Eminem‘s tenth studio album has received far more scrutiny than anything he’s put out in the last ten years. Whilst his last few albums were largely and quickly disregarded, Kamikaze is already causing a stir. Of course, this is in part due to the rap rivalries and diss tracks that surround it.
Where this album fits into the story of Eminem’s career remains to be seen, but it seems to already have been accepted by much of the critical committee as a return to form for the rapper. Let’s dive deeper into the album.
“I’m just gonna write down my first thoughts and see where this takes me. Because I feel like I wanna punch the world in the fucking face right now.”
‘The Ringer’ is where Eminem states one of the most publicised objectives of this album, to decimate his enemies in the rap world.
He takes aim at his enemies two ways; by criticising the lyrical flow of the ‘mumble rap‘ style, which has become a popular staple of the past decade, and by naming his rivals one by one in the second half of the song. The “choppy flow” that he employs to make fun of contemporary rappers ironically works well at getting his point across – it’s important for him that we can hear the lyrics loud and clear, because this is where he’s stating his case. is an anger that carries through to the rest of the album.
This will remind many of 2013’s ‘Rap God’, and it seems like the song has much the same purpose. The verses are tight, with Eminem showing off the speed he can reach for the first time on the album. The chorus is weak – it’s one of Eminem’s comedy moments, where he doubles down on the juvenile aspect of his lyrical content, but it doesn’t save the chorus from seeing tedious and lackluster.
Lucky You (feat. Joyner Lucas)
Joyner Lucas joins Eminem here and takes the first verse on Lucky You. The message is that up and coming rappers need more room to grow in the mainstream. Lucas complains he’ll probably never get a Grammy, and Eminem later remarks he had to sell out to get his. In the same verse, he remarks that he said a lot of things in my day, I admit it this is payback in a way”.
The chorus is catchy as hell, but definitely echoes the mumble rap nature of choruses seen on Migos tracks, which raises the question of whether Eminem secretly acknowledges the value of the ‘new sound’, despite seemingly attempting to scupper its growth.
It seems every Eminem album must have at least one relationship/love song. The verses are strong enough on Normal, but the content seems like an odd diversion after what are largely diss tracks and social commentary. Whilst it’s unclear which particular female friend of Em’s is the focus here, the track fits snugly into the overall theme of relationships portrayed across past albums; volatile, toxic, near-destructive, and each seems to leave the rapper with plenty of material for tracks like these.
Like what you’re reading? Leave us your email address and get the latest music news and reviews delivered straight to your inbox.
Since his death in 2006, Eminem has mentioned the death of fellow D12 member and friend Proof on several tracks, most notably on ‘You’re Never Over’, and ‘Stepping Stone’ kicks off with that part of the D12 story, before moving on to a wider verdict on the group’s future, with Eminem stating “when Proof died, so did the group”.
Here Eminem is relatively modest, and apologetic, and this is the song most lacking in anger, especially in the chorus “wash away my sins, rinse away this dirt, I forgot to make amends to all the friends I may have hurt.” Later he states It’s not goodbye to our friendship but D12 is over” nobody from the group has really commented publicly on the track. The beat harks back to the early 2000s, which works nicely to make for a nostalgia that doesn’t seem forced.
Eminem and Royce da 5’9″‘s message is clear. The mumble rap style of Migos is not theirs, but they can take the style and make a hit by using it as easily as anyone. Royce’s verse demands a few rewinds, it’s perfect on the beat and builds up nicely towards the mid point of the song. Possibly the strongest song on this album, due to the perfect flow of both rappers.
At the start of Kamikaze, Eminem seems to show his own opinion of this album, opening with “How do I say this? Last year didn’t work out so well for me, 2018? Well…” from there he spits hard-hitting verses, and it’s clear that this track is playing a safe game; nothing’s weird, nothing’s experimental, this is another quick career retrospective using solid verses that should please most fans.
Another track filled with solid verses. It stills has the bitter response to critics – “I can take all of you – on at once, you wanted Shady, you got it” – and the rapper uses the second verse to directly address recent friend-turned-rival Joe Budden – “somebody tell Budden before I snap he better fasten it”. The chorus is soft, not comical, and is just filler before the fast, snappy lyrical verses – this is no bad thing; the choruses on this album are often unwanted, whereas this one comes and goes quickly.
Nice Guy (with Jessie Reyez)
The tone of this distorted track is set by the gripping vocals of Jessie Reyez. Eminem has said in a recent interview that he bets on Reyez becoming huge, and listening to tracks like this it’s hard to argue against that. Eminem’s verses are different from the rest of the album, and far less -hard-hitting, it seems as though he’s handing the spotlight over to Reyez.
Good Guy (with Jessie Reyez)
“Since you bought the jury they’ll call me guilty”
This is a kind of b-side to Nice Guy; the beat picks up the pace here a bit, and the song becomes instantly more recognisable as a more conventional style. The chorus is a winner, thanks again to Reyez’ vocals, and Em’s verses are strong enough, even though there’s a weird extra vocal of his layered on top throughout most of the track. All in all, this is a good collaboration that breaks up the album nicely.
Venom is hard hitting, and a strong song. It shouldn’t be on the end of the album, as it offers no resolution to anything, but is strong nonetheless. Here Eminem sounds like he is working within the beat, rather than writing on top of it, which gives this track lots of momentum – it will help it work well on the soundtrack of the movie by the same name.