You’ve got to hand it to Eminem: for his entire career he’s made a point of pushing hyper-lyrical rap into the mainstream, regardless of if that’s what people actually want. Lucky for him, most of the time it is very much what people want. So here we are, less than a year after Revival, Eminem’s back with Kamikaze. But don’t think of it as a sequel, because it feels more like an appendix. Em spends the bulk of the very lyrically dense album railing against other rappers, the Grammys, critics, and himself, and as a result it’s a more fun listen than Revival was, largely because he’s reveling in being the villain, which he’s always done well. Picking a single track to listen to from this album is actually a bit difficult, though. Sure, some are better than others (maybe skip the song from the Venom soundtrack, which is written from the point of view of the alien symbiote), but they’re all part of a larger narrative. This time around, Eminem wants us to remember that he’s a great rapper, a veteran of the industry, and that he’s unafraid to name names, and that bleeds into every single song.
He’s most focused right at the beginning, though. On “The Ringer” he calls out, in chronological order: the alphabet, Vince Staples, people that didn’t spend enough time with Revival, Lil Yachty (sort of), Mike Pence, former fans, Lil Xan, Lil Pump, people that use Auto-Tune, Charlemagne tha God, Joe Budden, Trump supporters, Donald Trump, and also journalists. It is, frankly, exhausting, but it’s fun too. Though he doesn’t always come across as one, Eminem is a lifelong rap fan, and he is an expert at conveying something that lifelong rap fans inherently understand: calling people out is part of the game, obsessing over the most minute details is too. It’s more provocative to say that on “The Ringer” (and really on the rest of Kamikaze as well) Eminem is mad, as in, “I’m going to quit Twitter, the internet, and modern society in general and pretend the world doesn’t exist because I’m so fed up with the existence of things I don’t like,” but it’s more accurate to say that he’s actually “mad,” as in “having fun.”