The Lowdown: Eminem is angry on tenth studio album Kamikaze. There’s a variety of different reasons why the rapper could be upset. Last December’s Revival flopped. And, quite honestly, almost everything the Detroit MC has released since his 2010 album, Recovery, hasn’t been that enjoyable. On Kamikaze, Eminem resurrects the style and flow that once lured in all of the die-hard fans that classify him as one of the greatest of all time. Throughout the record’s 13 tracks, the legendary rapper tells everyone how he’s the greatest and verbally attacks anyone he doesn’t like or who’s had negative things to say about him or, in some cases, his daughter Hailie.
The Good: On aggressive opening track “The Ringer”, Em starts off by declaring himself as the perfectionist that makes no mistakes. Then, he immediately goes into his headline-grabbing, derogatory comments towards pretty much everyone in the music industry. And the truth is he works better in attack mode. It was refreshing to hear Em ignite his rap beef with Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly on “Not Alike”. Eminem also bounces back with more of his political stances. On the title track, Em refers to Donald Trump as “this evil serpent” and later calls him “Agent Orange”. There’s even a reference to Mike Pence’s meme status as the God of Thunder. To this point, it’s pretty clear how much Eminem isn’t comfortable with the modern-day world, which includes President Trump and today’s rap industry.
The Kamikaze album cover replicates the Beastie Boys’ 1986 LP, Licensed to Ill, only with the fighter plane’s tail initialed “FU-2.” It’s kind of a cool tribute.
The Bad: Does Eminem lose some credit for his popular BET cypher, where he expressed his loathing for Trump? He almost seems regretful on “The Ringer”. “If I could go back, I’d at least reword it/ And say I empathize with the people this evil serpent/ Sold the dream to that he’s deserted.” It’s obviously a very light retraction of what he said in the cypher, but Em never takes anything he says back. Ever. If he said it, he meant it. Also, without “The Ringer”, this album is pretty much like everything he’s put out over the past decade. Especially, if you compare it to other rap albums that have been released so far this year.
The Verdict: If you didn’t actually listen to the album, you might think it was all just filled with anger and disses towards people. There are two back-to-back soulful tracks, “Nice Guy” and “Good Guy”, that feature Canadian Jessie Reyez. They’re both essentially about the ups and downs of masculinity and seemingly time-travel back to 2002 and Em’s sound on The Eminem Show. As a whole, the album may not be impeccable, but it’s the best he’s released since 2010. In what seems like a war of generations, all Em is asking for is the respect he’s earned in the rap industry. This record’s good enough to grant him that.
Essential Tracks: “The Ringer”, “Not Alike”, and “Fall”.
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