Eminem has dropped a surprise album titled “Kamikaze” this week. First and foremost, let us start by saying Eminem is a Rap God. His impact for Hip-Hop in general is unmatched. He has impacted millions of lives all around the world. He has painted a picture of Hip-Hop that will be difficult to achieve for emcees for generations. A plethora of awards, the first emcee to win an Oscar. He truly has seen it all, done it all. There’s a reason there are three generations of “Stan’s” around the world to this day. He is and forever will be on a lot of people’s top 5.
His previous release “Revival” was not well received by most of his fanbase and fans of Hip-Hop listeners across the world. And that’s understandable, the album had its moments here and there, but overall it paled in comparison to his previous work. But the real Slim Shady is brought back to life in Em’s latest album – Kamikaze. There is a depth to this album that reveals its essence.
It isn’t news to say that Eminem has hated “mumble rap” for a long time now. He has seen, experienced, and even in some form created different eras of Hip-Hop. To him, the new wave of “mumble rappers” is something that is taking away from the art of emceeing and the essence of Hip-Hop itself. He has taken to the mic to drop bomb after bomb in each song in Kamikaze to sustain that level of art of lyricism.
His album Revival caught a lot of flak for its lack of substance and musicality. In Kamikaze, the critics have said that there exists the same problem. Almost 70% of the album talks about braggadocio, and takes shots at a lot of todays emcees and styles. But the truth of the matter is that Eminem has tried to show the world that he still believes in the era of rap where lyrics mattered.
The album isn’t a hollow shell to begin with, the audience has become used to dumbed down, melodic, mumbled version of Hip-Hop that of late, passes for great rap songs. To a lot of people, the album is just re-wording the same topics for a few songs, but it takes technique, vision and substance to put out a completely fresh sounding album and re-ignite the much needed fire that is needed in this day and age in Hip-Hop.
In one of the songs, Eminem recites “You wanted Shady, you got him”. This sentence highlights the point of the whole album. At this point in time, Eminem has reached a pinnacle that few have achieved or even come close to. And that inadvertently has become his greatest weapon, and also his biggest downfall. As they say, you either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain. Eminem has turned to embrace his anti-hero side in his stance of Hip-Hop. He has embraced the fact that no matter what he does or does not do, the fans will still want more.
Song By Song Bar Fest
As he himself gets to mention in the first track named “The Ringer” – “lose lose for me, win win for you” and that applies to whichever emcee’s names he either calls out or vice versa. On “Greatest” he tells the fans that he embraces his position as “the greatest”. This is no self titled achievement for Em, as he has been the people’s champion for decades.
“Lucky You” sees Joyner Lucas shine alongside Eminem in a dark but satirical track. Both their verses are aimed at most of the sound scrapes in the industry. Eminem and Joyner both bring flows, Metaphors, Punchlines and raw bars on this one. Usually Em is known to be ruthless in collaborations, but on this one, Joyner held his own.
And taking it back to throwback season are the back and forth Paul & Em’s conversational skits that sit in between the album. The song “Normal” is your usual Shady back and forth experience with his girl. The usual craziness ensues in this track as can be expected. Stepping Stone sees Eminem repenting and reminiscing about his times with his earlier rap crew D12. He details the rise and fall of the group. The decisions and events that go behind it too. He also shares his insight into these experiences. This one is for the core fans.
As for the next track which sees Royce Da 5’9 snap on a verse, “Not Alike” is a track made on a beat that is resemblant of BlocBoy JB’s “Look Alive”. This is one song that has been the target of a lot of controversy. Em slices through the gates and responds to MGK and takes big shots at him line after line. This was in response to the MGK verse that dissed Eminem on Tech Nines song “No Reason”. Eminem puts MGK in his place with this verse. And the response to that (Rap Devil) is something that keeps this beef riding heavy.
The title track “Kamikaze” and the track right after (“Fall”) are two distinct sounds that define his skill level and take shots at those that need to be doing more. The song “Fall” is a prime example of Shady “stirring up” the industry in his own way. The last couple tracks are somewhat a package in one. Nice Guy & Good Guy are two tracks in which the songwriting has gone through surprisingly well.
On top of that, Canadian singer Jessie Reyez does an impeccable job in supporting Em on the vocals to make these two tracks stand out. The album ends with the song “Venom” for the upcoming feature film of the same name produced by Sony. Eminem dons the Anti-hero role just as Venom does and embraces the darkness. The album is a heavy hitter and an essential listen in today’s time.