The Return Of Eminem: Too Little, Too Late?

Early reactions to Eminem’s comeback (now in progress!) seem, well, sort of split. The reaction to “I’m Having A Relapse, which leaked yesterday, seems to be about 75% as loud as the buzz surrounding his new book, The Way I Am. However, nothing would make me happier in this mixed up music biz than if this record–which is allegedly going to come out as part of the Great Rush To The Exits Of Q4 2008–bombed.

Last time we heard much from Eminem–in 2005–he served up a mixed bag of various bad signs, including insiders mumbling that he’d lost his ability to make hits somewhere. There are already some warning signs of impending disaster, with Elton John reportedly jetting to Detroit in order to work on some sort of duet/continued flogging of their show of solidarity at the 2001 Grammys. Still, Dr. Dre is taking care of the beats and apparently Eminem is focused on returning strong.

Detroit hip-hop artist Trick Trick, whose upcoming album “The Villain” includes contributions from Eminem, said the material he’s heard is “old school with a new twist” — and finds the rapper embracing his early musical persona.

“I can tell you this much: Slim Shady is back. Not Marshall Mathers,” he said. “Slim Shady, that jackass everybody fell in love with? Yeah, he’s back.”…

Eminem will arrive at a pop-music world in transition. Hip-hop sales are down, club music is morphing, the Top 40 demographic is older. His own fan base has matured: The class of ’99 has its 30s in sight.

Despite that, said radio industry observer Sean Ross, the rapper will likely enjoy big-time buzz. At his peak, after all, Eminem “was the Rolling Stones of 1975 to a 17-year-old.”

“It’s certainly gotten harder, but at this moment, there’s nothing else so phenomenal that he wouldn’t get attention,” Ross said.

To me, hearing the same misogyny and random bursts of juvenile hate speech from a 36-year-old man sounds like the worst listening experience ever. But who can explain the market these days? Maybe you can:

Eminem hits the mic again [Detroit Free Press]