The good news: Every vocal entry from Eminem on this compilation is strong, and the advanced flow he’s had recently is finally coupled with generally worthwhile lyrics. The bad news: Although they’re talented, the number of Southern emcees in the Shady camp now rebalances the sound. Bobby Creekwater, Stat Quo, and Ca$ish all have talent and distinct abilities, but their presence shifts certain songs into gangsta southern pop-hop territory. However, that element adds to the consistency of the mixtape, and is only bolstered by people like 50 Cent and Obie Trice, whose contributions are all high-quality.
Beyond repetitive Akon posse cut “Smack That (Remix),” all’s well here for fans of tough talk and Eminem’s humorous self-analysis, highlighted on “Public Enemy No. 1,” a sort of combination of “Lose Yourself” and “Mosh.” On the brief paranoid parable, Em describes himself as “a bloodsucking leech/ who hid behind freedom of speech” and brings up the self-fulfilling destiny of rappers predicting their deaths on wax.
He continues his reflective and hostile phase on “No Apologies,” where he both dismisses and highlights his personal issues. If these entries indicate what his future recordings will sound like, blue skies are starting to show in Eminem’s musically cloudy present. Alchemist, Mr. Porter and Havoc lend good, unobtrusive production throughout, and Nate Dogg makes a welcome appearance on the simplistic but entertaining “Shake That (Remix).” Songs dedicated to the slain Proof add poignancy to what could have been primarily a party tape. The members of the crew surrounding Eminem still need to distinguish themselves individually, but in the tradition of G-Unit/Shady’s best stuff, few songs on The Re-Up have to be skipped.