Eminem's ''Kamikaze'' is packed with triggered venom that unleashes explosives not just on his critics but also on his 'god' legacy.
Eminem's ''Kamikaze'' is a reminder of who Slim Shady is and not the 45 year old elder statesman of rap that people want him to be. The word, 'Kamikaze', refers to a Japanese aircraft loaded with explosives and making a deliberate suicidal crash on an enemy target, and that is what the veteran rapper seeks to achieve on this 13 track long project.
A lot has happened since the release of the surprise album early Friday, August 31, that you will be forgiven for thinking this review is four years late, rather than just four days after it dropped.
There have been at least a ton of reviews (which I have largely avoided reading), a diss song by Machine Gun Kelly (with a video) and across the internet, Kamikaze has already been the subject of several scathing dissections, with lines sharply divided along two extremes of Eminem/Old Hip-Hop heads, who believe this is the best project since the last decade, and the others who feel the album, in the words of co-Pulse scribe, Motolani, is ''Thrash.''
In truth, this is one of the hardest review I have had to write, but write I must.
So for the purpose of the review, I decided to talk to do something different and get thoughts from two individuals representing from both sides of the divide, starting with a longtime stan of Em, who goes by the Twitter handle, @Juzt_Courage and he attempts to put the project in perspective;
''To thoroughly enjoy Kamikaze, you have to know a little backstory,'' he says.
All Eminem's career, he's been faced with harsh critics, (from Gay right people to government, to press, to parents, etc) and he has responded back everytime with a middle finger and more fire lyrics laced with controversial words to spark even harsher criticisms. He's built like that.
His previously released album Revival perhaps received the harshest criticisms so far in Eminem's career (including one popular fiery criticism from a close associate Joe Budden where he called Revival "trash" on his podcast (?), unfair as it was in my opinion, I'm grateful to all the critics and those sparked the album on our hands today, Kamikaze.
Immediately I saw the album front cover, I knew hell yeah, this is about to be fire. The front Cover had three words, FU-2 (fuck you too), TIKCU5 (Suck It, in reverse) and Kamikaze.
One thing to keep in mind when listening to this is that Eminem is trying to prove all the critics wrong, that he can actually rap.
'' For Motolani, ''I think the album is trash, not because the music is poor, but by Eminem's standards.
However, I think 'trash' sometimes equates how the music resonates with the average listener without bias for or against the music. Like a friend put it nicely this morning, Eminem has not grown. I think that's an euphemism for Eminem has run out of ideas and is literally bleeding his last ounces of creativity while crying for help.
He's just a Nicki Minaj-esque social media madness away from being mocked.
You're a 20-year veteran, why are you dissing critics? It shows you have a fragile ego and you are mentally fragile or even with a fragile ego that should have healed with success over the past 20 years.
It however seems Shady is stuck in the victim-complex of his trailer pack, white trash abused by his mother phase.
But we should have known something - the man mostly blamed everyone else but himself while embroiled in the melee of drug abuse and mental health. Why are you dissing trappers while you jump on their beats and use their style on the same album?
Can I now have your attention with my review?
So I came to the conclusion that the best way to give my own independent and unbiased take on the project is through a one time listen and assessment of each song, and that is what you are about to step into below.
He is talking, that anger is back, looking for someone to punch, ''I’m sorry, wait, what's your talent? Oh, critiquin', My talent? Oh, bitch, I don't know who the fuck y’all are, to give a sub-par bar, even have an opinion of you, you mention me, millions of views, attention in news.''
Is this me getting carried away or am I somehow caught up in this sub? I like this joint, it is everything Em is known for.
He sounds really bitter as he takes shots in multiple directions with mumble rap (pers) being his biggest target. Solid record all day and a good start.
Produced by Mike Will, the beat got me nodding immediately it comes on, there is an urbane feel to it, as Eminem needlessly reminds everyone he is the greatest in the world. The verse gets better and better.
Featuring Joyner Lucas and here is where it fails to make some sense, how do you go dissing mumble rappers who do Trap to rapping on a Trap beat just to also fit into the new sound?
Outside that, Joyner Lucas, however, does damage to the record talking about not getting appreciation, with Eminem admitting he took a L when he dropped ''Revival'', then he switches his flow as he goes off on a number of topics. Another mad joint.
Now at this point, Eminem's manager, Paul Rosenberg surfaces with the now expected skit as he delivers a few words on Em replying his critics.
I actually feel this provided him with the perfect end to that angry chapter, and the next set of tracks should detour from what the earlier three represented and see him move to new subjects, but boy I wasn't ready.
Starts out soft, then it begins to build, Eminem is singing, I am enjoying this, he is talking about realtionships, really enjoying this, then at the tail end, it begins to drift, the song would have been so better without that final verse.
Em Calls Paul (Skit)
Just after taking a break on one track, the angry Em is back and now he is threatening, can't stand critics who dont' know the difference in rhyme schemes, like that school bully who lost a fight in public and is struggling to at least have the last words.
He is telling a story, this is the Eminem I like and the one that I was able to understand on past projects, he is talking about his group D12, late member Proof, who passed away in 2006, how his death affected the group.
This is an open letter, where he really lets his emotions get the better of him, as he admits that D12 is over, easily my best track on the album.
With former Slaughterhouse member, Royce da 5'9'' on this trappy song, Eminem totally owns this one as he goes off (yet again) on new rappers, dissing MGK for calling the name of his daughter Hailie and reminding him of the fate that befell the last rapper who toed that path in Ja Rule.
Album titled track coincidentally sounds more like an after thought and passes as a filler.
After coming for mumble rappers, he reserves a spot for critics and everyone who had something to say about his last album calling out Charmalagne, Joe Budden, Akademiks with not too subtle threats.
Featuring Jessie Reyez, this serves as an easy contender for the most irritating and unrelatable song you will listen to this year.
Good Guy Ft. Jessie Reyez
At least this is better than their last collaboration.
Soundtrack to the upcoming Marvel's Anti-hero movie staring Tom Hardy gives the album a strong ending.
Kamikaze is not a bad or even weak album, far from it, this is a body of work worth revisiting.
I think there are as much as seven to eight notable gems to make this a really enjoyable project, also fully of the opinion that while critics have the right to do what they do, artists have the right also to respond in ways they deem fit and for Eminem, it is through his songs.
But I am a huge fan of Jay Z and there are moments on this project that reminds me why. While Hov went after the Grammys on the song 'Apeshit' with just one bar, Eminem goes after the institution with a handful of lines.
With Em, he doesn't seem to know how to move on, taking on his real or imagined opponents should not have made it beyond the first three songs of the album.
What Kamikaze represents, is not an opportunity for Eminem to prove that he can rap, far from it, nine albums lay confirmation to that, but rather a moment to deliver a modern day classic telling new stories, offering insight into his growth over the years and elevate his artistry.
But instead he focused on the minor, got consumed in his anger and forgot to cater to those who really mattered, the audeince, which in 2018 is unfortunately not good enough. Kamikaze doesn't lower the standard of the 'rap god', but it also fails to project his maturity.
3-Worth Checking Out 3.5-Hot
4-Smoking Hot 4.5-Amazing