Breaking Down Eminem’s KAMIKAZE
I just listened to Eminem’s KAMIKAZE and I’m going through many feelings.
Only 8 months after the release of Revival, Eminem came back with a surprise album release; KAMIKAZE. The album flew down on us on August 31 and exploded sending shrapnels in all directions. The album is a major throwback to the angrier Slim Shady days where the rapper dissed everyone. Now, he does the same directing his anger towards rappers like Charlemagne, Lil Pump, Lil Xan, Tyler the Creator and a big chunk towards Machine Gun Kelly.
Some of the names received the diss in a celebratory way like MGK who popped a bottle for being mentioned and Lil Pump, who said that he deserved it. Others didn’t really welcome it with open arms.
Em also continued his attack on Donald Trump and his government mentioning Mike Pence on more than one occasion.
The album’s purpose is kind of summarized in the fourth “track” titled “Paul” which is a skit; Paul Rosenberg calling Eminem after listening to the album and telling him he can’t drop an album dissing the people who didn’t like his previous album as it might send him into a dangerous loop. Eminem responds to that on the sixth track “Em Calls Paul,” also a skit.
The album’s artwork is a reference to the Beastie Boys’ 1986 album Licensed to Ill. Eminem has mentioned on more than one occasion their influence on him and his work.
Going through the album, I made some notes as to how it can be summarized;
- “The Ringer” attacks journalists who label Em as old news trying to stay relevant as well as other rappers who diss him.
- “Greatest” is basically Eminem spitting down verse after verse as to why he’s the greatest… you’ll find some of his reasons very compelling.
- “Lucky You” takes another jab at rappers who have ghostwriters and at the Grammys.
- “Paul” is the Paul Rosenberg call I mentioned earlier.
- “Normal” shifts the focus from dissing the music scene to dissing an ex who is “extra” and can’t be “normal.”
- “Em Calls Paul” is also a skit with Eminem calling Paul back replying to the accusation while driving and we can hear the GPS directions in the background.
- “Stepping Stone” takes down the angry tone and is about making amends and kind of asking for forgiveness from the D12 members Eminem couldn’t be there for, all the while explaining that he couldn’t. “Stepping Stone” also makes a reference to the destructive effects the death of Proof had on the members of the band and on him; something we saw on Revival as well.
- On “Not Alike” Eminem goes back to dissing rappers and focuses for a few verse on Machine Gun Kelly.
- The title track of the album comes in as the ninth and on it Em explains how he’s dropping down on everyone like a Kamikaze
- On “Fall” Eminem goes full out. The track is filled with name dropping both in positive and negative ways, references to previous works, and another blow at the Grammys.
The eleventh and twelfth tracks “Nice Guy” and “Good Guy” have similar tones of dealing with a toxic love/hate relationship. Jessie Reyez is featured on both tracks of KAMIKAZE.
The thirteenth and last track, “Venom,” which was released first, is part of the soundtrack for movie of the same name. Eminem steps in Venom’s shoes and we can sense he has “adrenaline momentum” throughout the track. Venom is expected to be released this coming October.
Eminem’s rage in KAMIKAZE comes as a reaction to his relatively soft tones of the album’s predecessor Revival, which didn’t get as much attention as a usual Eminem album would. So far, KAMIKAZE is receiving mixed reviews between musical support and societal opposition due to what was referred to as hate speech in some verses. I personally loved the music and think Eminem is one of the best in the industry but 2018 is the year where the heart emoji was the most used on Facebook. So hate speech is a big no-no for many people.
Is the age of Eminem over? I don’t believe it to be. Will his stan base shrink even more? It might and it might not depending on what the fans are looking for. Some want the Revival Eminem and the butterflies while others want the older, rawer version of the artist who spoke his mind regardless of appropriateness.
One thing is certain is that there’s no pleasing everyone and Eminem seems to have come to terms with that. The artist confesses on the album to doing it the way he wants despite what feedback he may get.
Did you listen to KAMIKAZE yet? What are your thoughts?
This entry was suggested by Reine Shaito and written by Elige Abou Youness for Virgin Radio Lebanon and Laughing Might Help, September 3, 2018.
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