Eminem released a surprise album, “Kamikaze,” on all streaming services on Friday. This comes eight months after the rapper released his last album, “Revival,” which was met with polarizing responses as critics and fans alike felt divided over the album’s political message.
However, Eminem isn’t rapping about politics as much on his 10th studio album release. Instead, he’s focused on getting back to the old Slim Shady and going at almost everyone who has criticized him over the past few years.
He opens the album with “The Ringer,” a song in which he goes at critics for their reviews of “Revival” and disses rappers like Lil Xan and Lil Pump. He also mentions Lil Yachty, saying he sees why people listen to the “One Night” rapper, “…but not me though.”
In the intro, Eminem also gives props to Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, all of whom have mentioned Eminem as one of their musical influences. It is a decent opener and gives us the context to what most of the album will sound like and be about.
In the next track, “Greatest,” he talks about his status and influence over a Mike WiLL Made-It beat. Despite the big name producer on the track, the beat isn’t very elaborate. Despite this, Eminem shows off his ability to flow, use metaphors and imagery making “Greatest” one of the better songs on the project.
“Lucky You” features the first guest appearance on the album, with Joyner Lucas opening the track. Eminem then comes back into the track mentioning his many accolades, saying, “I sound like a broken record every time I break a record. Nobody could ever take away the legacy.” He also takes some subliminal shots at rappers who use ghostwriters. The back-and-forth and contradictions of both rappers’ levels of success leads to “Lucky You” being one of the better tracks.
We then get a skit featuring Paul Rosenberg, Eminem’s manager, much like the older Eminem projects with Paul leaving Eminem a voicemail to question his actions. This is then followed up by “Normal,” one of three songs on this album about Eminem’s love life. After a skit during which Eminem answers Paul’s message, Eminem delivers “Stepping Stone,” a track seemingly dedicated to the rap group Eminem started his career with, D12. He opens by reminiscing about his and the group’s popularity in the early 2000s that later came crashing down after the death of friend and D12 member, Proof, as well as the failure of D12 solo albums. At the end of the track, he claims that D12 is officially over.
On “Not Alike,” he reunites with Bad Meets Evil collaborator Royce Da 5’9” and the two flow over a Tay Keith-produced track. While Eminem and Tay Keith are an unusual pairing, the track is one of the highlights, and both Eminem and Royce’s verses were some of the best on the whole project. This song also features a Machine Gun Kelly diss that has escalated into MGK responding with “Rap Devil” on Monday, a direct response to Eminem’s 2013 hit “Rap God.”
The title track, “Kamikaze” and the following track “Fall” have arguably been the most talked-about tracks in the news and on social media. With “Kamikaze” being more of a proclamation that this isn’t “Revival” but a return to the old Eminem, “Fall” is where he goes full Slim Shady, taking shots at Joe Budden, Charlamagne Tha God, and many more.
Of the list of disses on “Fall,” the two that caught the most people’s attention are the disses toward both Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt, who have referred to Eminem as an influence in the past, but have since criticized his albums. The diss toward Tyler, The Creator is even more controversial because he uses a homophobic slur, which comes after many speculated that Tyler came out on his most recent album “Flower Boy.” This is the song that has gotten Eminem the most flack from critics and fans alike and rightfully as it feels like the Tyler diss was made solely for shock value.
The album closes with “Nice Guy” and “Good Guy,” both about Eminem’s love life, and “Venom,” a song for the upcoming Marvel Studio movie of the same name. With “Normal,” “Nice Guy” and “Good Guy,” these are the worst tracks on the album as they contextually don’t match the album’s main narrative, plus the Jessie Reyez features don’t add any quality to either “Nice Guy” or “Good Guy.” While “Venom” isn’t necessarily a good track and has nothing to do with the album’s main topics, it gets somewhat of a pass as it was made for the purposes of being recorded for a movie soundtrack of the same name.
This album contains a lot of disses directed at those who have criticized the rapper in the past, but it doesn’t feel the same as it does when listening to older Eminem albums. His attempt at trying to bring back the magic of ‘02 Eminem feels like someone trying desperately to be relevant. The production on this album is rather generic despite having producers like Ronny J, Mike WiLL Made-It, Tay Keith and Boi-1da, and despite the “controversial” bars, most of the verses throughout the entire album aren’t anything special.
If “Kamikaze” is the last album of his career, he sure did not go out with a bang. And when stacked up with his entire discography, this, as well as his more recent work, doesn’t come close to his classics and could affect his legacy.