The last time I heard anything from Eminem was his uploaded rant at a bloke called Donald Trump. Having recently celebrated ten years of sobriety from addiction (all big stuff), the free-styler/rap-olympian/Shady one has dropped his 10th album, Kamikaze.
We are all aware Eminem has immense skills of putting life into words. In 2009’s Relapse, he described the discomfort, the hurt, and the fear of sobriety like no other. The dismay of being in recovery from addiction saw the Detroit native so eloquently put fear into words, and the 8 Mile actor doesn’t hold back with his frustration here, either.
Opening track, ‘The Ringer’, showcases his exceptional quick-flow. He tells us “I’m just gonna write down…my first thoughts and see where this takes me”, the moment those words come from his mouth, we know this is going to be dangerous and exciting. He goes all out on Trump, musicians, and still manages to hit us with lines like “I don’t even close my eyes when I sneeze”.
‘The Greatest’ continues in the same vein (“You better bring more men than the latter-day saints”), while ‘Lucky You’, featuring Massachusetts rapper, Joyner Lucas, is a great mix – a tune about Eminem losing his soul for a Grammy. Royce Da 5’9 makes an appearance on ‘Not Alike’, with the Bad Meets Evil man showing his ever-growing vocal strength, while the impressive Jessie Reyez joins the fold on tracks 11 and 12; the darker, distorted beats of ‘Nice Guy’, and follow-up, ‘Good Guy’.
A skit is always welcome, but it’s not Ken Kaniff, we have Paul Rosenberg leaving a message on Em’s phone saying how he’s concerned about this record. Em, calls Paul back in an old-school rant with a humorous ending.
We get Em’s emotional side on track seven, ‘Stepping Stone’. A track about breakups of friendship and what could’ve been done differently. He also mentions the death of fellow Detroit rapper, and D12 member, Proof, who was murdered in 2006. This feels and sounds like a ‘making amends’ track, how he never meant to make those people his stepping stones. It ends with the line “It’s not goodbye to our friendship, but D12 is over”. Strong stuff.
However, Eminem is always at his best when he’s getting things off his chest, so title-track ‘Kamikaze’ is a definite highlight – “Richard Ramirez is here, Serial killin’ every beat”.
We also get a solid ‘hitting-back’ track with ‘Fall’. Now, I’m not going to lie, I’ve no idea who most of these people are who Em is sticking a finger up to, but one stand out line is his response to comments made by American radio-host, Charlamagne tha God; “One Last time for Charlamagne, If my response is late, it’s just how long it takes to hit my fuckin’ radar, I’m so far away”.
The album finishes with ‘Venom’, a track which’ll feature in the up-coming Spider Man spin-off movie of the same name. The beat has the motion-picture vibe to it and he even gives a shout out to Edgar Allen Poe.
Kamikaze once again shows us Eminem’s worth; listening to him create lyrics makes me need to take a breath in-between his flow. Over the years the Shady one has never been afraid to tell us where he is in life, to his opinion on everything from Donald Trump, Machine Gun Kelly and Tommy from Rugrats. No matter what people feel about him he’s true to himself, he’s his own man. You can feel his gratitude to all the people who stood by him through the various challenges he’s faced during his career, from mentor Dr Dre, Paul Rosenberg, Cypress Hill and Kathy Griffin. But, as Kamikaze shows, his barbs too are as sharp as ever.
Kamikaze is out now via UMGRI / Interscope.