So Eminem is back…but what’s new?
Seriously, what is new? Now before I get angry and go on a rant about this album, let me get this one thing out. This new record is better than Revival, but Em’s tenth studio album (if you count Infinite), Kamikaze, is the all the pent up rage and anger he kept in after the response of his last album. He sounds inspired and focused, but he’s lacking precision. It’s like he finally gets the pair of glasses he needed to see, but still can’t hit the target. And that’s the problem.
Eminem has had one of the most longstanding careers in hip-hop and like he stated in the latter half of the album, has inspired a lot of new age rappers. They loved him and adored him, but he doesn’t love them back. Frankenstein hates his monsters. He doesn’t want to see any bit of it. Then he sees the clones of his peers and rappers that are more popular than him. He’s in a fit of rage. The fists are ready for each and every rapper but there aren’t any KOs. Really good lefts, straights, and uppercuts. Instead, this might be the last thing that solidifies them in the new age.
When a genre goes through a transformation or change of sound, there is this backlash from the generation before it. This backlash is what actually establishes the newer sound. It becomes cool to pushback against it and the friction between them just ignites the fire more to blast off the new sound into the stratosphere. Eminem is just giving more validation to this thing he hates by acknowledging it in the first place. Then, there is the problem of criticizing the new style by using it in your own raps as a commentary. It just doesn’t cut it and neither does the rest of this album.
Now the whole album isn’t terrible or the worst thing to come out this year, but it might the most disappointing. How can you drop a surprise album and it not be worth the surprise? There are moments of sporadic greatness in bars and the majority of the beats are bass rattling greatness. But, then there are plenty of corny bars that don’t elevate them. Then….there are the cringey hooks that, if I’m being nice. The good parts of the album are scattered. Either the hook and beat are great and there are good bars or it’s the opposite, or a combination of mix-n-match – a solid song from start to finish is hard to find. “The Ringer” has a slow start but finds its footing to become one of the better songs on the album. The best song on the album is “Lucky You” featuring Joyner Lucas, who might have my favorite verse on the whole record – a person who was passed the torch by Em, but went his own way.
Eminem makes it his duty to call out all the people he’s addressing by name. “Fall” will undoubtedly be one of the songs most discussed because of the name dropping. Whether it’s Joe Budden, Migos, Logic, Drake, Tyler, or any the new Lil’s, Eminem wants all the smoke and doesn’t care who fires back. He invites it. And as entertaining a back and forth between him and any of them would be, it probably won’t happen. He’s Eminem, after all, and those careers don’t want a loss or anymore to their name. Eminem’s own name has gone to his head. His head is inflated on the legacy he’s built and it’s bound to pop.
At the end of the day, we got a new album from one of the most prolific artists of the 2000s. But we’re almost at the end of the 2010s and he might need to stop trying to surprise us. He’s running in place or backwards. He said, “I was here before you and I’ll be here after you”, but what will your legacy look like by the end Em? What do you want it to look like? We’re already watching, but what do you want to see? I guess we’ll find out next time.