Be honest with yourselves, when was the last time you checked for an Eminem album post-The Eminem Show?
I’ll hold my hands up and say I haven’t been checking for an album from Slim Shady since The Relapse, which in all honesty felt like a big let down.
Today (Friday, August 31) was meant to be a day reserved for the legendary D Double E’s new album, Jackuum, but in the morning my listening plans got nixed when out of nowhere Marshall Bruce Mathers III dropped his tenth solo LP, Kamikaze.
Calm down grime heads, I’m loyal. As an East London boy, Newham born-and-bred (E6 stand up!) I am going to listen to the Newham Generals’ new LP at some point today. But my hip-hop heavy heart gave in to the expectation, and while I was sceptical about a new Em LP I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.
To truly understand Kamikaze we need to look at everything he’s put out since battling and conquering his addictions and demons. It’s not been great. While I was happy he got clean and could find that light at the end of the tunnel, everything he put out since then seemed hollow.
Gone was the self-deprecating humour and dark-as-hell observations (maybe a good thing considering how times and attitudes had changed). He’d still show sparks of it, in tracks such as Rap God but it felt like he was just going through the motions.
When he dropped Revival this year, fans of his were divided and reviews were mixed – which is a roundabout way of saying a lot of ‘Stans’ weren’t feeling it. Personally, I gave it one listen and fell right asleep, that’s all you need to know about how I felt about it.
Pitchfork’s Matthew Ismael Ruiz wrote:
Musically, Revival is no different, chock full of piano ballads and pop-star features that echo the most cynically commercial corners of his catalog. The shock value comes not from the album’s overwhelmingly bland hooks or cringe-worthy humor (of which there is plenty), but from the moments where his growth as a human is most apparent
While VICE’s Robert Christgau felt:
… much cleverer than lemmings claim, bluntly and intelligently political too, but so received in its cartoon misogyny and pop grandeur you know he felt irrelevance bearing down even before #MeToo killed this album on the vine.
Glad Eminem did this.
Shit is hard. pic.twitter.com/B7HoCjkRJx
— DJSemtex (@DJSemtex) August 31, 2018
In response to the criticism Em said:
I think there’s things to be taken away from this album and the reaction to it. Were there too many songs? Were there too many features? There were certain songs like “Tragic Endings” and “Need Me” where I felt like lyrically they would give the listener a second to breathe. I spend a lot of time writing shit that I think nobody ever gets.
It still didn’t stop fellow rap peers like Joe Budden, Tyler, The Creator and commentators on the culture such as Charlemagne tha God, DJ Akademiks and Desus & Mero (who I absolutely love btw – #BODEGAHIVE all day) from clowning him for his new material.
Which brings us to Kamikaze, this is his response to all the criticisms, to the so-called purveyors of the culture who questioned whether he still has lyrical verbals to remain relevant in a genre which forgets its legends as quickly as they build them up.
Kamikaze showcases an Eminem who has reached back into his battle rap, Slim Shady days just to show the doubters he’s not to be tested on the M-I-C. Just like when Richard Pryor had to remind people ‘I ain’t dead yet’ or when Dave Chappelle told the audience ‘I’m just too good’, at the end of the day Eminem is just too good and obituaries for his career were too premature.
Is Kamikaze album of the year? Hell no. It’s not even hip-hop album of the year – that honour still goes to Pusha T’s DAYTONYA. But it is his best album since The Eminem Show. This is Marshall when he’s out to prove why he should be in your top ten/top five dead or alive rappers list.
— Marshall Mathers (@Eminem) August 31, 2018
In a genre infested with rainbow-haired artists, with face tattoos and tripping off of new age substances, who I know for their antics than their actual content, its soothing to a hip-hop head such as myself to hear someone drop lethal bars that makes me take off my headphones and say ‘God damn that was fire!’
Generally, 2018 has been a good year for hip-hop, Pusha T dropped a classic, J. Cole’s K.O.D. proves he’s on par with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Westide Gunn’s Supreme Blientele was this year’s awesome sleeper album, The Carters killed it with EVERYTHING IS LOVE. Also don’t forget we had strong projects from the God MC, Nas, Freddie Gibbs, Jay Rock, Kid CuDi, Nicki Minaj and Drake.
Kamikaze is just another worthy addition to a strong year for hip-hop.
Okay, now that’s out of the way time to listen to some D Double E. Bluku! Bluku!
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