Even during Eminem’s recent musical slump — to which Kamikaze, his surprise new album dropped last week, is basically a fiery response — he’s retained his signature lyrical dominance, from the breakneck pace (and his manipulations of it) to the slippery-smooth rhymes.
His reoccurring problem, at least since his split from Dr. Dre, has been his beats. Though his latter-day overproducing has worked on occasion — namely, on 2010’s pop-infused Recovery — too often the actual music gets in the way of his words.
On Kamikaze, he finally gets out of his own way again. Which isn’t to imply its producing is simple accompaniment, much like how Dre’s minimalist G-funk was always much more complex than it initially sounded. Rather — to borrow the title’s aerospace motif — it’s a perfect complement, a freshly-paved, brand-spanking new, 21st century Dre-esque airstrip just waiting for Eminem to take off, allowing us all to, finally, once again, compliment Marshall Mathers’ lyrical mastery.
Well…at least for those of us who believe he’s a perpetual performance artist. Though his legions of followers may confuse his artifice for authenticity — a dangerous possibility since his constructed persona dabbles ~ nay ~ revels in dangerous stereotypes — artists should never be faulted for their art being misunderstood, and thus mis-appropriated for other purposes.
As for unpacking Kamikaze‘s politics — for instance, how his jabs at the media intersect with his derisive treatises on Agent Orange (his Russian-tinged nickname for Trump) — I shall reserve judgement until further re-listens.