Those who thought Eminem would tone down his shocking rhymes on the follow-up to his controversial The Marshall Mathers LP thought wrong.
At least according to his mentor, Dr. Dre, who has handed over most of the producing duties on The Eminem Show, due May 28, to Slim Shady himself.
"His album is crazy. I mean, what more can I say? It's Eminem to the fullest," Dre said Wednesday at his Burbank, California, recording studio. "Everybody that digs the first two albums is gonna love this one."
Rumors that the album would be more serious are not true, according to the Dr., who is still finishing his tracks with Eminem.
"Well, I do feel he has matured as a lyricist, but I don't know if [saying he's] moving in a different direction is accurate," Dre said. "His stuff is really crazy to me because just when you think, 'OK, he has run out of stuff to say, he can get no crazier than this,' something comes out of his face that gives you chills or something. Makes the hair crawl on your skin. So I think the shock value of Eminem is definitely gonna still be there, but it's just getting better."
Eminem will come out with a bang on his first single, "Without Me," which his Interscope Records spokesperson said was reminiscent of the lead singles from The Slim Shady LP ("My Name Is") and The Marshall Mathers LP ("The Real Slim Shady"). A video for "Without Me," which was produced by Eminem, will be shot next week.
"His production skills are getting really nice," Dre said. "I think there is one song that has Nate Dogg on it, but most of the album is just him. He's singing a lot. He's singing and doing a lot of his own choruses and harmonies. The whole nine yards."
R&B singer Truth Hurts, Dr. Dre's latest protégé, said she recorded vocals for The Eminem Show several months ago in Detroit.
"It came out hot," she said. "I think it is kind of a spinoff of Rockwell's 'Somebody's Watching Me,' 'cause I remember singing those melodies. We did that a while ago, before he started getting into the record full-force, so I don't know what songs he's going to use. Hopefully that's one of them."
Legendary rapper Rakim, who recently signed with Dre's Aftermath Records, said he'll likely make a last-minute contribution.
"He's got a joint that he said has got my name on it," Rakim said. "It is like a family thing over here. I respect Em a lot. When Em flows, you hear skills, you hear words that a lot of brothers forgot about sometimes. That's what it is all about."
Rakim has heard a few tracks from Eminem's album and said to expect even more clever rhymes and twisted humor.
"I am not going to say he cleaned nothing up, don't get me wrong, but he's definitely speaking at a different level," Rakim said. "It is more mature, but at the same time it is still Em. He's gonna [make you think], 'Man, he said that?' Put it this way: he stepped the skills up."
Corey Moss, with additional reporting by Sway Calloway