Yesterday, Vulture geeked out over a reference track for “Topless,” a song from the semi-never-ending Detox sessions that featured Eminem rapping out lyrics he had ghostwritten for Dr. Dre. Now here comes another bit of Detox-related marginalia that may well top “Topless”: “Syllables,” a posse cut featuring weed carriers Stat Quo and Ca$his alongside Eminem, Jay-Z, and 50 Cent. Considering their years of on-and-off bad blood, it’s always a good time when Jay and 50 are on a track together. (We haven’t seen that since the “I Get Money” remix, right? Equally of note: Jay and Eminem together for the first time since “Renegade.”) But the best thing “Syllables” has going for it is that it almost definitely was recorded an indeterminate number of years back and is just surfacing now, like a time capsule here to remind us of the days when every word Jay-Z spoke over a beat sounded bold and commanding. And this is definitely pre-Recovery, and most likely pre-Relapse, Eminem, too: scrappy, intentionally funny, and confident enough he can hold his own without “Forever”-style over-rapping (also a giveaway that Em’s verse is dated: There are TRL references in it). 50’s goofy mumble flow (“I’m international / I get my dick licked round the globe“) sounds about the same, though, which is cool with us.
At this juncture we should point out that our enthusiasm here isn’t predicated necessarily on the quality of the tunes: Both this and “Topless” are half-finished, and even with that taken into consideration, the paucity of new ideas exhibited means Detox may well be not much more than a moderately fulfilling retread. But tracking the process for the mythical album has been satisfying enough on its own.