Eminem’s latest album, Kamikaze was released last week to much surprise and not a small amount of vitriolic criticism – not least for the allegations that Em threw out some homophobic slurs on the record.
That said, Eminem pushing the bounds of decency and acceptability is nothing new, but what is interesting is how he has opted to go in and address the media and his own waning career.
Sure, he didn’t get the love he deserved for his last full-length release, Revival, but it seems that Em is loathe to blame himself.
The Detroit MC instead takes aim at journalists who didn’t rate his last album highly enough ( “A journalist/ can get a mouthful of flesh/ and yes, I mean eating a penis/ ‘Cause they been pannin’ my album to death” – The Ringer), as well as sniping at hip-hop’s new landscape of autotune, ghost-writers and names like Lil Pump, Lil Yachty and Drake.
Now Eminem has a point in many ways as, let’s not get it wrong, there has been a marked decline in lyricism and originality in hip-hop. However, at the same time Eminem, rather than using his undeniable skills to reset the balance, just comes across as being out of touch.
Of course, there is an angle that says Eminem has succeeded in getting his name back out in the streets as he calls out names, much like 50 Cent has his entire career. But where 50 can be wry with his comments, Em comes across as vindictive.
Perhaps, it was always going to be the case for Eminem that, with a career launched on the back of being a f*cked-up kid, the shock factor would eventually wear thin (after his 3rd album?).
That said, all is not lost for Eminem, who clearly still possesses incredible lyrical ability, as shown on the more self-reflective Stepping Stone (“One minute you’re bodyin’ shit, but then your audience splits/ You can already sense the climate is startin’ to shift / To these kids you no longer exist.”).
Maybe, it’s time for Eminem to grow and present a new version of himself through his music. It’s tough when you have an image and expectations from fans and 20 years is by no means a bad career in music. However, those artists who stand the test of time manage to adapt to trends and times, while still maintaining their core styles.
By all means, call out things you don’t like in the game, but recognize that it’s not ’98 anymore and things ‘done’ changed…
One of the artists Eminem dissed is former Slaughter House (who were signed under Eminem’s imprint) member turned Podcaster, Joe Budden. See what Budden’s had to say below to his former ‘boss.’