On August 31, Grammy-winning rapper and 46-year-old man with "weird beard," Marshall Mathers, surprise-dropped his tenth album, Kamikaze. I remember that night. I was at a friend's birthday party at a bar, and overheard people talking about "Eminem's new album." I was like, "What?!" Part of me wanted to leave the party immediately and go listen to it at home. What can I say? I'm a fan.
However, like most of the world, I wasn't feeling Eminem's last album, Revival. The tracklist featured multiple pop singers the old Slim Shady would have mocked. At 77 minutes, it was more bloated than a pregnant Jabba The Hut. The production included beats sampling Joan Jett and The Cranberries, with zero Dr. Dre. And the wannabe radio hit Remind Me contained this cringeworthy lyric: "Your booty is heavy duty like diarrhea." (WHYYY?!) In the end, Revival was critically panned, and. compared to Eminem's previous albums, a commercial failure.
Well, success is the best revenge. Billboard announced that Kamikaze has gone platinum in the United States, signifying sales and streams of over a million units. I'm not surprised; the album was a return to form. It was a tight listen at 45 minutes, featuring beats from today's biggest hitmakers (Mike Will Made It, Boi-1da, Tay Fife). Also, instead of featuring soaring hooks from pop stars, it featured killer verses from your favorite rapper's favorite rappers, Joyner Lucas and Royce da 5'9". Best of all, Em dropped the dad-jokes, and dropped ferocious verses like he had something to prove. (And he did.)
It's great that Marshall Mathers is happy in real life, but on the mic, Angry Eminem is the best Eminem. After holding his tongue on Revival, Em dissed all the figures in hip-hop that have been talking trash about him: Joe Budden, Tyler The Creator, Lord Jamar, Charlemagne Tha God, and of course, Machine Gun Kelly. In 2012, MGK tweeted that Eminem's daughter Hailey was "hot as f*ck." The only problem was, at the time, MGK was 22 and she was 16. Oof.
MGK deleted the tweet and privately apologized to Em's management. However, he thinks Eminem held a grudge, and had him blackballed from Shade 45 station. So, he threw sneak-disses at Em in a few songs, which led to Em responding on Not Alike. Then Kells dropped the surprisingly good diss song Rap Devil, where he mocked Eminem's beard, sourpuss image, and age. ("The real Slim Shady can't stand up!") In response, Shady dropped the blistering Killshot, where he cleverly flipped all of MGK's disses. ("I’m 45 and I’m still out-selling you!")
Some critics gave Kamikaze rave reviews, praising the album as a riveting comeback. Others yawned, giving it an average rating, slamming the project as a musical misfire. Since Kamikaze sold over 430,000 copies in one week, entirely from word of mouth, it would seem those critics are disconnected from the public. Eminem's marketing team hilariously made fun of this by taking out a full-page magazine ad celebrating the negative reviews: "Thanks for the support, assholes!"
Maybe Eminem can celebrate this milestone by taking out another full-page ad. Or by smiling in photos. After all, he's the best-selling rapper of all time, and Kamikaze is one of the most successful rap albums of the year. Would it kill him to smile in a photo?