A week ago, Eminem released his new album entitled Kamikaze. Here you can find a review
Kamikaze, Eminem's new album that came out of surprise last Friday at dawn, is better than his previous work: Revival (2017). However, beyond that relative improvement, the album has raised more questions about the rapper's current place in the U.S. hip-hop scene, which has answered the questions that Revival had raised.
Leer en español: Eminem lucha contra la nueva generación del rap con su nuevo álbum
Kamikaze, as the name says, aims against great targets like contemporary rappers, who in Eminem's opinion stain the honor of the genre, and against the critics of his work and legacy. The problem is that he ends up being the victim of his attempts to silence those who doubted him. Kamikaze, indeed.
The native of Detroit needs no introduction. He is one of the most successful commercial rappers in history and at the beginning of the 21st century he established himself in the American cultural consciousness as the rebellious child that everyone loves to hate. On albums like The Eminem Show or The Marshall Mathers LP, he talked about how he was going to kill his ex-wife or rape some celebrities of the time.
That impact was a big part of his gasoline, in addition to his ability to rap and rhyme at high speeds. However, since the release of Encore (2005), its credibility has faltered. This is because his greatest success since then has had more to do with pop than with rap, strictly speaking, collaborating with Rihanna on songs like "Love The Way You Lie" and "The Monster".
A legacy in doubt?
The launch of Kamikaze found Eminem in a curious place. Although his musical peaks are still historical milestones of rap, his failures in his recent albums led him to question his ability to remain relevant in a context so different from the one that saw him shine.
The sexual and homophobic jokes are not funny anymore, but showed him as outdated and, worse, old. Nor did his tone help, full of energy but anger. He began to encapsulate the stereotypes of figures that no longer triumph as before and blame the new generation without questioning themselves.
In Kamikaze, Eminem seeks to defeat the new rappers at their own game. For that, he modernized his sound and drank from the trap glass. As he has shown before, no flow is big and he manages to rap with agility and speed, as was seen in "The Ringer", about challenging instrumentals. At the same time, he makes fun of the fashion artists who rap on similar styles, as happened in "Lucky You".
However, unlike J. Cole who tried something similar in KOD (2018) to warn new rappers about drug problems, Eminem does not manage to connect with anyone, nor transmit any message: he only remains bitter and frustrated.
This isolation of Eminem is only enhanced by gratuitous and less strategic homophobic insults whose target, in this case, is one of the most respected artists of the moment for his creativity and aesthetics: Tyler, The Creator. What worked in 2003 does not work 15 years later.
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A cloudy future
It is not clear how he ages with grace in rap, being a relatively new genre and living mostly of youth and their preferences. JAY-Z, with her album 4:44, seems to have found and dictated the path: put aside the arrogance of twenty-something and embrace the frailty of middle age.
It seems that Eminem did not get the memo. Much of Kamikaze is dedicated to answering critics and telling them they are wrong because they do not appreciate their work, their status and their trajectory. While it is possible that there has been injustice in the treatment that has received a legend of hip-hop, would do well to rethink its approach to art, as well as look for less rusty and outdated sounds, such as the chorus of "Venom".
Rapping fast and hard have been his hallmarks, but that does not seem to be insufficient today. Everything indicates that you should look for a balance that maintains your aggressiveness without relying on homophobia, misogyny and the empty calories of rhyming at great speed to survive. Kamikaze is better than Revival and shows some awareness of his place in music today, but it would be an exaggeration to say that it is a step in the right direction.
Kamikaze is already on Spotify and other Streaming platforms
LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Cembrano
Translated from "Eminem lucha contra la nueva generación del rap con su nuevo álbum"