Review Summary: Licensed to Nil
It’s hard not to notice the increasing prevalence of mumble-hating woke rap coming out lately. A reaction to the popularity of pop-trap artists with slurred flows and hazy beats, everyone from Denzel Curry to J. Cole have all been taking pot shots at the current rap freshmen. In this fray is a washed out white man named Marshall Mathers, who very obviously feels victimized due to his last album’s almost unanimous negative reception and his shrinking spotlight, taken over by fresh faces. Old Man Mathers’ plight is understandable, but I find myself unable to sympathize with the ivory tower rap sensation that makes dead serious “suck my dick” statements to the ones he doesn’t like.
Even isolating my pre-existing hatred of all things Eminem, Kamikaze
is the audio equivalent of second hand embarrassment. Eminem’s age and weak grasp on the world around him feels like like I’m listening to my father rant about how horrible music is nowadays as if his era was a beautiful cavalcade of quality. After all, how could you disagree when rappers are delivering bars like:
“Young Thug poster, unplugged toaster,” “Like my monthly bill from Sprint, they chargin' me for a selfie,” “Tyler create nothin', I see why you called yourself a f*gg*t, bitch,” and " I feel like I wanna punch the world in the fuckin' face right now.”
No, wait, those are all from this album, aren’t they❓
In reality, Eminem is either incredibly out of touch or attempting to shift the focus from Revival
to the rest of rap, playing to the “out of touch white teens who think hating trap gives them a personality” part of his fanbase. Although, it is funny that he spends all of “The Ringer” and “Fall” shitting on biters and untalented hacks when this whole album adopts the triplet flow others pioneered and features a whole line-up of low rate, cymbal heavy trap beats. After all, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention “Not Alike,” as the production is pretty much a bootleg version of BlocBoy JB and Drake’s “Look Alive,” or “Lucky You,” where he enlists fellow big brain rapper Joyner Lucas - famous for the lackluster “I’m Not Racist” and an incredibly horrible reworking of “Gucci Gang” - to recreate a dark trap song a la Denzel Curry or Danny Brown, a type of song that makes Em feel like he’s wearing someone else's clothes. I'm aware that such emulation could be a satirical choice of sorts, but the serious themes and motifs here lend very little to the idea that a mocking flow would fit very well.
Outside of the flaws that are relatively new for the Slimster, a lot of this album is par for the course. Insufferable dick jokes❓ Check. The obligatory “deep” song that his fans can cry to❓ Yep. Half-assed attempts to balance humor and serious points❓ You fuckin' know it, that’s this dude’s hallmark. But, because of his attempts to contextualize his anger and give his viewpoint nuance, he, as always, misses the mark and makes himself look ignorant to the world around him. I mean, yeah, the current president does suck and, yeah, there are some less than satisfactory songs on the rap stations (funny enough, you claimed to inspire trash like Logic and J. Cole), but, God in Heaven, the last person I want telling me this is Marshall Mathers, especially when it’s a 45 minute long album that sounds like he’s about to burst into tears the whole time.
Next time you pay homage to the Beastie Boys, make a good album.