Due out November 16th, Eminem's hotly anticipated Encore marks a strong return to the rapper's Slim Shady persona. On September 14th in Los Angeles, Interscope president Jimmy Iovine hosted a listening party for retailers, during which he played several Dr. Dre-produced tracks.
"The cuts we heard were very political," says one record-store buyer. "Eminem's distaste for the Bush administration is pretty clear."
Among the tracks is "Encore," featuring Dr. Dre and 50 Cent, and the first single, "Just Lose It," which hits radio September 27th. The video, due on MTV as early as October 5th, features Eminem running naked down a Los Angeles street and dressing as pop icons like Pee-wee Herman.
There are tentative plans to release the album with a limited-edition bonus disc, which may include songs that were leaked on the Internet last year.
The music industry has high hopes for Encore. Some retailers say it's a good bet that the CD will be one of the few to sell more than a million first-week units in the post-file-sharing era. "I think it's possible," says Kevin Cassidy, executive VP of retail operations at Tower Records. "Prior to 8 Mile, Eminem was a premier rapper. Now he's a premier artist."