Eminem Has Just Released A Surprise Album To Silence His Critics. Listen Here (Audio)
When Eminem released his Revival album last December, the project was met with tepid reception from critics and fans alike. Em had set the bar exceedingly high, even for him, after a BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher in early October that nearly broke the internet, and dominated world news cycles for days. The clip featured Eminem delivering a furious freestyle that was a scorched Earth takedown of President Donald Trump and everything he stood for. Em also made it clear that he had zero tolerance for anyone who supported Trump, including Em’s own fans.
That cypher may have caused people to believe that Revival would be of a similar tone, but, his first single, “Walk On Water,” featuring Beyoncé, was much more indicative of what was to come. While substantive in its lyrics about Em’s angst over dealing with the pressure to always best himself, the song was wrapped in the kind of mainstream Pop that accompanied some of Em’s biggest hits over the years. In the age where the mainstream has embraced more unfiltered Hip-Hop, such as the raw messages and music of artists like Kendrick Lamar, however, the song and much of the album seemed watered down by comparison.
One of Em’s more vocal critics was someone within Marshall Mathers’ inner circle. Joe Budden, who was riding a wave of increased visibility and popularity as host of talk show Everyday Struggle, also was an artist signed by Eminem’s Shady Records, as part of the group Slaughterhouse. When Joe critiqued “Walk On Water,” he did not hold back, saying “Throw it in rice…This is one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. This is the first time in my life that I feel like the ball is being dropped on Eminem.” Eminem’s second single, “Untouchable,” fared no better in Joe’s opinion. “[Eminem], you will not use the plight of Black people to sell a f*cking record and widen your profit margin. Em’, I love and respect [you]. The things I learned from him is part of the reason I retired early because if you’re at the top of Rap, I don’t want that…Em’ is surrounded by too many musical geniuses to put this quality of music out.”
In fairness, Budden was not alone in his criticism. The album failed to make many year-end lists, and received a 50 out of 100 from Metacritic, which compiles reviews from a number of publications. The album also only moved 267,000 album-equivalent units in its first week, a paltry number for the best selling artist of the aughts.
Despite his reputation for unplugging from society and holing up in his studio, Eminem was very aware of the reception to the album. In January, he released a blistering remix to his song, “Chloraseptic,” in which he responded directly to his critics, including Budden. In a new verse for the song, he rapped “‘Rap mature / Why can’t you be like Macklemore?’/ Huh? ‘Why you always gotta smack a whore? / It’s likely the psychiatric ward’s a last resort / Something’s gotta give, that’s for sure / Yet you keep comin’ back for more’ / Not as raw as I was, ‘”Walk On Water” sucks.’” Later in the verse, he added “B*tch, suck my d*ck / Y’all saw the tracklist and had a fit ‘fore you heard it / So you formed your verdict / While you sat with your arms crossed / Did your little reaction videos and talked over songs.”
That song appeared to conclude Eminem’s thoughts on the matter, but it seems he has more to say. Today (August 31), he has released a surprise album that further addresses the criticisms lobbed at him over Revival and also serves as a reminder to all that he is fully capable of real raw Rap. If Revival was representative of Marshall Mathers, this new project seems to be Slim Shady serving up middle fingers to the world.
The album, titled Kamikaze, is 13 tracks. While Revival was filled with high profile Pop artists, the only other voices on this project belong to Royce 5’9, one of Em’s staunchest defenders of the last few months, Jessie Reyez, and Joyner Lucas. Both Royce and Joyner are two of the most lyrical MCs rapping right now.
As the days pass, more will be unpacked from the album. For now, press play and weigh in.