Guess who’s back?
On Thursday night at midnight, 15-time Grammy-winning rapper Eminem quietly dropped a surprise album, Kamikaze — teasing the release on Twitter (with a middle finger emoji) by writing, “Tried not 2 overthink this 1… enjoy.”
The LP, his second full-length studio album in eight months and tenth total in his career, was executive produced by the rapper and longtime collaborator/mentor Dr. Dre.
Clocking in at around 45 minutes, Kamikaze contains 13 tracks — including the song “Venom,” written for the upcoming Tom Hardy-led supervillain movie of the same name. Emcees Joyner Lucas and Royce Da 5’9” as well as Canadian songstress Jessie Reyez, and Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon are among the guests, while interpolations include Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble,” and L.L. Cool J’s “I’m Bad,” among others.
And the album artwork? On the front, an illustrated rudder of a jet plane seemingly in homage to the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill cover. On the rear, that same jet crashing in to a wall, its pilot flipping the bird.
Of course, Eminem (née Marshall Mathers) is as outspoken as ever — Kamikaze‘s notes on Apple Music correctly tease, “Shady punches back, and he’s naming names.”
The first track, “The Ringer,” sets the tone with the declaration, “I feel like I wanna punch the world in the f—— face right now.”
From there, there are shots at President Trump (“I empathize with the people this evil serpent sold the dream to that he’s deserted”), Vice President Mike Pence, Harvey Weinstein, Machine Gun Kelly, Joe Budden, Tyler, the Creator, and young rappers like Lil Pump, Lil Xan and Lil Yachty — the latter who Eminem slams by asking, “Do you have any idea how much I hate this choppy flow everyone copies?”
“Are you really going just to deride everybody who, you don’t like what they have to say about you or the stuff you’re working on?” Eminem’s manager, Paul Rosenberg, asks on one of two “skit” tracks — which appear to just be recorded voicemail messages. “I don’t know if that’s really a great idea, it’s like what’s next? ‘Kamikaze 2: the album where you reply to everybody who didn’t like the album that you made replying to everybody that didn’t like the previous album?’ It’s a slippery slope, I don’t know if it’s really a good idea.”
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But Slim Shady’s anger isn’t all targeted outwards.
“Stepping Stone,” arguably the LP’s most autobiographical track, sees the father reflecting on his personal demons — including the death of his former D12 bandmate Proof.
“Imma wash away my sins / Imma rinse away this dirt,” he sings. “I forgot to make amends / To all the friends I may have hurt.”
Kamakaze is available for streaming on Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, and other digital providers.