Atop the year Eminem released his eighth studio album Revival. Despite topping the Billboard Top 200, the album met mixed reviews from fans and critics earning the title of Eminem’s “worst album”. Reasons for the critique vary from the project’s underwhelming sound to it’s overall concept. Either way, the project left fans and critics questioning where the self-proclaimed ‘Rap God’ stands within the thriving hip-hop culture. Long behold, on August 31st Slim Shady returned in all his glory on the surprise project Kamikaze. Eminem’s tenth studio album finds him drawing the line in response to critics who doubted his previous attempt amid the current state of hip-hop. How does Eminem’s Kamikaze follow Revival? What’s Kamikaze’s significance to the culture? Let’s check it out!
Eminem’s Kamikaze opens with an attitude fueled, diss-driven introduction titled “Ringer”. Following the energy of his last release “Chloraseptic (Remix)” featuring 2 Chainz & Phresher,” Em revisits the themes of the current state of hip-hop calling out the likes of Lil Xan and Lil Pump, his relationship with critics and his controversial 2017 BET Hip-Hop cypher/Donald Trump diss. The track sets the tone for Eminem’s clap back of a project. Before picking up the pace with Joyner Lucas on the hit single “Lucky You,” Em explores his legacy and it’s impact on hip-hop with “Greatest”. “Lucky You,” one of the album’s standouts, finds the Detroit rapper collaborating with Joyner Lucas to showcase a lyrical track that meets the energy of today’s hip-hop. This track is important because it bridges the gap between rap newcomers like Lucas and legends like Eminem while comparing and contrasting their standing in the rap game – a brilliant piece for it’s dueling theme, outstanding lyricism and overall sound provided by the likes of super producer Boi-1da. After listening to a voice mail from Peter Rosenberg criticizing Kamikaze’s concept on “Paul (Skit)” and toxic-fueled love song with “Normal,” Eminem responds to Rosenberg reaffirming his mixed feelings towards critics on “Em Calls Paul (Skit)”. “No, I don’t plan to reply to everybody who f-ckin’ says something f-cked up about me,” he responds. After apologizing to those he negatively impacted (ie. D12) on “Stepping Stone,” Shady continues to diss “mumble rappers” over a “Look Alive” reminiscent production on another album standout titled “Not Alike” featuring Royce Da 5’9. On the title track, Eminem focuses on the aftermath of Revival and his disappointment with both the project and it’s response. The following track, the controversial “Fall,” finds Eminem exploring the album’s central theme with criticisms of the current state of hip-hop and his critics calling out the likes of Tyler The Creator, Joe Budden, Akademics and Charlemagne while crediting the likes of Kendrick Lamar, J Cole and Big Sean among a list of others. After collaborating with Jessie Reyez on a couple of love-strucked tracks that feel like album fill-in’s, Eminem delivers the high-energy lead single “Venom” – Music From The Motion Soundtrack.
So what does a project spewing so much venom with lyrics rooted in anger and heavy weighted name drops have on the culture? Firstly, it challenges expectations among the current state of hip-hop – its sound, the themes explored and of course the practice itself. Like Eminem, myself and many other hip-hop heads have become frustrated with the current sounds of hip-hop and the desaturation it has placed on the culture. In my opinion, a project like this was much needed, and long overdue. Secondly, the project successfully takes Eminem out of the hole he put himself in with Revival. Despite having no promotion, Kamikaze topped the Billboard Top 200 becoming the best-selling hip-hop album of 2018. While the numbers prove successful, the aftermath illustrates this album’s impact. Following the shots taken on “Not Alike,” Machine Gun Kelly, fired back at Slim Shady with “Rap Devil”. Even though the diss was well received for MGK’s stature, Eminem’s response “Kill Shot”, a little underwhelming, still proved that Eminem is one of the greatest rappers alive. Overall, Kamikaze achieved everything that Eminem sought out for and successfully drew a line within hip-hop! You’re either on the right side or the wrong one! Which one? Sound off in the comment box below!
Eminem – Kamikaze
Eminem – ‘Venom” Live