Hello, I’m MusiCommentator, and happy Labor Day! At least, I plan on posting this on Labor Day. I wouldn’t say this is the best holiday (I still have to work on this day), but this whole weekend was a great one because Eminem released a new album!
Now, Eminem is a rapper I have a long history with. I said in my last post reviewing Fall Out Boy’s “Lake Effect Kid” EP that I attribute Fall Out Boy as being the band that got me into music as a whole. Well, Eminem is the artist that got me into rap, which is my favorite music genre. So, when I heard about this album, I became very excited.
Eminem is a Detroit MC that has been in the game for over two decades now. His fame has been turbulent, but he is one of the most popular and well respected rappers of all time. However, he hit a major road bump recently: his 2017 album “Revival”. While I thought the album was good, it was panned by critics and fans alike. I would give it a 7 or a 7.5, which is good for most artists, but for Eminem, it ranks as one of his worst albums for me, and keep in mind, I still like the album. So, almost everyone has been clowning Eminem for the past eight months, and he really has shied from the spotlight. It was to everyone’s surprise then when this album came out. Em has always been an artist to release singles before an album’s rollout, and his lead singles usually become certified classics (“My Name Is”, “Without Me”, and “Lose Yourself” to name a few). It’s shocking to see that this album has no singles attached to it and that it came without any warning. So, staying as unbiased as I possibly can be, it’s time to review Eminem’s 10th studio album “Kamikaze”.
#1: The Ringer
Eminem starts this album no bars held by delivering a 5-minute verse on this onslaught of a track. To revive himself from “Revival” (ironic, I know), Em knew he needed to come in with straight bars, and he accomplishes this in this track, basically using it as a venting session for all that has been going on with him for the past year. He addresses mumble rappers (“I heard your mumblin’, but it’s jumbled in mumbo-jumbo/The era that I’m from will pummel you, that’s what it’s comin’ to”), the reception of his last album (“I don’t know who the f*ck y’all are/To give a sub-par bar, even have an opinion of you”), and his BET cypher on Trump from last year (“‘Cause I feel like the beast of burden/That line in the sand, was it even worth it?”). For what this album is, this is definitely a great way to start it!
Eminem continues most of the themes on the first track as he transitions into the second one, even though this one has more outlandish similes and metaphors. Eminem really takes his flow up a notch here, as he consistently raps incredibly fast throughout this whole track. Lines like “You say we’re cut from the same cloth/But I guess you fabricate, eh?” and “So you sold 10 million albums, eh? (what?)/Only problem is, you put out 10 million albums, eh? (haha)” stand out as good punchlines while the catchy chorus boldly proclaims he is the greatest MC out there (with a nice Playboi Carti reference in the mix). This is definitely another banger of this album.
#3: Lucky You (ft. Joyner Lucas)
Anyone who listens to both of these artists has always wanted a collaboration between them, and here we are. Both artists on here do what you would expect; Joyner gives a bragging verse similar to those he gave on “Stranger Things” and “I Don’t Die” with Chris Brown. Eminem goes on the same paths he did with the previous two songs, and while there are not as many quotables, he keeps a great, lightning-fast flow throughout. Aside from the fact it’s a collaboration, I would say this track is less memorable than the previous two, but it is still another awesome banger!
#4: Paul (Skit)
Eminem references his old albums with a skit featuring his manager, and while it doesn’t have humor like the older ones do, it addresses my suspicions that the only topics covered on this album will be the fallout of “Revival” and Em’s hatred for mumble rap.
Right after the skit about this album’s supposed one-dimensionality comes a song addressing a different topic: Eminem’s broken relationships. While I have always loved Em’s relationship songs, this one feels repetitive. It’s been twenty years, how many times can you rap about the same relationship and not solve your problems already? “Bad Husband” on “Revival” felt like a fitting close to these types of songs for Eminem, but this track feels like a rehash of all his other “broken love” songs. His singing flow is also terrible, so this track is kind of a clunker.
#6: Em Calls Paul (Skit)
Continuing from the “Paul” skit, Eminem answers Paul’s suspicions in a pretty self-conscious way, so I guess that puts a little humor in this album.
#7: Stepping Stone
Remember D12? It was that rap group Eminem was in a long time ago. Their last song was in 2014, and they last album was in 2004. This track acts as the answer to the question Eminem fans have been asking forever: “Where did D12 go?” Eminem details the struggles of their friendships and displays his regrets over a beautiful beat and sample. While this song doesn’t really fit the theme of the album, it’s a welcome addition.
#8: Not Alike (ft. Royce da 5’9″)
Eminem and Royce have a way of improving their styles when they hop on a track together, and this song is a prime example of that. I never thought I would see these two rap over BlocBoy JB’s “Look Alive” beat, but both of them do an amazing job over it. Royce does some great lyrical flexing over the rap game, putting in smooth flows with lyrics like “‘Member everybody used to bite Nickel/Now everybody doin’ Bitcoin” and “The sky is blue, the tie is new/The Maserati white and cool like G-Eazy”. Eminem uses his part to attack rappers worse than him, specifically MGK. While I think MGK’s music is decent, Eminem comes on this track to slaughter him, and it’s hard to stick up for him after that. This has to be one of the best bangers on this album!
On the title track of this album, Eminem makes a track similar to “Revival”‘s “Offended” to show how he will “crash into everything”. He also references his worst-received song “Fack” in a fitting way. While this song surely isn’t meant to be taken seriously, it does have some of the album’s best punchlines, such as “While I teabag the microphone ’cause I go nuts on it”, “But somethin’ here is afoot—oh yeah, it’s my d*ck”, and “I go cray on it like a color book”, so this isn’t a track you should skip.
This is the last song on this album that directly addresses the main theme of this project, so Eminem gives out the rest of his shots. He delivers great punchlines (“Word to Dr. Dre/In that first marijuana tape—guess I got a chronic case (yeah)”, “You probabaly can compare me to your car ’cause I’m just barely gettin’ started”) while striking out at more rappers (“These rappers are like Hunger Games/One minute, they’re mockin’ Jay/Next minute, they get their style from Migos, ’til they copy Drake”). All this is done over a great guitar beat and a nice Bon Iver chorus, making it a fantastic song.
Before I move on to the next song, though, I would like to address the controversy surrounding this track, specifically around the lines:
“Tyler create nothin’, I see why you called yourself a [f*ggot], b*tch
It’s not just ’cause you lack attention
It’s because you worship D12’s balls, you’re sack-religious
If you’re gonna critique me, you better at least be as good or better”
Much criticism has surrounded this set of bars when Bon Iver spoke out against them. A little context: Tyler, The Creator–who has bluntly hinted at his bisexuality in the past–insulted Eminem’s single “Walk On Water” last year when it was released, so Eminem obviously became mad about it. While I do think these lines went a bit too far, it’s not like this is something new from Em. This is what he does. His career has always thrived off of controversial lyrics and the outcry that sparks from them. When people say they like the “Old Eminem”, they’re referring to the time period where he made songs with lines like this (including the word “f*ggot”) in them, so, while I’m not a homophobe, I don’t understand why we should criticize this line now when songs with lines like these, some even worse, are seen as hip-hop classics? Anyways, on to the next track.
#11: Nice Guy (ft. Jessie Reyez)
The first of two tracks featuring singer Jessie Reyez, this song goes back to the “bad relationship” topic. While I do not like Jessie’s singing in the chorus, her performance in the post-chorus and verses are pretty entertaining. The bass-heavy beat works well with the lyrical content, and Em comes in with a couple of good quotables. This song is probably the best “bad relationship” track on the album.
#12: Good Guy (ft. Jessie Reyez)
Much like “Normal”, this track feels like a repeat of all of Eminem’s “broken love” tracks before this. Jessie’s singing, though, is better than the last track, and the sample works well over the beat, so this doesn’t end up being the worst song on this album.
This is the single for the upcoming movie “Venom”, and it’s kind of underwhelming. The beat and general atmosphere works for a soundtrack song, but the lyrics are all over the place. The only ones I liked were the ones in the chorus and the last bars in the third verse “I’m the super villain Dad and Mom was losin’ their marbles to/You marvel that? Eddie Brock is you/And I’m the suit”. In the end, this is a decent song, but definitely doesn’t work as the last track for this whole album.
Just like the release of this album, the quality of this project is quite surprising. Firstly, the beats are leaps and bounds above those in “Revival”. The trap songs on there (like “Believe” and “Chloraseptic”) were too minimalist and generally weak, but with producers like Ronny J and Mike Will Made It, almost every beat on this album is banging. Eminem also does an amazing job, as all his flows are phenomenal, and he comes with great punchlines all throughout. This is what everyone wanted “Revival” to be. Honestly, I’d say this is like the return of the old Eminem. He gets good beats and raps over them about whatever is on his mind, dissing as many people as he can in the process, with great flows and lyrics. If that doesn’t sound like the old Eminem to me, I don’t know who the old Eminem is.
My favorite track on this album has to be “Not Alike”. It’s interesting to see Eminem and Royce rap over a beat like that, and both rappers do an amazing job on it, so I have to love it. My least favorite track is “Normal” because, like I said when I talked about that song, it just feels like a stale topic for Em, and the beat doesn’t do anything for me either.
Overall, I would give this album a 9.5 out of 10. Do you agree?
Thank you for reading my “Kamikaze” album review. If you liked this review, make sure to follow my website, Twitter, and Instagram, like this post, and be sure to check in to read my future reviews. Also, if you have something you want to see me review, tell me in the comments. Until then, keep on listening to good music! I know I will.