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He’s Not Done: Eminem’s “Kamikaze”

Bojan Zeric

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Almost three weeks after rapper Eminem released his surprise thirteen-track album Kamikaze, the tenth of his career, the time has come to review it. Following the harsh reactions critics (and fans) gave his last album “Revival”, Slim Shady responded the way the world needed him too. Although Revival’s more conscious version of Marshall Mathers was appreciated by some, most agreed that the best Eminem is the raw one, the one that doesn’t hold anything back and isn’t afraid of directly attacking anyone: the one we see in Kamikaze.

From the very first seconds of the opening track The Ringer, with the plane crash followed by the almost prophetic words “I feel like I want to punch the world in the f***ing face right now”, it is clear that nobody is safe. Five minutes of pure rap follow, with flow switches, metaphors, and punchlines- tools Eminem uses to present the overall message of the album. “Even at forty-five, I am still the greatest, and I am here to prove that to all of you critics who believe I am not, and to all of you presumed rappers who think you are better than me”.

In this first track alone, he manages to attack his critics in one fell swoop, saying the only fame they will ever get will come from critiquing him. Some disses that particularly stood out were radio presenter Charlemagne, who according to Eminem, is going to hate on him no matter what Em says, Lil Pump and Lil Xan, calling them bad copies of Lil Wayne, and of course Donald Trump, whom he titled a self-important “evil serpent”.

In Greatest, he claims that he is the “best to ever do it” while comparing himself to Muhammad Alì. In Lucky You, he partners with rapper Joyner Lucas and together they reflect on the current state of hip-hop from two different perspectives. These perspectives being the young lyricist with nothing to lose who has taken it upon himself to protect the genre from “mumble rappers”, and the old legend who has brought the genre to new heights, and is now disappointed by the direction that is being taken.

In Not Alike (ft. Royce 5’9), he attacks Machine Gun Kelly, who, according to him is not as great as he thinks he is.

Finally, after acknowledging Revival as not his best work, Eminem concludes the bragging and dissing with Fall, perhaps the track with the most name-drops. He attacks several prominent figures of the rap industry including Drake, Tyler the Creator, Lord Jamar, and Joe Budden while celebrating others like Hopsin, Logic, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Joyner Lucas, Royce 5’9 and Big Sean.

These main six tracks are presented with Venom, a soundtrack to an upcoming Marvel movie, two short skits, a more reflective track Stepping Stone in which he apologizes to his former rap group D12 for letting them down. The final three tracks (Normal, Good Guy and Nice Guy) all talk about the same topic: his love life and seem to have only been included to reach the 13 track mark.

Overall, the album is coherent- it does what it is meant to do. It is well-produced and well-structured, with lyrics that never fail to impress. Welcome back, Slim.

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He’s Not Done: Eminem’s “Kamikaze”