Eminem’s Kamikaze makes its mark, but misses its target.
On Friday, Aug. 31, Eminem released “Kamikaze,” his 10th studio album. The 45-year-old rapper dropped the 13-track album out of nowhere, surprising fans and followers. This comes just eight months after the release of his last album, “Revival,” which received mixed reviews from critics.
“Kamikaze” has sold over 434,000 copies and been streamed over 225.5 million times as it currently sits at the top of the Billboards 200 albums chart.
This unprecedented success comes as a surprise considering there was no marketing or promotion leading up to the album release. Despite earning mainstream chart success, “Kamikaze” has been criticized for its lack of substance.
The word kamikaze, comes from the Japanese aircraft in World War II, which carried explosives meant to cause a deliberate suicidal crash on an enemy target.
The premise of Eminem’s album exemplifies just that, taking shots and insulting other rappers as he goes out on a sort of farewell tour.
Among the expletive filled banter and a voicemail from Paul Rosenburg, president of Shady Records, “Kamikaze” emphasizes Eminem’s irritation with the current state of hip-hop and his insecurity with other people’s opinions of his music.
He criticizes journalists and the press on the opening track “The Ringer,” but this is not the first time. Eminem has a history of disparaging members of the media, spanning back 17 years.
“Greatest in the world. No lie, I might be the best to ever do it,” said Eminem on “Greatest.” While Eminem’s discography and track record speak for themselves, negative reviews of his last album are what prompted him to release “Kamikaze.”
“‘Revival’ didn’t go viral, Denaun and Royce told me that I should take the high road” Eminem said on “Greatest.”
This proclamation plays in the same tune of “My left stroke just went viral” from Kendrick Lamar’s song “Humble.”
Eminem satirically imitates the rap and flow of other rappers’ hit songs throughout “Kamikaze” and considers his peers as stepping stones to his success.
“It kind of came out of nowhere. I didn’t expect it to be a diss album,” said Alec Barr, an entertainment and tourism major.
The list of targets in “Kamikaze” include Lil Pump, Lil Yachty, Tyler the Creator, Drake, Donald Trump, Machine Gun Kelly and many others. On the track “Lucky You,” Eminem says it is, in a way, payback.
“I think it was interesting because he goes after rappers like Lil Pump, Lil Yachty. It’s a shallow personal attack on their music and their style,” said Kenny Harisis, a history major.
Machine Gun Kelly, Ja Rule and Joe Budden, who were all mentioned on “Kamikaze”, have fired back at Eminem on social media. Kelly’s response has received over 60 million views on YouTube, insinuating an old-school rap battle.
Speaking of old school, the cover art of “Kamikaze” also pays homage to the Beastie Boys’ “Licensed to Ill” album art, which depicts an airplane tail and also features 13 tracks. It’s a “fly” detail except for those with triskaidekaphobia, who fear the number 13.
Overall, “Kamikaze” paints the picture of an insecure, middle-aged Marshall Mathers, who is unable to keep up with the times, willing to criticize everyone but himself through rhymes.
“Kamikaze” may satisfy hardcore Eminem stans, but those who were hoping for the real “Slim Shady” may be disappointed.
In the words of Machine Gun Kelly, “You’re not getting better with time, it’s fine, Eminem, put down the pen.”