Seemed like drama was always something Eminem craved, but in the year leading up to The Re-Up, the drama was heavy, a really, really bad kind of heavy. He checked himself into rehab, got remarried for a few months to the infamous Kim before that went south, then his best man and best friend Proof is murdered in a bizarre and depressing incident that made all the gangster talk that came previously extra chilling. A mixtape that was originally planned to be released on the underground circuit, The Re-Up has plenty of that serious heat that influenced Eminem to go aboveground with the release. There's the surging remix of 50 Cent's "Ski Mask Way," the excellent all-star single "You Don't Know," a couple clever redo's of Akon's "Smack That" single with various members of the Shady family, and "There He Is" with newcomer Bobby Creekwater living up to his hype over a rich Alchemist beat. Tacked onto the end is Eminem's shining moment, "No Apologies," which speaks to his frozen heart, then lashes out at critics. The man's lyrical dexterity is on display for the soul-searching closer, there's no doubt about that, but the target is questionable, since it didn't really seem like Em was getting a critical drubbing in 2006. A diversion maybe? Could be, since he's sidestepping a whole lot of the other issues here. While Proof gets his due with the intro to his unreleased track "Trapped," this is hardly his memorial, plus his D12 brothers Bizarre and Kuniva are in no hurry to lay off the gun talk with their visceral and knowingly irresponsible "Murder." The quick marriage/divorce and rehab are barely noted, either, and while Em has every right to keep whatever he wants private, longtime fans looking for that usual candor are in for a shock. Instead of using the mixtape format as an up-to-the-minute dispatch from the soul, Em has decided to bring the Shady empire back into focus with The Re-Up. 50 Cent and his G-Unit crew are brought back into the Shady scene when it seemed they just about outgrew it, and with Creekwater, Cashis, and Stat Quo all anxious to become "rookie of the year," the Shady spotlight is validated. Once the Eminem hardcore accept that this is more about the whole talented and hungry crew than the man with a devastating year on his hands, they'll co-sign.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
feat: Obie Trice
feat: Bobby Creekwater