The Re-Up

Artist: Eminem Presents...Title: The Re-UpRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana

Let's just give Eminem the benefit of the doubt and say that he is working with a sketchy connect, because The Re-Up (Interscope) did not reload enough. If you're tired of South American cocaine analogies, here is the situation bluntly. Eminem is easily an inductee to Hip-Hop's hall of fame, but that does not mask worries that he is just hasn't been the same since The Marshall Mathers LP. Blame it on Dre. Blame it on Benzino's biased journalism. Blame it on Em's nepotistic selection of rap running mates. Blame it on Em's courageous venture into the world of producing (about which we will just euphemistically say that it's a craft he is still learning). Whatever it is, the magical Marshall Mathers is missing his musical muster.

Still, no matter which factors you choose to explain The Re-Up's disappointment, do not, absolutely do not blame it on Eminem's mic presence. It's been 8 years since the world's been acquainted with Slim Shady, and for the most part it's jaws are still open with awe. On The Re-Up's title track, Em intricately preaches, "Once again it's the/Illest and realest killer the most villainous/Dre protege Shady apprentice..." The flow is so hot you can't just give Eminem props. You also gotta give 50 Cent props for having the courage to spit on the same track.

The Re-Up is lost between an Alchemist mixtape, a full length album, and a Shady Records commercial. Eminem turns marketeer as he introduces Shady Records signee Stat Quo. Words like "Eminem's protege" may get thrown around, but recall Jay-Z and Memphis Bleek and Nas and Nashawn and the excitement drops like an anvil on Yosemite Sam. Don't get it wrong, Stat Quo's solo track, "By My Side", with its southern drawl dimes does give it star potential, but for now, Stat Quo himself is still on tadpole status.

One has to be harsh on Eminem because, on account of his 22nd century flow, we hold him to a lofty standard. The one disclaimer is that The Re-Up is by no means an Eminem solo album. The effort is a firm effort. Obie Trice does his thing, and tracks like "You Don't Know" featuring 50 Cent, Eminem, Cashis & Lloyd Banks are deserving of a DJ's index finger. The beats got Alchemist's golden DNA, the rhymes got Eminem's platinum genes, but the product does not put the "chrome" in chromosomes.