Eminem- Kamikaze Album Review
(By: Thomas Rodriguez)
Eminem complains for 13 songs, and only a few stand out as good.
PSA: if you’re a rapper that’s trying to make it in the game, you’d best master the art of the diss track, to save your skin or burn someone else’s. Everyone loves a good diss track. There’s something cathartic about hearing an artist lyrically wail on another person over a beat, either through funny wordplay or downright ruthless fact dropping (“Story of Adidon” is still one of the nastiest tracks to drop this decade).
When it comes to the art of the diss, Detroit legend Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem is easily one of its masters. The man has brutally dissed so many people throughout his long career, both in albums and mixtapes, that he’s one of the first people you think about not dissing first; with his legendary flow and wordplay, he’s a lyrical Terminator that could potentially end any MC’s future success.
At least, that’s what we’d say in 2002.
Eminem has a handful of classics under his belt, namely his first three albums, but his best days are definitely behind him. His last album, 2017’s Revival, was a tired, horribly produced/written/rapped album that inspired a collective middle finger to Marshall Mathers from the entire music community. Everyone was shocked at just how terrible it was; it was the musical Phantom Menace of 2017. A little over 8 months later, Kamikaze drops out of the blue; Eminem has gone on full diss mode against…virtually every person in the music world. How does it fare?
Well, it’s better than Revival. I could actually get through it without throwing up in my mouth a little…
On a surface level, Kamikaze seems to be a smart move by Eminem; Dr. Dre is executive producing (like we asked for), there are actual rap features (like we asked for), and Eminem mostly drops his weird, tired staccato flow that was so persistent on Revival (like we asked for!). Hell, the adoption of an angry, screw-everyone mentality on tracks like “The Ringer” brings back memories of Slim Shady dissing Limp Bizkit and the hateful media. It’s great at first, but once you look past the surface a lot of cracks start to show in Eminem’s logic. Eminem calling his fans “retarded” for not liking Revival isn’t exactly thrilling to hear from someone who expects good music from a legend, and the unnecessary slurs thrown at Tyler, the Creator on “Fall” is total weak sauce; the guy worships Em, and is currently making better music too! As a protagonist, Eminem can occasionally make for a compelling story, as tracks like “Lucky You” and “Not Alike” showcase some good production, blistering flows, and solid writing that makes Eminem’s frustrations compelling; sadly these moments are the diamonds in Kamikaze’s rough. Most of the time, Em seems less like an attacker, and more of an immature man child whining about people not liking his worst album ever. The corny bars here don’t help make for the case that Eminem has rap god status now.
As tired as an argument it is, Kamikaze is a perfect example of how great a rapper Em is, but how poorly of a songmaker he has become. Mostly every song here is a mixed bag that boils down to a basic 3 point structure:
1. Em’s flow is great
2. There’s some good lines, some awful ones
3. The hook is almost always botched
“Greatest” has a maniacal beat, with an equally zany flow from Em, but the hook sounds like someone doing a great Eminem parody; “Venom”, already being am obvious cash grab for the upcoming movie, has an awful chorus that’s as disgusting as the villain the song describes. The vocal and instrumental mixing on “Stepping Stone” sounds like a demo of a demo, and the one two ear-punch of “Nice Guy” and “Good Guy” features some of the worst singing on the album, and just feels hollow. It’s a damn shame to see an old legend like Em make the same mistakes over and over again, with so little change in what’s actually going on in his music.
I will reiterate, Kamikaze is better than Revival. It’s not much harder to be better than utter dog crap, true, but Em’s delivery and flows here are at least pleasant on a surface level. Look deeper though, and you’ll realize Eminem’s kamikaze plane is missing all of his targets on this album, only hurting himself in the long run.
Tracks to Save: “Lucky You”, “Not Alike”, some parts of “The Ringer” and “Greatest”…
Tracks to Skip: “Normal”, “Stepping Stone”, pretty much the last four songs…
Listen to Kamikaze here!
What did you think about this album? Any comments or criticism? Comment down below and let me know; I’d love to hear what you think!
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