Slim Shady drops new album

Matthew Harvey, Multimedia Manager

The release of Eminem’s tenth studio album “Kamikaze,” signaled the start of what would turn out to be a chaotic September in hip-hop culture. Aside from the various feuds sparked by the Detroit rapper’s insulting lyrics on the August 31 surprise album, the past month saw tensions flare between rappers Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, as well as between G-Eazy and Machine Gun Kelly— the latter of whom was also a primary target of the wrath of Slim Shady. While “wrath” may sound like too strong a word to use when discussing the severity of song lyrics, it is undoubtedly the most appropriate way to refer to the verses of the acid-tongued Em.

When it comes to describing how that wrath manifests sonically throughout the album’s thirteen tracks, there seems to be no better descriptor than the album title itself. The term “Kamikaze” was brought into use by the Japanese during World War II to as a name for their war tactic of loading an aircraft with explosives and making a deliberate suicidal crash on an enemy target. The word also literally translates to “god wind,” which could be interpreted as a clever recall to Eminem’s self-proclaimed title of “Rap God.”

He begins the opening track lambasting music critics for their negative reviews of his previous 2017 album “Revival”, which was met with lukewarm critical reception. He raps, “But my beef is more media journalists/ (Hold up, hold up, hold up…)/ I said my beef is more meaty, a journalist/ Can get a mouthful of flesh.” On the same song, he goes on to take aim at “mumble rappers”— of which he names Lil Xan and Lil Pump specifically— suggesting that they imitate popular New Orleans rapper, Lil Wayne.

In addition to the rappers already mentioned, Eminem goes on to fire shots at Canadian rapper Drake, record producer Lord Jamar, more music critics, rappers Tyler, the Creator, Lil Yachty and Iggy Azalea, the President and Vice-President of the United States, his critics (again) and perhaps most intently, Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly. His feud with Kelly stems back to a 2012 tweet in which the then 22-year-old called his daughter— who was 16 at the time— “hot”. Following his multiple mentions of Kelly throughout “Kamikaze,” MGK responded with a diss track (“Rap Devil”), prompting Em to release a diss record of his own (“Killshot”).

Ultimately, it is impossible to discuss the musical merit of the album without addressing the conflict and controversy it has roused— this seems to be Em’s goal. While the album is executive produced by hip-hop icon Dr. Dre, the instrumentals are nothing to write home about. They do, however, set the appropriate backdrop to enhance the rapper’s red-hot emotion. Every song drips with frustration, and anger and perhaps most potently, offense.

While it can result in vain fascination, his offense begins to sound like complaining and becomes a chore to listen to. Like an album of a middle-aged man’s irate ramblings about “kids these days,” and disdain for technology— laid out over lackluster Dre beats. Eminem is too deliberate and too technically talented a lyricist for this to be purely accidental. While the motif was intentional, the result is an album that’s intense upon first listen, but impossible to listen to by the second or third.

On the album, Eminem seemed hellbent on flying his verses full of combustible rage into the media, the White House, women he’s involved with and of course countless contemporary rap artists. Unfortunately, the result of any successful kamikaze attack is the rapper’s own demise and subsequently, the demise of this album.

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