Article by Andrés Alvarado
So, Eminem is back, that is great news. Kamikaze marks the return of the Rap God after the release of the underwhelming Revival in late 2017. For his tenth go round, Eminem has boomeranged back to his early ’00s angry chap shenanigans — and that would be a heck of a story if Mr. Mathers were not a 45 year old established legend and his targets not been a bunch of young poor flow cats of the mumble-rap sphere.
Alas, Kamikaze is best described as a mixed bag of goodies and throwaways. As far as technique goes, few can spit at the level of Eminem; but that is not what is up for debate. Subject matter, however, is iffy at best. Kamikaze sails as a crusade against the Lils of today’s game (Xan, Pump, and Yatchy), Machine Gun Kelly, retired Joe Budden, Drake, music industry media, and President Donald Trump. Additionally, Eminem takes the opportunity to address the demise of his old crew, D12, in a somewhat sincere – but in a too little, too late – nature.
As for the individual tracks, Kamikaze begins on a mountainous high note. “The Ringer” is Eminem at his finest in quite a while. Jabbing anger-riddled spits time and time again against those annoying modern day artists mentioned above, Em holds nothing back. A diatribe of epic proportions, Marshall fuels the industry with a good ol’ rap battle, or 20. Nonetheless, Eminem does take a chance to not dismiss new-school rappers as a whole — he does positively shout-out Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, J. Cole, and album contributor Joyner Lucas.
Among the better components of Kamikaze we find the narcissistic coolness and stupefying bars of “Greatest,” the Joyner Lucas collaborated trap banger with a lyrical twist of golden era of rap “Lucky You,” the MGK obliteration (to which MGK has adequately responded) behind “Not Alike,” Drake diss joint and namesake “Kamikaze,” and the mid-tempo melodies splashed of bare-chested pounding challenges to Tyler, the Creator, Charlamagne Tha God and Joe Budden on “Fall.”
Then, we have the bad and ugly. Singles like “Normal,” “Stepping Stone,” “Venom,” “Nice Guy,” and “Good Guy” are all composed of inferior lyricism and depth — compared to the best of Kamikaze. Yet, that is not the biggest issue with the new record. The bigger pitfall is Eminem’s choice of victims. Truth be told, an icon of Shady’s stature has no place in the ring with pretenders like Xan, MGK, or Pump; cause honestly, what is the point? None of them have the skills to fully engage Eminem in a fair battle. Hip-hop is better served with a titan vs. titan affair, not a pit bull bullying chihuahuas. If anything, Eminem was right to amp up the genre with a battle, but why not go after a worthy opponent? After all, the world vividly remembers the Tupac and Biggie war or the Jay Z and Nas slugfest — no one cares about Eminem vs. Triumph The Insult Comic Dog. Seems Eminem did not learn that lesson.
Overall, Kamikaze is a decent album bordering on good. One thing is certain, Eminem has not lost a step on flow or punch. His rhymes are ridiculous and otherworldly, while his demeanor screams of confidence. Kamikaze is not Eminem’s best album, but it is step up from the 3 Rs (Relapse, Recovery, and Revival) and that’s a huge win for fans and rap alike. Cheers!
Album Score: 6.5/10 – Key Tracks: “The Ringer,” “Greatest,” “Lucky You,” “Not Alike,” “Fall,” and “Kamikaze.”