Em Calls Paul (skit)
There’s no denying that Eminem was one of the most influential hip hop artists to grace the rap scene in the late 90s/early 2000s. His early albums fused a mix of venomous hatred, clever wit and sporadic chaos that oozed a charismatic confidence through every song. Skip forward to 2018 after a series of underwhelming albums, Eminem attempts to rekindle his early blaze of rap glory with latest effort Kamikaze. Hitting out at mainstream rappers, the hip hop scene and anyone who Eminem attributes his recent decline of fame to (except himself of course), Kamikaze feels like a contrived effort to maintain credibility and status in an ever evolving music scene.
The album begins with The Ringer, a song that sets the tone of the album with fast-paced lyrics, hitting out at the mumble rap scene including Lil Xan and Lil Pump. The proceeding song, Greatest, is arguably one of the best on the album and maintains the exhausting tempo and rapid-fire lyrics with a song chock full of emotion. It’s here that Em hits out at the mainstream rap scene and over-saturation of the genre. The rest of the album is a bit of a mixed bag; two skits nestle between the questionable inclusion of Normal and the mirror image songs of Nice Guy and Good Guy feel weak compared to some of the early tracks.
Although Kamikaze does well to showcase some of the underground talent with several collaborative tracks, the album doesn’t do much beyond that. Eminem feels like an artist struggling to find his place in a genre that’s moved on from the early days of hip hop. A dark sense of irony flows through Kamikaze; an artist hitting out at a genre that’s moved on while he himself has evolved to collaborate with mainstream pop artists.
Kamikaze is very minimalistic in its style, feeling more like a mixtape than a fully fledged, tightly produced album. Most tracks feature a basic drum beat and a simple bass structure, heavily emphasised with distortion to try and generate a “big-room” sound. While this may be something new rappers or those less accustomed to the studio may produce, for an artist the calibre of Eminem it does seem like an odd choice and makes a lot of the songs feel cheaply produced.
While Kamikaze is certainly a better offering from Eminem compared to his past 3 or 4 albums, this is still a far-cry from the incredible early work of this groundbreaking artist. Cheap productions and a contrived effort to rekindle his previous flow and charisma fails to feel like anything but a middle-aged Eminem angry at the world and a music scene that’s moved on from his era.