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Eminem Drops a New Cd


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Saturday, May 16, 2009

After a long hiatus, Eminem drops a new CD

Rapper hopes to hit top of charts again with first album since 2004.

Adam Graham / Detroit News Pop Music Writer

"Guess who," Eminem greets listeners during the intro to "We Made You," the debut single from his first album in nearly 4 1/2 years. "Did you miss me?"

We'll get the answer to that question Tuesday, when "Relapse" -- Eminem's first studio album since 2004's "Encore" -- finally hits store shelves.

Signs point to yes, as the mischievous Detroit rapper puts on a full-scale media blitz to rev up interest in his long-awaited comeback. Despite his time away from the limelight, Eminem still ranks as one of music's biggest artists, but some question if his time off has caused his relevancy to lapse.

"A lot of people are wondering, commercially, is he going to perform like he has in the past?" says Eskay, founder of the well-trafficked, influential hip-hop blog nahright.com. "I think how this album does is going to go a long way towards determining whether or not that 'superstar' label is going to stick."

But it won't be easy. Not only have music sales eroded with the Internet and with downloading, but in the hip-hop world, stars like Lil Wayne and Kanye West release new material on a near-constant basis, flooding the market with songs and giving them away for free.

Eminem finds himself at an interesting crossroads: He's a superstar in a decidedly non-superstar era.

Adding to the challenge, the 36-year-old is coming off a rocky couple of years that saw him check into rehab for drug addiction, remarry and quickly divorce his ex-wife, Kim Scott, and suffer the shooting death of his best friend, Deshaun "Proof" Holton.

Following these incidents, Em retreated even further from the spotlight he had begun to shun. Though he released "Eminem Presents: The Re-Up," in late 2006, he largely ceded the mike to his Shady Records labelmates. In the years since, with his career at a near-standstill, he was dogged by rumors of ballooning weight and drug problems, and during the holidays in 2007, he was rushed to the hospital after what was reported as a bout with pneumonia but he has since admitted was a near-fatal drug overdose.

Then in October, all of a sudden Eminem was -- as he has rapped many times before -- back, back again. He re-emerged with his hardbound memoir, "The Way I Am," and announced a new album was imminent. And since last month, he's been everywhere: He appeared in a video tribute to Detroit during CBS' Final Four coverage; he inducted Run DMC into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Cleveland; he's been on magazine covers from Vibe to XXL; and he released a pair of music videos, one for the celeb-skewering "We Made You" and one for the violent horror fantasy "3 a.m."

If you missed him before, you don't anymore.

Still, the industry Eminem is returning to is vastly different than the one he left behind earlier this decade. Downloading has eroded the industry's bottom line to unthinkable lows; this week's No. 1 album, Chrisette Michelle's "Epiphany," topped the charts with a mere 83,000 sales, the lowest total for a No. 1-debuting album since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales data in 1991.

Illegal leaks of albums had dogged Eminem before, but they weren't nearly as persistent as they are today, when just about every album hits the Internet before its official release. Indeed, "Relapse" hit the Internet in its entirety May 7, nearly two weeks before its official release date.

In some ways, he's adapted well to the new world: A viral Web site tied to "Relapse" got people buzzing about the new album, and Eminem has amassed 75,000 followers on his Twitter feed.

On the other hand, "Relapse's" first single, "We Made You," was met with collective blahs from around cyberspace when it debuted last month. "We Made You" contains references to a host of tabloid celebs, while its video pokes fun at Jessica Simpson's weight and 1988's Tom Cruise-Dustin Hoffman-starring drama "Rain Man" -- not exactly cutting-edge stuff, say Em's critics.

The ballad-like, heartfelt "Beautiful," which was released through Apple's iTunes Music Store on Tuesday, has gotten better response.

"When he put out 'We Made You,' callers were like, 'You're bashing celebs; it's kind of the same old stuff,' " says Beau Daniels, music director at WKQI-FM (95.5).

"But when they heard 'Beautiful,' it was such a different sound in many people's ears, and I think that's what people have been waiting for. They were like, 'Wow, finally he delivered a different sound.' "

Critical reaction to "Relapse" has been mixed. Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly both weighed in with glowing reviews, the former granting the album four out of five stars and the latter grading it an A-, while the pop music critics at Chicago's two daily newspapers both eviscerated the album with 1-star reviews.

Online, fans have liked what they've heard, which bodes well for the rapper's return to the top.

"The comments are overwhelmingly positive," says Joe Fleischer, chief marketing officer for Big Champagne, a service that monitors online file sharing.

He says data indicate the album has been downloaded more than 300,000 times. "If the question is if people care about a new Eminem record being out, the answer is, absolutely."

agraham@detnews.com (313) 222-2284

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Shady's sales

Eminem, second to only Tupac Shakur on the list of all-time best-selling rappers, was one of the last artists to earn monster sales before the record industry collapsed in mid-decade. Numbers are in millions.

The Marshall

Mathers LP (2000)


The Eminem Show (2002)


The Slim Shady LP (1999)


Encore (2004)


8 Mile (Soundtrack) (2003)


Curtain Call: The Hits (2005)


Eminem Presents:

The Re-Up (2006)


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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Eminem treats laid-off auto worker to 'Kimmel' show

Adam Graham / Detroit News Pop Music Writer

Eminem appeared on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Friday, joined in the studio audience by around 200 laid-off Detroit-area auto workers.

"I know rappers travel with an entourage," host Kimmel joked with the Detroit rapper, "this seems a little excessive, though."

The audience was flown on a chartered plane from Detroit to Los Angeles on Friday for the taping, in a move cooked up by Eminem to help put a human face on the auto crisisin Detroit. The audience members, who are due to fly back today, will also be given tickets to Eminem's top-secret concert in Detroitnext week.

Kimmel opened the showby welcoming the "Michiganders" to thestudio,holding up the palm of his right hand as a map of Michigan and pointing to where Detroit would be. He greeted the "former and hopefully future" auto workers, and said he wanted to bring them to Los Angeles "to experience, first hand, the smog you helped create."

He later joked about the toughness of the audience, saying they"could kick any studio audience anywhere's"behinds. Kimmel thenaired a mock ad spoofing the upcoming season of the reality dating show "The Bachelorette," withthe twistthat the show's starwould be vying for the love of a union auto worker.

Eminem joined Kimmel for a short talk segment, and spoke of how Elton John helped him get through his recent bout with drugs. He later performed "We Made You" on the show's outdoor stage, with D12's Denaun Porter joining him in the hype man role formerly filled by Em's best friend, the late Deshaun "Proof"Holton.

Mike Tyson was also a guest on Friday's show.

Eminem is also due to appear on Kimmel Tuesday, the day his new album "Relapse" hits stores, and May 22. The May 22 appearance will include a performance from next week's concert in Detroit.

Sponsors who helpedbring the audience members from Detroit to L.A.included Delta Airlines and 5-Hour Energy.

agraham@detnews.com (313) 222-2284

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Eminem energized in Detroit concert comeback

Adam Graham / Detroit News Pop Music Writer

Eminem returned to the stage Tuesday for the first time in more than three years with a 35-minute performance at MotorCity Casino's 7-month-old Sound Board venue.

A healthy-looking, energized Em opened the eight song mini-set, tied to Tuesday's release of his new album "Relapse," with the violent horror fantasy "3 a.m." Dressed in a black T-shirt, black hat and gray zip-up sweatshirt, he hit the stage pounding his fist to the drumroll that opens the song, while the capacity crowd of more than 2,000 welcomed Slim Shady back with open arms.

During the song, Em's jittery mannerisms were amplified by the song's stuttering rhythms, and he appeared genuinely excited to be back on stage after his hiatus from performing.

"This might actually be one of the best shows I've ever done, 'cause when I get off stage I'm actually going to remember it," said the newly sober rapper, periodically sipping from a water bottle. He asked how many in the people in the crowd were partying, and asked them to in turn party for him, because "I can't anymore," he said.

Em performed seven songs from his "Relapse" album, including "Insane," the ballad-like "Beautiful," "We Made You" and portions of "Hello" and "Crack a Bottle," the latter of which crackled with a madcap energy not apparent on the record.

Em was joined on stage throughout the performance by D12's Denaun Porter, who played the role of Em's hype man, a spot left vacant by the 2006 shooting death of Eminem's best friend, Proof. Em paid tribute to Proof during the show, saying he was nervous taking the stage without his partner-in-rhyme, and ordering the crowd to cheer "loud enough so he can hear y'all."

Eminem seemed to rely heavily on backing tracks during most of the songs, but took full command of the microphone during "Underground," which stylistically harkens back to Em's early days.

During the concert's encore, a set-closing rendition of his Oscar-winning hit "Lose Yourself," Eminem was joined on stage by his fellow D12 band mates Bizarre, Kuniva and Swift, marking the group's first on-stage appearance since Proof's death. Em dedicated the song to Detroit and the resilience of its citizens. "We can do it, y'all. Keep your heads up," he said.

In the days and weeks leading up to the show, the free concert was the hottest ticket in town, with tickets commanding hundreds of dollars on online auction sites such as eBay. Tickets were given out through numerous promotions and giveaways, and the concert's setting was kept secret until 48 hours before showtime

Tuesday's concert marked Eminem's first Detroit concert appearance since 2006. Em's last on-stage appearance in his hometown was at the Shady Bowl Super Party, tied to Super Bowl XL, and his last full-on Detroit concert was at the closing date of the Anger Management 3 tour at Comerica Park in August 2005. Eminem entered rehab not long after the Comerica Park show.

The Tuesday concert -- which was also attended by Detroit rapper Trick Trick and R&B singer Dwele -- was the latest piece of the puzzle in what's been an exhaustive promotional blitz for "Relapse." The MySpace-sponsored show was taped by professional camera crews, and one of the performances from the show is scheduled to air on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on Friday.

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