Man. I talked a lot of shit in my last Em review. Even though my stance on that album remains negative, I am happy today. Slim Shady is back! And what a glorious return it is. Following polarizing reviews for Revival, Eminem took an L. Artists are sensitive people, for good reason. They are able to tap into emotions many people cannot. Transparent emotion is key to giving compelling performances. Yet on his previous record Em’s passion felt slightly misguided. I’m sure he would grill me for saying that. However, I don’t care. Nothing will convince me that Revival is fire. Nevertheless, it’s in the past. After multiple listens of Kamikaze, I am forced to eat my words. And, honestly, I couldn’t be happier. This record is a lethal combination assault to any and all critics. Despite a lack of concrete songwriting, Kamikaze warrants praise.
The album begins with a splash of hot coffee to the face. “The Ringer” ignites the aggressive, scorned tone of Marshall Mathers’ tenth LP. In the months succeeding the release of Revival, Eminem received endless flak from media members and fans alike. Here he lets us know he heard everything. And he’s out for blood. Everyone is liable to get it. Lil Pump, Lil Xan and Lil Yachty; MGK, Joe Budden and Tyler, the Creator; none of them are safe. Although some disses are friendlier than others, Em delivers equal passion behind all of them. Rather than “take the high road” like his comrade Royce da 5’9″, who appears here, suggested, he decides to open the floodgates. I can’t really blame him. A critic like myself will never understand what it’s like to be tormented with hateful comments 24/7.
When you put your heart into a project, you also make yourself vulnerable. The topics heard across Revival were personal. He attempted to take a stand against crooked politicians, abusive relationships and systemic racism. That, in theory, I applaud. However, the execution of those topics were lackluster at best. Due to this, his messages were lost in the crowd of clunky instrumentals and subpar singing. Conversely, on Kamikaze, Eminem’s rap style has rediscovered its sonic niche. His vocal acrobats are as potent as they’ve been in a decade. And the songs ain’t half bad either. Additionally, voicemail exchanges between Em and his manager Paul Rosenberg make a comeback. He has channeled Slim Shady once more to remind the doubters who the fuck he is. A hip-hop icon with plenty of gas left in the tank.
As a whole, this album entertains from start to finish. Though if you’ve never been an Eminem fan this won’t alter your mindset. It acts as a modern reflection of better times in his illustrious career. Some critics will find a handful of these bars distasteful, as do I on occasion (the Tyler line isn’t uncharacteristic per se but isn’t fully necessary either). But I know and enjoy Eminem along with his tendencies. His mile-a-minute lyricism is second to none. He never lost his touch in terms of technique. Yet his cringe-pop approach grew stale and redundant on his previous record. This time around his focus is much sharper and effective. With his aim at hater-ass rappers and an unfaithful ex-girlfriend, Em’s deliveries hit their mark more often than not. I am proud to say that Kamikaze is a top-5 (probably number five) Eminem album for me.