Kamikaze | album cover

Hip Hop Album Review: Kamikaze (Eminem)

I must say, I did not expect to be reviewing another Eminem album this soon after covering Revival. There was a four year gap between Revival and The Marshall Mathers LP 2, and there was a three year gap between The Marshall Mathers LP 2 and Recovery. Yet not even a full year has passed between the release of Revival and Kamikaze.

I had very high praises for Revival and I considered it to be one of his best albums if not THE best, but as usual for me this opinion turned out to be in the minority. Revival was among Eminem’s most panned albums since Relapse and a lot of people seemed to have hated it, and it was clear Em didn’t take it very well.

I don’t blame Em for his reaction given that Revival was meant to show him at his most vulnerable and human in a medium that is known for expecting its participants to be tough and stable. The very first track on Revival was about his fading relevance and his fears that he can’t own up to his prior legacy, and the poor reception of Revival likely didn’t alleviate those fears.

Kamikaze was clearly made in response to the poor reception of Revival and is meant to be a representation of Em going back on every bit of growth he had in the last decade or so and is instead a return to his roots. Instead of taking the high road, he decides he’s going to fire back at everyone who dissed him or talked shit about him regardless of the risks present. The title “Kamikaze” is a highly fitting title considering that this could be just as harmful to himself as it is to everyone else. He’s fully aware of just what could go wrong but has decided to go for it anyway. We will take a look at this track by track.

The Ringer (4/5)

I think this is a fairly solid track but a bit on the bland side. The lyrics are solid and well written and the beat is nice, but the flow is slightly off at points and it just feels like it’s missing that extra punch. I do think it sets the tone for the rest of the album quite nicely though but I wouldn’t put this among one of Em’s all time greats.

Greatest (4/5)

This one is a bit closer to a 5/5 than The Ringer is but it still kinda lacks that extra oomph that a lot of Em’s best tracks have. Don’t get me wrong, this track is certainly catchy and there were bits that I definitely like such as the way he says “Denaun an Royce tell me that I should take the high road.” But I may chock this one up to not caring all that much for the beat or the hook. But again, it’s still a solid track.

Lucky You (5/5)

Okay, now THIS is a badass track. Both Joyner and Em’s verses were absolutely wicked and I love the contrast between the two in how Joyner never got any trophies and how Em is unsatisfied with his fame and still continues to pursue more and more. The food analogy was definitely appropriate as well. The flow was also on point and it was impressive how both of them delivered their lines. Lyrics were also clever and well written and the beat was solid.

Normal (4/5)

I was initially prepared to bash this one considering It sounded like just another petty breakup track, but I listened to it closely before deciding to write this section and I think I changed my mind. I don’t care much for the flow or the beat but the lyrics are pretty solid. It’s about how Em keeps ending up in fucked up relationships with other women and his frustration with how he keeps ending up with a bunch of crazy chicks, which in turn brings out the worst in him and makes him do things he later regrets. I think this one separates itself from his previous relationship themed tracks in that it is more subdued compared to tracks like Revival’s “Tragic Endings, which symbolizes how he ends up in these type of relationships that this is now “normal” to him.

Stepping Stone (5/5)

Easily the best track on the album. The flow, lyrics, and delivery are all flawless and there is a powerful sense of emotion put into this track. It actually feels more like it would fit on Revival given that album had a recurring theme of apologies and growth that also is present in this track. I do think its inclusion on Kamikaze is meant to show that Em still kept his growth but is merely choosing to return to his roots for the time being.

As for the song itself, the lyrics are heavily on point. It is Em’s apology to the rest of D12 for using them as a stepping stone for his fame and the toll it took on their friendship. Of special note is the hook which is especially piercing and powerful.

Not Alike (3/5)

“Not Alike” is a pretty solid track albeit slightly on the bland side. Given the amount of tracks on this album are basically about Em’s haters, this one is slightly on the repetitive side  but on its own its fairly solid. The lyrics are solid and the flow is alright, but the only parts that really stick out are the MGK diss and the line “the only things we have in common are I’m a dick and you suck.” In general I don’t have much to say about this one.

Kamikaze (5/5)

This was another one that I grew more fond of when listening closely. While the start does sound slightly rough, particularly the fact that the line “you beat me Islamic Nazi that means there is no such thing” sounds like Google translate tier gibberish even if it rhymes very well with the preceding line, and that the beat sounds kinda grating and abrasive. In a way I find it rather symbolic of the very theme of this track and thus the album as a whole.

It is easy to tell that Em was very perfectionist with how he put together Revival. Anyone who has listened to “Walk on Water” can easily tell this was the mindset he had. This was also a likely reason why Revival took so long to make. I should note that “perfectionism” is not always a good thing since many of us tend to be our own biggest critics, and that any form of art is purely subjective. Even if you struggle to make everything absolutely perfect, there will be people who don’t like it. The reason for this is that everyone’s definition of “perfect” is different.

That’s why Kamikaze the album is the antithesis of Revival in that it was put together in less of a year and is instead Em deciding to base all his tracks on reckless emotion without regard to the consequences. “Kamikaze” the track to me represents a rejection of that perfectionism. Going with an instrumental that sounds discordant and dissonant (although still nowhere as grating as MGK’s Binge EP in that regard), some weird flow at the start, and even a random freestyle bit at the end where he rhymes “booth” with “truth” despite the fact that he considers that a very overdone rhyme….

…yes I know it’s a polysyllabic rhyme shut up…

Fall (5/5)

This is a pretty damn good track. The beat is smoothe and the flow is mostly solid, and this is another track symbolizing Em abandoning his inhibitions in order to avoid falling off the radar. Not much to really say, this one is just wicked.

Nice Guy (0/5)

This track is just fucking garbage. It has absolutely nothing going for it. It opens up with a screechy “female” voice that I can’t tell whether or not is actually a woman’s or a man making on of those annoying girly voices, the hook is dull and repetitive and whenever it plays the beat abruptly changes without any type of lead, Em’s flow is stilted and awkward, and the thing is only 2 minutes and 30 seconds long. I know that it’s supposed to be paired with the following track but fuck it, if you’re going to have them as two separate tracks then I will treat them as such.

Good Guy (2/5)

This one is a little better but still kind of ehh to me. While Em’s flow and lyrics are more on part and the beat works far better, there are still quite a few problems with it. The first being that it’s still under 3 minutes and does not feel like a complete song. The other is that Jessie Reyez’s singing is just… bad. She sounds like Whitey from Eight Crazy Nights for fucks sake. That’s not a comparison you EVER want to have.

Venom (5/5)

Now, this track is just fucking sweet. Everything is just top notch. The production is excellent and the aggressive nature of the track fits both the intended meaning and the film it represents. I found the way that Em drew a comparison between Venom and Eddie Brock’s symbiotic relationship as well has his own relationship with most of his fanbase. It’s especially fitting as the final track on the album as it is in a way symbolic of how his own refusal to conform and abide by societal norms will inevitably continue to inspire others to do the same. It draws a stark contrast to the days of his earlier work where he was almost resentful of the fact that kids hung on to every word of his and got into trouble, and shows that he realizes those same kids are now all grown up.

On another note, it’s kinda dumb how the song’s only use in the movie is in the credits. Why get someone as big as Eminem to do a song for your movie if it’s not going to be used in a part where most people will watch?

Anyway my review came out a lot longer than I intended. Seems to be a pattern with album reviews cause it’s not my blog’s main thing and that I’m not quite as into hip hop as other people are. There are a lot of people who are far more well versed in the scene than I am. My current stance on whether to make more album reviews is “maybe.” I just tend to do what I feel like doing so likely if there is something that prompts me to do so.

Anyway the overall rating of this album is 42/55, which is roughly 76%. I stand by what I said in that I thought Revival was a better album despite the fact that this will likely be seen as quite the hot take among Eminem’s fanbase or hip hop fans but that’s pretty par for the course for my opinions. And even if I count “Nice Guy” and “Good Guy” as a single song, it would get a 1/5 rating and the score would be 41/50, which equates to 82%; still low than Revival’s 85%.

Anyway see you all next time.

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