Eminem season comes to a close today as we've already reviewed his 2020 Release 'Music To Be Murdered By' (click here to read) - and we finish with 'Kamikaze', his 2018 surprise drop which came after the negative reception to his 2017 album 'Revival'. He was angry - but did he use that anger to produce a great album.
The production on here is an improvement to 'Revival' - he has a go on trap beats on this instead, such as on 'Greatest' which has this zany synth line and heavy guitar riffs as Em responds to critics and claims he still has it and is the GOAT. Em's multi-syllable and internal rhymes partnered with slick wordplay and menacing lines make for an enjoyable listen, "But like a wedding band // You gotta be diamond to even climb in the ring" (this is a hard braggadocios bar). The technical skill of the track is incredible as are the fast flows and rhymes of the highest order - the annoying hook grew on me too and it's a really good track. There's some really banging beats, such as on the finale 'Venom' which is really dramatic and sounds fire as this song was for the Marvel film Venom as he uses the track to compare himself to the villain describing how he got control of his fan base and was evil for them, making them do all kinds of things like when Venom takes over Eddie Brock. Em provides great wordplay, punchlines and multiple double entendres between himself and Venom as this track is fire with solid verses and a fire hook (which many don't like) - it's a great way to finish this album. Some beats aren't as good as others but even so aren't bad, such as 'Normal' which has this pretty uninteresting first beat before it switches to an entertaining, cartoonish piano beat as he talks on another dysfunctional relationship but talks on his desire for just a normal relationship with mostly uninteresting lyrics and some nice wordplay which is a bit corny but clever too, "But like a cyclone, I just got my disguise blown", "You've got 'em all under cover just like moles // Hopin' they'll come back with intel // But I'm the one who's thrown into the spiral". The first half is just incredibly boring and the hook don't do much either - it picks up in the second half but overall it isn't really interesting from Em as he has much better love songs. I'm glad to see this kind of change in production style.
Lyrically Em is a lot cleaner here, with less corny lines and more raw lyricism, as on 'Fall' as he goes the hardest he will all album at the critics and the new generation of rap lyrically with some great disses, "And far as Lord Jamar, you better leave me the hell alone // Or I'll show you an Elvis clone // Walk up in this house you own, thrust my pelvic bone // Use your telephone and go fetch me the remote // Put my feet up and just make myself at home (Yeah) // I belong here, clown! Don't tell me 'bout the culture! // I inspired the Hopsins, the Logics, the Coles, the // Seans, the K-Dots, the 5'9"s, and oh // Brought the world 50 Cent, you did squat, piss and moan // But I'm not gonna fall… bitch (Yeah)". The very misty, dark trap beat sounds great as Justin Vernon's unaccredited hook sounds amazing and this whole track feels like the old Em and I love it - the aggression in his delivery and focus on the track makes this a very enjoyable listen. His wordplay is very sharp and witty throughout this, such as 'Kamikaze', as the title track focuses on attacking the new generation of rap again and it's mainly around ghostwriting, poor lyrics etc. over this very zany, crazy trap beat which switches to this eerie but impeccable beat as the 2nd half is a shout for best instrumental of the album. The fun hook and tone despite the more serious commentary from Em as well as a great flow and charisma make this track just purely entertaining. Lyrically it's an improvement, he sounds more slick with his lyricism and leaves you waiting for what he says next. His flow is really good, with some nice fast flows - which can be annoying or forced at times but genuinely is very good. His delivery sounds angry and hungry on here - like he had a point to prove (which he did).
The features on here are more of what we wanted compared to 'Revival' - with rap features who all provide great verses, such as Joyner Lucas on 'Lucky You' as he provides a great flow and speeds to make up for lacking something lyrically as the track focuses on how Em wants more respect for his legacy and goes at the new generation while Joyner wants more recognition from award shows for his work over this banging trap beat with twinkling bells. Both go off as Em steals the show with his mic presence and impeccable flow and this is fast rap done at the highest standard - both absolutely spaz and it's a standout track on 'Kamikaze'. Royce da 5'9" on 'Not Alike' drops mean punchlines and clever bits of wordplay, "Everybody doin' chick joints // Probably rob these little dudes at fist point // 'Member everybody used to bite Nickel // Now everybody doin' Bitcoin", with a non stop flow which just hits hard as it's a great feature. Em's wordplay, punchlines and incredible rhyme schemes come into play here as he raps his ass off this verse, "Only time you'll ever say I lost // You'll be talkin' 'bout Fetty Wap, better call Diddy". Tay Keith drops a beat similar to 'Look Alive' by Blocboy JB and Drake until we get a beat switch to a banging, dramatic trap beat as both attack the new generation of rap and Em disses Machine Gun Kelly (which really elevated their beef to full blown diss tracks) as both go off with flow switches and hungry deliveries to keep everyone entertained. Jessie Reyez was the more poppy/R&B feature on here and has one good feature - but the other not so much - that being 'Nice Guy', and as Jesse has some clever and funny lines in her verses, "I'm bipolar with the switch-up just as quick like you cummin'", her vocals are just stressful on the ears and are a bit too psychotic and strained. It's another track which focuses on a toxic relationship between a girl and boy involving cheating, insults etc. over this heavy trap beat which is actually fire and the best part of the track. Em verses are packed with some corny but funny one liners and wordplay, but other than this nothing is interesting from the track and it's an easy skip - it doesn't sound good and the content is boring.
The main theme of this album is firing back at those who critiqued 'Revival' and the new generation of rap, shown by the fiery introduction 'The Ringer' as he goes at literally everyone and provides some solid wordplay and punchlines throughout and goes hard (although I don't agree with all he's saying) over this decent trap beat which is nothing special. The flow switches keep this long verse interesting and despite me not agreeing with all he's said he goes hard with such a fire and venom that wasn't heard on 'Revival' - it's a great way to open things up. The only other theme really tackled here is love and lack of stability within relationships, such as 'Good Guy' which is also featuring Jessie Reyez, a sequel to 'Nice Guy', as she provides amazing vocals on this track and what attracted me to her music in the first place as the track focuses on Em causing damage to this girl because she did him wrong and he justifies that as an acceptable reason - but it leads to him asking whether or not he's actually the good guy. There's some nice wordplay, vivid descriptions and a singular but impactful verse from Em over this heavy bass, vocal samples and more glossy vibe which I love. This is one of Em's most underrated songs, it's the polar opposite to the last one and is so much better, catchier and easily replayable - a hot take but it's one of the best on this album. Now, while I don't agree with everything he's saying, I do appreciate this content because it’s just classic Eminem – the only one who’d have the balls to go at the industry like he did, and it makes for some enjoyable content and leaves you wondering what he’s going to say next. 'Stepping Stone' has great content as Em gives us an apology song to D12 for how things went post-Proof's death and how he more or less treated them as a stepping stone with emotional, honest lines with clever wordplay in there as well, "You can already sense the climate is startin' to shift // To these kids you no longer exist // Went from rainin' cats and dogs in this bitch // To tiny drops, little drips // And by the time your reign is over, you'll hardly be missed". The old school beat with this metallic, cold feel reflects the mood of the track and while the hook is meh there's vibes from 'The Eminem Show' and all of it's so raw and honest and his delivery nostalgic - a great track.
To conclude, this is an improvement on 'Revival' - a great, mean album as he sounds as hungry as ever. The only issue is despite not being long there's some filler tracks - but heavily outweighed by some great tracks. The Paul skits are iconic and give this album a feel of nostalgia, as Em's rapping is great and this is full of bangers and more emotional cuts. The hooks are the only slight issue is some of the hooks are so and so but nevertheless it's a great album.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: The Ringer, Greatest, Lucky You, Stepping Stone, Not Alike, Kamikaze, Fall, Good Guy, Venom
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Normal
OVERALL RATING: Light 8/10