‘Kamikaze:’ the album to help forget ‘Revival’
Why Eminem is still the don of rap
Eminem is far from the pinnacle rapper of the modern era.
For the last ten years, Eminem has acted as though he’s chasing something greater and more tangible than continued success. It’s as if the rapper has been in a constant battle with his own ego, vying for a position as the premier rapper on the constantly growing scene. With each successive album came more watered down irrelevance that found Eminem sounding lost and angry for the simple sake of anger –– and not because he had anything important to say.
Listening to albums like “Relapse” and “Recovery” was truly painful as a lifelong fan of Eminem. It couldn’t be clearer that Eminem had lost his way and had made it unclear if he would ever find a relevant voice against heavyweights like Kendrick Lamar. Eminem still seems angry at the changing music scene that, at the behest of Hollywood, is waking up to his backdoor racism, antisemitism and sexism that has run latent on so many of his prior releases.
Like a spoiled child, Eminem took to his usual bursts of lyrical prowess backed by been-there-done-that beats that sounded as boring as the prospect of a “Marshall Mathers LP 2” in 2013.
But it’s difficult to diminish his record as one of the seminal rap acts in the history of the genre. With 220 million worldwide album and single sales, Eminem has earned a seat at the table among the biggest and most talented acts in rap. With that type of legacy comes an immense amount of power and influence in the music industry and gives one the ability to make noise whenever thought fit.
Putting out a number one album with zero promotion is just the type of power Eminem wields, and he wants everyone to know it.
With “Kamikaze,” Eminem has resurrected a voice of anguish and all out rage that finally translates into an album that is some of the rapper’s best work in years. Eminem is beyond angry on “Kamikaze.” He focuses his rage towards those who’ve questioned his legacy as a rapper. While 2017’s “Revival” is among some of the weakest work in Eminem’s catalogue, “Kamikaze” displays Eminem’s voice that many thought was lost.
On the track “Greatest,” Eminem displays exceptional speed and diction that lays out an argument while simultaneously ending one. Eminem proves his chops are there and backs up any questions of his ability with a fiery zeal that permeates through each successive bar.
It’s a misguided and ill-informed route to remind Eminem and his fans that he “isn’t saying anything relevant” or is just flat out an “a-----e.” These affirmations are destined to be met with deaf ears that have been through the ringer spanning his 20 year career. Love him or hate him, Eminem garners respect amongst his peers whether it’s given, taken or earned.
Eminem boasts an ability to cut deep to the point of ruining careers. Just ask Ja Rule or The Game.
Eminem makes no qualms about who his anger is aimed at on “Kamikaze.” More intriguing than the sudden release of the album itself is the radiating lack of care the rapper shows for any and all other artists who he takes aim at.
Eminem doesn't want to start a war of words. His immense confidence in his ability to take a radio-dominating form of rap and rework it towards his own benefit wins the war before it begins.
Naming “Kamikaze” an album that turns Eminem’s career around falls short in several areas. For its shiny appeal and bright spots of elegance are others that feel bloated and misguided.
But “Kamikaze” burns bright in the spots that matter for Eminem. Eminem has plenty of tools at his disposal to refine and rework his sound to build off of what works and what doesn’t on “Kamikaze.”
Getting Lil Pump to concede to his own diss at the hands of Eminem on album opener “The Ringer” is as much feedback as Eminem will need.
Brian Evans is the senior arts editor and can be reached at email@example.com and Twitter: @BrianEvansSpec