Miraculously, no one dies in Eminem’s “Kamikaze” attempt
Danny Liggio | Friday, September 7, 2018
Eminem first caught my attention as I entered my teenage years. I first heard the “Marshall Mather LP” as I discovered the excitement of smoking shoplifted cigars at sleepovers and the absolute despair that accompanied my first rejection by a girl. Needless to say, I was in constant turmoil, and Eminem seemed to complement that. Slim describes the appeal of his music better than I could in “The Way I Am”: “And since birth I’ve been cursed with curse to just curse / And just blurt this berserk and bizarre s—t that works.”
With last year’s album “Revival,” Eminem strayed from this formula. Rather than rapping nonsense with incredible skill, Em focused on a message, which he then tried to fit into lyrics and verses. What he ended up with was an unstomachable album with its heart in the right place.
“Kamikaze” forsakes any attempt to preach to the world, rather, Eminem uses “Kamikaze” to lash out against all of hip-hop — except for the few rappers to which he gives his blessing on “The Ringer.” The rhymes, the message, the anger and competence are all classic Eminem throughout the album.
When it comes to rapping ability, just about no one can beat Eminem. He proves it again and again on “Kamikaze.” With ease, Slim commandeers and turns modern flows, like those from “Gucci Gang” and “Bad and Boujee.” Rather than trying to rap “well” with these flows like so many do, Eminem spits “Burger King, Gucci Gang, dookie dang.” He’s on the verge of overdoing the silliness factor, but I like it.
Outside of insults, the next most present topic Eminem speaks on is the failure of “Revival.” In line with his established character, Eminem owns what he deems to be his shortcomings, however, the point is overdone. Unlike classic Slim self-loathing, the criticism of “Revival” is unrelatable. I can understand when he points out his crazy mind but complaining about an album that released at No. 1 on the Billboard charts is a bit out of my grasp.
As a prodigy of Dr. Dre, Eminem is no stranger to hard-hitting beats, the kind that fill up a song without detracting from the rapping. On “Kamikaze,” Em enlists A-list hit-makers to build modern beats which have this classic strength. Mike WiLL Made-It features, interpolating a sample from “Humble.” Tay Keith also produces “Not Alike” in his instantly recognizable bass thumping style. Along with input from Eminem on the beats for nearly every song, the instrumentals on “Kamikaze” leave very little to be desired.
“Kamikaze” refers to the fact that Eminem feels he could be destroying his career while taking down all those who he disses along with him. In reality, Eminem has not been the rapper he was for years. I like to consider his 2013 appearance during halftime of the Notre Dame–Michigan game as the end of his serious career as a rapper. He stood there, mouth agape, swaying from side to side. After this utterly goofy display has seemed removed from the modern world. This inability to stick with the times was the basis for “Revival” flopping.
As far as listening to a middle-aged man complain goes, “Kamikaze” is a pleasant time. But even the smartest rant only has so much to offer. “Kamikaze,” while a solid album, doesn’t contain the spark which earned Slim Shady his seat among the greats.
Label: Goliath Management, Interscope Records, Aftermath Entertainment, and Shady Records
Favorite Track: “The Ringer”
If You Like: Dr. Dre, Royce Da 5’9”