By Logan McRay
Released with little advance press on August 31, 2018, “Kamikaze” is the tenth album by notorious hip-hop artist Eminem. Since first exploding on to the popular music scene in 1999 with the success of the “Slim Shady LP”, Eminem has regularly released albums, contributed to Hollywood blockbuster soundtracks, and done his best to remain relevant in a constantly shifting cultural and political landscape. Once a darling of the music press with his “outrageous” take-downs of fellow pop music and reality stars (remember Christina Aguilera? or Carson Daly?) and liberal sprinklings of violent rape and revenge fantasies, Marshall Mathers seems to finally be at odds with an entertainment establishment frantically trying to rehabilitate its image from the ubiquitous #MeToo scandals and increasing criticisms from less forgiving consumers with a keen eye out for the next (White) patriarchal offender.
The cover artwork of “Kamikaze” recalls the iconic cover of the other “White” hip-hop superstar Beastie Boys blockbuster album “License to Ill." The Beastie Boys tread similar waters of being ostensibly “White” artists financially dominating an art form considered “Black.” The Beastie Boys started from punk rock roots to tour with Madonna with provocative stage props (giant inflatable penis) to eventually embracing anti-war and popular 90’s liberal causes (Free Tibet!). This choice of artwork can hardly be a coincidence.
It’s hard to say whether it was Eminem’s (or his management’s) choice to drop this album without fanfare to get it out before the tie in with the upcoming superhero movie Venom (the track “Venom” is included here), or rather just a collection of leftovers from his last disappointing album “Revival." Eminem has been diligently fighting for relevance for many years now and the unceremonious roll out of character.
So how’s the album? I personally have never been a fan of Eminem’s ventures into more “poppy” areas. The tired formula of a rap verse followed with a sung chorus by a guest artist wore thin for me after his hit "Stan" with Dido. Thankfully, that formula is sparse on this album. This album is relatively minimal in production and practically sample free. It is a hard-hitting album with less fat than previous Eminem releases (46 minutes is still a bit long IMO). Tracks are concise and rhythms punchy.
So, how is this album at odds with popular culture? After his Donald Trump baiting stunt on BET, Eminem seems to be unhappy that the press is not giving him the proper props. He specifically calls them out on the opening track “The Ringer.” He also includes a couple of meta “skits” with his manager Paul Rosenberg who criticizes Eminem for making music just to respond to the press and his critics. It’s not hard to imagine Eminem decrying “fake news” when it comes to less than glowing reviews of his music.
So, should a person buy this album? It’s degenerate. It’s released by an amoral music corporation. These are the musings of (according to legend) a working class White kid who made good perfecting a “Black” art form. Eminem writes songs about drug use, rape, his promiscuous mother, how much he loves his daughter, and his penis. I suspect that the majority of his audience is White. This is the world we live in. It’s not a surprise that some of the most effective right-wing propaganda has come courtesy of Mr. Bond and Moonman. Eminem is talented without a doubt. This is better than “Revival” but not quite as good as “Relapse” (my favorite, shoot me); but I hope to see the day that he realizes that the same degeneracy and nihilism that he pushes endangers the daughter he seems to love so much.
[Editor's note: I feel compelled to answer Logan's final question here. "Should a person buy this album?" At this point, absolutely not. We've limped along as a culture for a while now, making excuses and rationalizing why we should continue giving our hard-earned dollars to an industry that only promotes degeneracy. Furthermore, I think it's a bit too generous to call them "an amoral music corporation." It's become clear that they are actively working toward and promoting our destruction. To continue funding them is suicidal.
However, as Logan aptly pointed out "This is the world we live in." This is a completely true statement. Therefore, if we want to win, we have to meet our people where they are, not where we want them to be.
In light of this, I've decided to release a rap song that a friend of mine and I recorded last year in the wake of Charlottesville. It's called "Battle of Cville" and we play the characters D'Dre and Total Justhiss (me). We produced it with the intention of releasing it as black (read as subversive) propaganda, but we ran into some administrative snags. This will also be a good opportunity to have a discussion about the importance of subversive propaganda and the "Art Question" more generally which we'll be addressing at length in the coming months. In fact, I'll probably do an episode of Artistic Dissection about how "Battle of Cville" came into being.
So, if you have money to spend on music and you're a fan of rap, help a wigga out.
You can listen to the full song here.
You can buy it here.
Thanks for the excellent article Logan. Please keep them coming!