30 to 40 year old white, centre-right, heterosexual men are having the time of their lives today as their favourite rapper, Eminem has just released a surprise album titled Kamikaze. Twitter is awash with talk about how Eminem is the G.O.A.T., how he’s attacking mumble rappers and how he’s dissing all his “haters“. Basically his fans are impressed with this, his tenth studio LP, but that’s not exactly an accurate litmus test, after all, his Stans are impressed with everything he makes.
Beginning with the sound of something crashing (possibly his career) Kamikaze starts off okay I guess, although he commences with the corny, frat-boy-sounding line “I feel like I wanna punch the world in the fucking face right now!”. From that point onward, Kamikaze is like a reply to critics of his last album Revival (which by the way, was utter shite) it also feels like some kind of musical catharsis as he airs his frustrations about no longer being “on top of his game”.
So okay, if Kamikaze was non-stop, back to his roots, Chino XL-style “diss everybody who’s mainstream and wack” I’d have to concede and say that Marshall Mathers has finally made a decent album but unfortunately he hasn’t. This LP may take aim at a number of people but it all feels very safe and mild in today’s world. Eminem’s Kamikaze is kinda like Sacha Baron Cohen‘s Who Is America?; a middle-aged man trying to recapture the vibe of the late 1990’s but ultimately lacking something because in the 20-odd years that have passed, society and culture has moved on, and what may have been entertaining in the past is no longer as virulent. Trying to bring back the past without tweaking your delivery and content just doesn’t cut it, and like Who Is America?, Kamikaze fails to pack a punch.
As an example, this album’s title and Licenced To Ill-esque artwork alone would have made people angry had this LP been released in 2001-2005 but in 2018 showing someone crashing a plane into their enemies is blasé. This is not Sonic Jihad (Paris’ post-9/11 LP) this evoking of a suicide pilot is just in the right period so not to offend the sensibilities of the mainstream. There’s also the use of the word “faggot” which is obscured or disguised, and again that’s wussing out, especially considering the amount of times Eminem uttered homophobic lyrics back in the day. Basically, this album wishes it was a nuke but it turns out to be a fire cracker (only this cracker is no longer fire).
Although I never liked his music, there was a slight sense of hostility when Eminem used to call out celebrities’ names. Today, the only place there’s venom is in the last song, only not in the way you’d want. By the way, if this is the lead song for the upcoming Venom movie, it may also turn out to be an out-of-style creation unwelcome in the present day.
Speaking of weak venom, there’s talk on social media of Em calling out crap rappers in this album; he mentions Lil Yachty by name, alludes to Lil Pump, and he disses Trap flows in general. But if you listen to the lyrics more than once, you realise how mild they actually are…
“I can see why people like Lil Yachty, but not me though. Not even dissin’, it just ain’t for me. All I am simply is just an emcee, maybe “Stan” just isn’t your cup of tea, maybe your cup’s full of syrup and lean. Maybe I need to stir up shit, preferably shake the world up if it were up to me”
…not only does that contain some of the most obvious rhymes (with no internals as his fans keep puffing about) but that verse isn’t “shaking or stirring anything up” in fact it’s very tame indeed. The irony that Lil Yachty’s Teenage Emotions met with as much criticism as Revival, maybe Marshall needs to make pals with his fellow “why are they hating on me?” rapper instead of lambasting him.
Kamikaze also takes aim at critics of his previous LP Revival. Eminem at one point raps…
“I’m sorry, wait, what’s your talent? Oh, critiquing. My talent? Oh, bitch I don’t know who the fuck y’all are, to give a sub-par bar”
…so that’s Eminem’s talent? To not know the names of critics? Makes perfect sense. Speaking of critics, when they were collectively riding his dick back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s he didn’t seem to care too much about their role in the music industry but now that the tables have turned, suddenly critics are his number one enemy. This makes him look shallow, foolish and even hypocritical. Here’s a novel concept; maybe stop making shite albums like Revival, that way you won’t get shit reviews.
The fact that he can’t seem to comprehend criticism against Revival, it proves that not only is he deluded but that he’s also petty. Like I said, if you don’t want “hate” then don’t make hate-attracting garbage, and if you don’t want further hate, then don’t comment on the previous hate with yet more garbage (something that is briefly mentioned in one of the skits). The strange thing about this situation is that Eminem thinks the public and the media being critical of him is somehow unthinkable, it’s kinda like the right-wing who bitch and moan about freedom of speech but in reality they advocate “free speech” only when it’s stuff they agree with. It’s like it never occurred to Eminem that if you make crap, people will say it’s crap, according to him that’s “hate” but is it really? Are you sure it’s not just a by-product of making back-to-back mediocrity after attaining an undeserved amount of fame?
I’ll acknowledge that criticising in of itself is fine, even criticising critics. I’m not averse to dissing Trap flows either but you have to do it with style and with an angle, you can’t just make a song like “Not Alike” but do nothing more creative than the genre you’re berating. It seems that Eminem needs to listen to Tetraheathen by Trapazoyd which made this comment earlier and better. “Fall” also contains a mock-Trap bit but it also features a horrible hook circa 2003 making it sound worse than the genre it’s critiquing.
Speaking of horrible hooks, “Greatest” sports some decent flow but also one of the most corny choruses on this LP. The title track contains a crap hook too, “Fall” also has a trashy autotuned R’N’B chorus, and “Stepping Stone” contains an atrocious hook as well. In addition, there’s two horrible tracks with the helium-voiced Jessie Reyez. Basically, there’s a lot wrong with this album and no, it’s not as good as his fans are saying it is. One of the most overrated MCs of all time is being overrated once again.
“Lucky You” contains double time delivery as well as featuring a verse from Joyner “I’m Not Racist” Lucas “. This is yet another track with Eminem hating Mumble Rap but with the added fast-rap delivery, the end result sounds like two middle-aged blokes trying to out-do each other with an outdated style.
The entire album is heaving with speedy raps, in fact Eminem seems overly concerned with showcasing his fast flow. Fans of Twista, Tech T9ne, and the rest will probably love this stuff but despite a certain level of skill involved with this technique, double and triple time raps sound tired in the present day. Back when everybody from R.A. The Rugged Man, Tonedeff, Jaz-O to Krayzie Bone was doing this style and doing it well (in the 1990’s and early-to-mid 2000’s) Eminem was making regular-paced Hip-Hop but strangely once the style became worn-out he began making more and more of it. Apparently if you can rap fast, that automatically makes you a “rap god” which seem to be his fans’ logic.
Dissing the likes of Lord Jamar, Joe Budden, Drake, and Tyler The Creator but not in a way that would ignite a beef, this LP seems to be targeting rappers that are past rapping and battling, or contemporary lames who would never say anything in retaliation. In the same way he conveniently chose weaker artists to slate in his heyday, Eminem is doing it once again. Yawn.
Eminem’s career seems to be veering into therapy, therapy for coming to terms with not being as highly respected as he was in the late 1990’s. By featuring on fellow has-been’s albums (Nicki …ahem… Minaj) Em seems to be living in a bubble, reminiscing about 2002 like a neocon convention (listen to his song “Stepping Stone” for proof). And someone needs to tell him that moaning about contemporary rap whilst delivering that message in a style that is now old-fashioned, is ironic as fuck. All this bullshit actually makes me wanna listen to Lil Pump. Nah… he’s shite too.
So yes, this album is better than Revival but that’s not exactly an accolade to be proud of. Saying Kamikaze is preferable over Revival is like saying flu is better than bird flu; you’d rather not have either. And with today’s advancements, none of this shit is as sick as it used to be.