby Creekwater, or any other artist on his label.
The Re-Up Is a Hot Mess
It doesn't matter that Ca$his is a prime talent or that the album has a bunch of decent (even great) moments. "Cry Now Remix" comes to memory, Eminem lurks on the tracks with his drippy psychosis persistently punishing himself and his cohorts. It's a mess. He does manage to spare a sane moment on "No Apologies," over drifting keyboards, "They don't see that I'm wounded // all they did is ballooned it." But, this comes belatedly as the track "isn't for you, it's for mee." It's a brave, bold act from a man who's used the entire album as a crutch and puke plate, "they can suck my d***, while I'm pukin'."
He reveals the emotional IQ of a scared girl--ok, maybe a trapped soul--ecstatic about nothing and melodramatic about everything. Instead of being emotional buffers, his artists are part of the problem, engaging Eminem with a flurry of misguided efforts. He can't even find solace in his or others' production. The beats contain too much static or are too menacing with odd mechanical sonics that are so unnatural-sounding, Em loses footing before ever really standing up.
The Re-Up Aims High and Hits Low
It's hard to imagine that Emimem wanted this album to happen. It's a premature surprise party that snidely skulks and then scares and even forces Eminem to sulk most of the time. It misses high, hits too low, and schmoozes the rest of the way ("Smack That (remix)", "Get Low"). Worse, it broadcasts incomplete stages of a healing man; it's too personal to be anything more than a visit to the psychologist. His knee-jerk raps are not thought-out but violently visceral. In psychology, this is called depression; in hip hop it's called mediocrity.
Pre-tragedy, pre-rehab, Eminem sounds demonic and brilliant whereas his straightjacket-clad doppelganger is sloppy and nervous. It doesn't sound like a man defeated but of a man conflicted and complacent about his condition: "I maybe off drugs, but it's made me off track".
If you want to help Eminem on his road to recovery, then treat The Re-up as a recap of the last year or so (with a few highlights) and don't bother paying much interest (or dollars) to his raps because his session is in progress. And, don't forgot to flip the sign on the way out from this listening session: DO NOT DISTURB.