On Kamikaze, hip-hop veteran Eminem disses rappers like Lil Yachty and Machine Gun Kelly with tight lyricism and vicious roasts.
If you thought the real Slim Shady took a seat after 2013’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2, get ready for his crash landing back to Earth.
Speedy flows and meaty disses have all but disappeared from rap since Auto-Tune became the drug of choice for artists. But with Kamikaze, Eminem reminds his fans — or, rather, “Stans” — how pure vocal talent can carry a beat further than branding, media presence or hype.
Eminem’s new album was a surprise to the world; it debuted without warning on Aug. 31. Over 13-tracks, Eminem and friends like Royce Da 5’9”, Joyner Lucas and even indie-folk group Bon Iver make a case for a return to the roots of rap and its original purpose as street poetry.
A can of worms spills out from every song as Eminem lights up on the cardinal sins perpetrated by new-school artists who make money by mumbling and have corrupted the hip-hop throne by using ghost writers.
Opening track “The Ringer” criticizes rappers such as Lil Xan, Lil Pump and the sluggish vocal style pioneered by Lil Yachty. “Not Alike” fires shots specifically at rapper Machine Gun Kelly, packing a magazine of 77 syllables in 12 seconds and flexing Eminem’s seamless originality.
Kamikaze takes multiple listens to fully grasp, and Eminem’s textbook rapid-fire style makes a close study possible. Unlike the mumbling of all the Lil’s. Slim Shady’s vicious roasts and cutthroat style tell a story that doesn’t fall over itself mid verse.
This is Eminem’s best album in years because it pulls in high-caliber talent to bring intense, street-style flows back into mainstream rap. The album stabs and bites with sharpened knives and serrated teeth.
The sounds that made Slim Shady famous rediscovers itself on Kamikaze. Have a few listens yourself — and don’t forget to wear a bulletproof vest.