Late last year, Eminem released his ninth studio album, “Revival.” And while I didn’t review the record at the time, I can sum up my thoughts on it quickly here:
It was the worst album of 2017.
I’m not exaggerating to seem funny, and I’m also hardly alone in this opinion. The record was panned by critics far more influential than myself — Consequence of Sound gave the record an “F” on their letter grade system.
It just got too far away from what made Eminem good in the first place. Em’s rapping was too corny, and there were way, way too many pop features.
I could go on about how terrible “Revival” is, but this isn’t a review of that album. Last Friday, Eminem released his 10th studio album, “Kamikaze,” totally by surprise. And I have to say, it’s one of the best turnarounds I’ve ever seen from a totally awful record. But there’s also some pretty ugly lyrics on it, which kind of bring down the whole experience for me.
There’s never been a question of whether or not Eminem has been an excellent lyricist; thanks to his incredibly in-depth rhyme schemes and word play, he’s undoubtedly one of the best in hip-hop. On “Kamikaze,” he turns those sharp-eyed lyrical skills on everyone who said something negative about him in the wake of “Revival”… which is pretty much everyone.
The record opens with a dizzying, nearly six-minute-long verse called “The Ringer” where Eminem takes the rap game to task, attempting to remind everyone of the greatness he once had, and at the same time trying to point out the dire straights he feels rap has ended up in.
“I can see why people like Lil Yachty, but not me though; / Not even dissin’, it just ain’t for me./ All I am simply is just an MC, / Maybe ‘Stan’ just isn’t your cup of tea,/ Maybe your cup’s full of syrup and lean,” Eminem spits in the song.
Taking rappers to task is a recurring theme. Over and over, Eminem talks about how great artists like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Big Sean are — while I vehemently disagree with that last one — while taking aim at “lesser” rappers like Lil Pump, the Migos and Machine Gun Kelly.
It’s amazing to hear Eminem be truly angry again. While on “Revival,” it felt like he was putting on airs, stirring up drama just for its own sake, here on “Kamikaze,” the negative press about the previous album has given him the necessary kick to get back to the quality of lyricism we’re used to from the emcee.
Unfortunately, though, while he sounds like he’s rapping like he was back in the 1990s again, he’s using the same sort of homophobic language that he used back then, too.
On “Fall,” Eminem briefly takes aim at Tyler, the Creator, whose “Flower Boy” was one of the most stirringly emotional hip-hop records of recent memory, due mostly to lyrics seemingly about Tyler coming to terms with his still ambiguous sexuality.
Tyler incurred the wrath of Slim Shady after he called “Revival” single “Walk on Water” “horrible” — and he’s totally right.
So here, on “Fall,” Eminem forgets that he’s a 45-year-old man in 2018.
“Tyler create nothin’, I see why you called yourself a fa****, b****,/ It’s not just ‘cause you lack attention,/ It’s because you worship D12’s balls, you’re sack-religious,/ If you’re gonna critique me, you better at least be as good or better,” Eminem raps here.
It needs to be repeatedly said that this sort of thing just isn’t cool. It’s crossing a line that doesn’t need to be crossed. Homophobic language doesn’t really serve a place in art, much less when it’s directed at a man whose most recent album seemed to be about either his own homosexuality or bisexuality.
It’s really a shame that Eminem, who, I remind you, is nearly 50, felt the need to stoop to schoolyard insults. This lyric truly leaves a bad taste in my mouth, ruining what was an otherwise really good record for me. It seems like, no matter how hard he tries, Eminem always manages to put in his foot in his mouth somehow.