“Kamikaze” misses its target

"Kamikaze" album cover pays homage to Beastie Boys "Licensed to ill." Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamikaze_(Eminem_album)

Melissa Ellin, Editor in Chief

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On Aug. 31, rapper Eminem surprised us by releasing “Kamikaze,” an album in which he essentially disses everyone he’s ever known (or hasn’t).

“The Ringer,” the first song on “Kamikaze,” serves as Eminem’s manifesto. The tempo’s slow and there’s a consistent beat that works for the song. In the song he calls out rapper Vince Staples, American broadcaster Joe Budden, rapper Lil Yachty and loads more. He goes on to criticize all the journalists out there reviewing and questioning his music (yes, I do see the irony in me writing a review). “The Ringer” sets the tone for album, demonstrating Eminem is fed up and will ensure people know it.

Eminem fires shots throughout his album. In the second song, “Greatest,” he lashes out at all the people who believe he’s past his prime. The song has an ominous tone with orchestral notes. In the third track, “Lucky You (feat. Joyner Lucas),” we see Eminem change things up a bit. He places blame on himself for a change. “I done said a lotta things in my day, I admit it/This is payback in a way, I regret it that I did it/I done won a couple Grammys but I sold my soul to get ’em.” There’s a consistent drum beat with chimes in the background for Lucas’ part, but when Eminem enters there’s a piano. The artists’ voices and different beats are a nice blend. The change of pace and Eminem acknowledging his faults act as a refresher amidst the spitfire hatred that is the majority of the album.

For the fourth and sixth tracks, Eminem switches things up by doing skits. The first skit, “Paul” is probably my favorite part of the album. It’s a recording of Eminem’s manager, Paul Rosenberg, telling him taking out people in an album isn’t smart.

“I mean, I don’t know if [the album’s] really a great idea, it’s-it’s like, what’s next? “Kamikaze two,” the album where you reply to everybody who didn’t like the album that you made replying to everybody that didn’t like the previous album?”

By adding this recording, Eminem is saying he not only knew the entire album was him attacking people, but he released it anyway because he doesn’t care.

The other skit, “Em calls Pauls,” is slightly alarming because Eminem threatens to beat up a random Michigan man who tore into Eminem’s lyrics, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.

In contrast, the fifth song, “Normal,” has a slower tempo and a more common musical theme: romance. The follow-up song, “Stepping Stone,” is something different altogether. Eminem addresses his former rap group and tries to apologize to them. Like every song, it had a drum background, but unlike the rest it had Eminem actually singing as opposed to rapping. I can’t say Eminem is the best singer, but the guitar background and tone made up for his mediocre voice. This song was nicely done and is probably my favorite song on the album because it’s more musical and it’s not as preachy as other songs.

Song eight, “Not Alike (feat. Royce Da 5’9),” should have been on a Royce Da 5’9’s album featuring Eminem as Eminem really wasn’t present for the first two minutes. And when Eminem did enter, he became more whiny, spending far too much time ripping into Machine Gun Kelly (MGK). I felt like I was at a rap battle, not listening to a Grammy-winning artist’s album. It also had a piano which lead into an annoying snare which remained until the section (or should I say two straight minutes) where Eminem attacked MGK.

Unlike its predecessor, song nine, “Kamikaze,” is all Eminem. This is one of the better songs on the album because it’s catchier. It has a consistent chorus and is easier to understand than some of Eminem’s other music. But just like all the other songs it’s really just him continuing to whine about everything.

“Fall,” song 10, was repetitive and sounded much more like a pop song. In it, Eminem rips into the Grammys. I get he was trying to criticize them for doling out awards to what he believes are trash artists, but it comes off as an annoying, jealousy-charged harangue done to a musical background.

The next song, “Nice Guy — (feat. Jessie Reyez)” is nothing special. Frankly, it’s a short piece that doesn’t seem to flow with the rest of the album. Then again, maybe that’s good considering it’s really a long rant. After “Nice Guy,” is “Good Guy,” also featuring Reyez. I guess they just couldn’t fit it all into one song. This song is more pop-like, and I think it’s something that will be played on the radio. It’s not about Eminem trashing people, and it’s less vulgar than other songs.

The thirteenth and final song on the album is titled “Venom,” because it will be in the upcoming Marvel movie of the same name. This song, like the two before it, is more mainstream and doesn’t jive with the rest of the album. I think it was just convenient for Eminem to tack it on, but other than publicizing the movie, I don’t think it serves a purpose.

After listening to the entire album, I’m not sure if it’s overkill, or pure genius. Yes, Eminem basically spent 45 minutes yelling at people, but he also acknowledged he was doing it. And regardless of whether people like the album, it’s getting a lot of buzz.

Overall, I think “Kamikaze” isn’t so bad… If you listen to the songs individually, or don’t pay attention to the lyrics.

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