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Interview:
Eminem Re-Ups The Ante For Shady Crew
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK





Do you want losers or winners? This music is in us, and it's not over 'til we say it's finished. -- Eminem, "The Re-Up"



Shady's back -- in a big way.

Less than a year and a half after overstated reports of his retirement, Detroit rapper and Oakland Township resident Eminem is delivering new music, and in a way he never has before.

Rather than a fresh album of his own, "Eminem Presents: The Re-Up" -- due in stores Tuesday (December 5th) but already leaked online -- finds Eminem (real name Marshall Mathers III) proudly showing off the stable of rappers in his Shady Records camp. He appears on nine tracks and produces 11, including four of his own, and is joined by fellow multi-platinum super star 50 Cent, his Detroit rap crew D12, Motor City rapper Obie Trice and Lloyd Banks from 50 Cent's G-Unit. It also sports a remix of Akon's chart-topping hit "Smack That."

But those established acts are "The Re-Up's" worms on the hook. The 22-track album's real purpose is to introduce the Shady label's three newest acts -- Stat Quo and Bobby Creekwater from Atlanta and Chicago's Ca$his.

"It gets them in front of our fans," says Paul Rosenberg, Eminem's Oakland County-raised manager and Shady Records vice-president. "We believe we have a really strong fan base. By putting this record out with (tracks by) Em and 50 and other artists they know, people get to check the new guys out," in advance of their own releases in 2007.

Rosenberg says a Ca$his EP and a Stat Quo album will probably hit in the first quarter of 2007, while Creekwater's debut will drop during the summer.

"The Re-Up" was actually conceived as a low-key, underground mix-tape that would be distributed hand-to-hand and via word of mouth rather than by a conventional release. But, Eminem noted in a statement, "the material was so good and the tracks were getting produced like a regular album. Instead of putting it out there rough and unfinished, I thought we should add some other new tracks, make it a real album."

Rosenberg adds that, "as Em does with everything, he's extremely meticulous and has high quality control standards. ('The Re-Up') just started turning out really great, so rather than just put it in the streets and not really control the distribution of it, we decided to make it official because of the quality and scope of the music.

"We certainly weren't going to have nine songs with Eminem on them and four songs with 50 Cent on them in the original version of it. Once we decided to make it an official release, we threw all the bells and whistles on it."

"The Re-Up" certainly has plenty of Eminem to please fans hungry for fresh material since the three new tracks that appeared on last year's "Curtain Call: The Hits." He strikes a characteristically defiant pose in "Public Enemy" and on the album-closing "No Apologies" ("Do not tell me to stop yelling/When I stop selling I quit") and trumpets the virtues of the Shady stable on "We're Back." He and 50 Cent playfully spit at each other on the title track and "Jimmy Crack Corn" (the latter of which references Eminem's fling with Mariah Carey), while the two hip-hop icons bring in Ca$hish and Banks for the smoothly loping first single, "You Don't Know."

Other notable tracks include Trice's version of D12's "Pistol Pistol," Stat Quo and Creekwater joining Akon on the "Smack That" remix, and a new treatment of Eminem's "Shake That" on which he's joined by Trice, Creekwater and Nate Dogg.

The album does not include a tribute to slain D12 co-founder Proof -- " 'The Re-Up' is about these new artists and these new songs. It isn't fair to them or the memory of Proof to mix them up," Eminem noted -- but the late MC is featured on the minute-long "Trapped" and referenced in a new remix of Trice's "Cry Now."

" 'The Re-Up' is a real back-to-basics thing," Rosenberg explains. "It still has the whole vibe of a mix-tape. It's not a pop or extremely commercial sounding album. It's really about the art form and flexing your muscles as a rapper.

"I would say it's the first time Em has really been able to go in as a producer and just make records that he really likes that don't have a specific commercial or marketing purpose. It's really just a collection of great art from these guys."

Rosenberg adds that "I don't think anybody has expectations ('The Re-Up') is going to sell like an Eminem or a 50 Cent album would by itself, but we certainly are putting all our efforts into it to get it out there."

That effort started with the airing of the "You Don't Know" video during the World Series and has continued with an elaborate Internet contest with a variety of prizes -- including special edition Vans sneakers, autographed prints of the album cover, which Eminem drew, and trips to the NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas.

Shady has been holding listening parties for the album around the country, and there are rumors of some sort of live appearance to promote it on Tuesday, though nothing has been confirmed yet.

"Obviously we expect to do well with it," says Mike Himes, owner of the Record Time stores in Ferndale and Roseville. "With Eminem's name on it and a few other bigger artists, people are going to look their way and pick it up and go, 'Hmm, what's it all about?'

"It's not just like an Eminem album, or a 50 Cent album, but I think its something that will still get people excited."



[sidebar]

SHADY CHARACTERS

Who's who on "The Re-Up:"

Eminem -- Aka Slim Shady, aka Marshall Mathers III, aka...Well, you know. The first citizen and guiding light of Shady Records making a "comeback" after overstated reports of his retirement. He's also working on his next film project, an update of the Western "Have Gun, Will Travel," and recording the next D12 album

50 Cent -- The New York rapper (real name Curtis Jackson III) was Shady's first big success after Eminem and has since launched his own label imprint named after his G-Unit crew.

D12 -- The Detroit rap collective co-founded by Eminem and the late Proof. Proof appears posthumously on one brief track while the other D12 members are spread throughout the album. The group is currently working on its third album.

Obie Trice -- The sly Clown Prince of Shady who has recently incorporated a more serious bent to his lyrics. He appears on five "Re-Up" tracks.

Lloyd Banks -- One of 50 Cent's chief G-Unit soldiers who released his second solo album, "Rotten Album," in October.

Nate Dogg -- The Los Angeles rapper (aka Nathaniel Hale) has released five albums of his own but is better known for a long list of collaborations with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, Kurupt, The Game, Obie Trice and others.

Stat Quo -- Atlanta rapper (aka Stanley Benton) has recorded with Eminem, YOung Back, The Game, Chamillionaire and Jermaine Dupri, and was featured on the 2005 Anger Management Tour. His debut album, "Statlanta," is due next spring.

Ca$his -- Though based in Chicago, the MC hails from Orange County, Calif., technically making him Shady's first West Coast signing. An EP, "A Talk With Ca$his," is expected out in the spring.

Bobby Creekwater -- Another Atlanta-based MC (real name Antoine Rogers), Creekwater is a former marketing student who dropped out of Clark-Atlanta University to pursue a recording career. A deal with Loud Records didn't pan out, but Shady signed him after hearing Creekwater on another artist's demo tape. His first album is due in the summer of 2007.



[sidebar]

SHY OF RETIRING

Since overstated reports of his "retirement" surfaced during the 2005 Anger Management Tour, Eminem has been laying low -- but not entirely out of the spotlight. Some of the notable things that transpired in the last 16 months included:

August 5, 2005 -- Anger Management Tour finishes North American run at Detroit's Comerica Park, where Eminem endorses Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's run for re-election.

August 17, 2005 -- Eminem pulls out of Anger Management's European leg and enters [doug -- getting the name of the place and will forward to you. -- gg] to treat an addiction to sleeping pills.

December 6, 2006 -- Eminem releases "Curtain Call: The Hits," which debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.

December 27, 2005 -- Eminem appears on "Welcome 2 Detroit," the first single from Detroit rapper Trick Trick's debut album "The People Vs."

January 14, 2006 -- Eminem remarries wife Kim, who he divorced in 2001, at a ceremony and party at Meadow Brook Hall.

February 4, 2006 -- Eminem and Shady Records host a Super Bowl XL party at Detroit's State Theatre. Eminem performs and Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee is assaulted.

April 5, 2006 -- Eminem and Kim file for a second divorce.

April 19, 2006 -- Eminem is among the speakers at Proof's funeral at Detroit's Fellowship Chapel. The MC was shot in a bar fight eight days earlier on Detroit's east side.

October 9, 2006 -- Macomb County prosecutors clear Eminem of charges resulting from an altercation with his 13-year-old niece following an argument.

November 26, 2006 -- The Akon single "Smack That," which features Eminem, hits No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.



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