The six members of Detroit-based D12 (it's short for Dirty Dozen; the discrepancy between the actual number of rappers in the group and its double-size moniker has something to do with the fact that each person's alias is also counted) made a pact years ago that if any of them ever made it big, he would come back for the others. Eminem just might be kicking himself right about now. As the one who sold 10 million records the past couple of years and the only one with any real talent, he's the runaway star of D12's debut, Devil's Night. And not so coincidentally, the album perks up only when Slim Shady himself is on the mike. It even blatantly plays on his past repertoire at times, devising nothing new in the process. "Ain't Nuttin' but Music," produced by Dr. Dre, is a rewrite of "The Real Slim Shady," and Eminem's familiar staccato rings through each song. But only "Purple Pills" and "Fight Music" meet his usual high standard.

Let's face it: Devil's Night was released only because of Eminem's status. The themes are torn from his playbook, mainly "shocking" tales of revenge and deplorable violence. Yet most of it plays like an R-rated cartoon. Plus, the rapping, except for Eminem's, just isn't convincing in its malice. A couple of the D12 crew (particularly the stumbling and rhythmically challenged Bizarre) don't deserve to rap alongside Eminem. Still, Eminem gets the last word on "Girls," a tagged-on solo bonus cut that continues his battle with Everlast (which started on last year's D12 single "Shit on You"). This time, it spills over to include Fred Durst, and for five ancillary minutes, the venom sounds genuine.


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