Eminem drops surprise album ‘Kamikaze’ full of vitriolic bars and finger-pointing

FILE - In this July 20, 2015, file photo, rapper Eminem attends the premiere of "Southpaw" in New York. Eminem released his new album “Kamikaze” on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

On Friday, Aug. 3, Eminem surprised everyone by dropping his unannounced album “Kamikaze,” full of vitriolic bars and heavy beats. The album is a follow-up to the media criticism his 2017 album, “Revival,” received.

Eminem dives right in with his vicious attacks on his media critics, current rappers and the government on the first track of the album, “The Ringer.” It’s clear from this song that Eminem feels attacked for being a true wordsmith in a continuously growing industry of mumble rap and catchy lyrics. He attacks many of today’s popular SoundCloud rappers: “So finger-bang,/ chicken wang, MGK, Iggy 'zae/ Lil Pump, Lil Xan imitate Lil Wayne/ I should aim at everybody in the game, pick a name.”

He also attacks critics of “Revival” on the track. His 2017 album didn’t get the shining reviews that Em clearly hoped it would: “But if you're lookin' to get a porterhouse you better go get Revival/ But y'all are actin' like I tried to serve you up a slider/ Maybe the vocals shoulda been auto-tuned/ And you woulda bought it/ But sayin' I no longer got it/ 'Cause you missed the line and never caught it/ 'Cause it went over your head, because you're too stupid to get it.”

“The Ringer” is the track off “Kamikaze” that has been getting the most attention, mainly because of the long list of disses that are embedded in the lyrics. But that’s truly all “The Ringer” (and really, the rest of the album) is: A diss track. The beat behind “The Ringer” is weak and feels more like a way for Eminem to get his anger out rather than a way to create art out of his anger, which is what he’s been best known for doing in the past.

The interesting thing about “Kamikaze” is that although Eminem opens the album by putting down the 2018 style of rap, he incorporates many trap beats and popular rap references on the album. The chorus of the second track “The Greatest” references Playboi Carti’s “wokeuplikethis*” when Eminem raps, “Woke up to honkies sounding like me.”

The track “Lucky You” has a strong trap beat that’s similar to many of the popular rap songs on the radio today. On “Not Alike,” Eminem uses a Migos-like flow that references the group’s hit “Bad and Boujee.” “Nice Guy” features a slower flow, hard trap verses and an Autotuned-sounding feature by Jessie Reyez.

So is Eminem being hypocritical or mocking? Is he purposefully using all of the popular features of today’s rap that he disses in his first track as a way to ridicule the style? Or is he trying to win back the media and his fans by updating his own style?

Knowing Eminems’s track record, it’s most likely the former. Yet “Kamikaze” won’t restore Eminem to his former glory; in fact, it seems to be doing the opposite. Although the album showcases Eminem’s impeccable MC skills, the continuous disses against nearly everyone seems tired and childish. At the end of the day, “Kamikaze” is an album where Eminem blames everyone except himself for his declining popularity.

Rating: 2/5 stars


Lucie Turkel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at lucie.turkel@uconn.edu.