Rapper Eminem left fans and spectators stunned last Friday upon the surprise release of his new album "Kamikaze."
"Kamikaze" sparked a heated debate among rap fans and music experts as to whether or not the album should be deemed successful, and continues to perpetuate the controversial legacy of Eminem.
Most social media posts and news coverage of the album deem "Kamikaze" a flop. Music experts declare the album cannot compete in today’s heavily rap-saturated market with popular artists Cardi B, Migos, Drake and Tyga taking over the rap charts.
Music fans have also criticized "Kamikaze’s" sound and lyrics. I agree with the popular belief that half of the album’s sound is stuck in Eminem’s glory days while not meeting the caliber of his previous lyrics. While the more progressive songs, in terms of sound, are too annoying to listen to more than once.
It is no surprise Eminem heavily criticizes the music industry, using lewd language and calling out young rappers to release angst. He has always pushed the limits in terms of vulgarity, and frankly, I was disappointed with this album’s verses. It appeared as if he was grappling for originality and creativity. Maybe he just missed the mark.
On the other side of the spectrum, many fans are raving about "Kamikaze." LeBron James tweeted his praise for the album the morning of its release. The numbers also speak high praise of "Kamikaze." The album is predicted to have record sales in its first week. However, why is everybody buying it if no one seems to like it? The answer is all in the way the album was released.
The release of "Kamikaze" took the industry by surprise, which was incredibly tactful of Eminem’s marketing team. Since there was not any publicity, there was no time for fans to dis it and write it off. Eminem is aware of his age and how he is older than many artists dominating today’s rap game. Instead of running a heavy and expensive advertising campaign, he joined the trend and released the album without any foreshadowing.
From there, curiosity took over. No one knew what to expect from "Kamikaze," so everyone took to listening to it. While this tactic was clever, it relies on the weight of the album. If the album is bad, rumor spreads and no one wants to listen to it. If the album is good or controversial, everyone wants to hear it. Eminem has the album’s surprise release to thank for a good percentage of its success.
Whether or not the album should be deemed successful is still unknown. While "Kamikaze" dominates the charts on Spotify, iTunes and other music sharing cites, most of the internet still collectively hates it. While Eminem is trying to remain relevant, I am over him. Like many kids of the late 90’s, I went through an Eminem phase in middle school and am not trying relive it.
Needless to say, if you are loving Eminem’s latest tracks, do not let me discourage you from listening. I will spend my time jamming to the best rap of the season, and I am sorry, but "Kamikaze" is not it.