Eminem shocks the world with surprise album, Kamikaze, garnering mixed reactions

“Kamikaze isn’t Eminem’s greatest work, far from it actually, but it definitely isn’t his worst. Dropping his tenth album as a surprise release, without any lead singles, or any hype what-so-ever, works in the 45-year-old’s favor by not applying the pressure to live up to; in his words: don’t overthink it.”

Let’s be honest, a majority of us were under the impression that Eminem’s career was just about over after the absolute flop that was 2017’s Revival. The record was released with plenty of negative reviews, and they were very much deserved. That album was a flaming heap of missed opportunity from an artist that is widely considered to be one of the greatest rappers in history.

Let’s be even more honest with each other, Eminem hasn’t been very relevant as a musician, nor has his latter four releases lived up to the hype that surrounded his first five studio albums. As a fan of Marshall Mathers, I have enjoyed pieces of his recent releases, but I have had an overwhelming feeling that something was missing from his work.

Turns out what Mathers’ records were missing was the spark that his chip-on-the-shoulder attitude fueled on records like The Slim Shady LP or The Marshall Mathers LP. Long story short, Eminem had nothing to prove in the 2010’s. He had done the dirty work that created the tremendous aura formed around his name in the 2000’s.

Somewhere along the way, Mathers lost what motivated him the most. Becoming the greatest of all time while stirring the cultural pot had been achieved. Yes, there are some bangers on Em’s last three records, but do I seek them out when I listen to Eminem? Absolutely not.

Almost to a fault, Eminem has notoriously been the biggest critic of his own work. The lack of success for a much-anticipated The Marshall Mathers LP 2 spurred on Revival in an attempt to make up for the dissatisfaction, which in turn backfired and spurred on an even worse release from the Detroit-native.

Fast forward one year, it’s now 2018, it’s been 22 years since the rapper’s debut album Infinite was released. Em’s daughter Hailie, the subject of so many classic tracks, is a college student at Michigan State University. He’s been sober for almost ten years; and he drops an album, Kamikaze, in the middle of the night, which immediately started to trend on Twitter.

The first track on Kamikaze, “The Ringer” gets down to the point of this whole ordeal. Em is sick of the state of the rap scene. “The Ringer” is a song that we’ve heard before, just repackaged and presented differently. Calling out popular rappers like Lil Pump, Lil Yachty, Tyler the Creator, Drake, and Machine Gun Kelly amongst others, Mathers does what he does best; creates controversy.

Although, there’s always the risk of consequences when you call people out in the way that Eminem typically does. He reached into the bag that helped him achieve notoriety in the pre-social media world, and we found out very quickly that some things just don’t go down as smoothly as they used to. Case in point:

Let’s not even mention that…using controversial language is what…he’s known for…

Anyway, the rest of the album is an adventure that you won’t find on any other album in Eminem’s catalog. The flow of the overall record is quite clunky. Em takes the opportunity to mock, mimic, and further degrade the current state of hip-hop by often copying flows of other rappers in an intentionally ironic manner, as to make a statement. For example, his use of the now iconic Kendrick Lamar flow in “Greatest”.

There are tracks that clearly fall short on Kamikaze, those being the likes of “Normal,” “Nice Guy,” and “Good Guy”; which are all just over-the-top attempts at Mathers reminding us that he hates dating woman. It’s played out, and it doesn’t work.

But where there is bad, there is good. My favorite track off of Kamikaze is easily “Lucky You” which features Joyner Lucas, a Massachusetts-born rapper that almost steals the show on the third track of the record.

You don’t see it coming, but the bridge to this song is Eminem at his most vulnerable, and if you believe in conspiracies, it lights up the theory that Eminem’s downfall was brought on by his dismissal from the Illuminati, and…okay let’s not go down that rabbit hole. Just see for yourself:

He raps:

“I have said a lotta things in my day, I admit it
This is payback in a way, I regret it that I did it
I done won a couple Grammys but I sold my soul to get ’em
Wasn’t in it for the trophies, just the fuckin’ recognition
Fuck’s the difference?
I’m that cracker, bend the law, fuck the rules
Man I used to risk it all, now I got too much to lose
I been eatin’ long enough, man my stomach should be full”

“Lucky You” is a true-to-form Eminem song. It’s intense, it’s killer and it’s RAP, as it should be, just like five tracks later when Detroit’s own, and Eminem’s long-time collaborator Royce da 5’9″ makes his mark on the record, in a Bad Meets Evil reunion that is a definite highlight on the track list.

Kamikaze isn’t Eminem’s greatest work, far from it actually, but it definitely isn’t his worst. Dropping his tenth album as a surprise release, without any lead singles, or any hype what-so-ever, works in the 45-year-old’s favor by not applying the pressure to live up; in his words: don’t overthink it.

Robert J. Sherman

Founder of Resurget Magazine.