Thought I would do another one of these because the forum is dead atm.
So all the negative reviews of Revival and even some of the negative reviews of the Revival Tour had made it a bad time being an Eminem fan. Chloraseptic – Remix, Caterpillar and Majesty all dropped and my hype was real over each verse but I was still doubtful. This had happened before. Just when you think everything’s going well for Em, he somehow manages to fuck it up with making a terrible choice. But needless to say, I didn’t expect anything from 2018.
I remember being in Bali when this album dropped – me and my girlfriend had just come back from a day excursion and were chilling by the hotel pool and she says to me ‘I think Eminem is doing a song for Venom.’ She showed me the Instagram video and I heard the snippet and I was like ‘oh shit, that sounds alright.’ So there’s a brief pause between us. Then she goes ‘okay…I’m ngl…I think he’s just released an album.’ And I obviously didn’t believe her, but she showed me the whole ‘tried not to overthink this one’ post and I remember just being in shock. So, like the legend she is, we went back to the hotel room and she listened to the album with me. I don’t actually remember hearing any of the songs for the first time, but I do remember being on the floor with my mouth open, just thinking ‘what the fuck is going on?' But obviously now, 7 months on I have had time to process my initial buzz and natural dick-riding of the album to give a hopefully fair and unbiased review.
1. The Ringer 9/10
Now, for me, this song is amazing. The flows are crazy, the calling out of the rap game is just like ‘fuck yes’ (very surprised he went at Vince Staples if I am honest). Despite the fact it goes on for 6 minutes, it’s so entertaining how he keeps the momentum going with each flow-change – I don’t know many rappers I could actually listen to just spaz off for 6 minutes straight without like a single chorus break. The whole Trump diss was just so much more effective here than it ever has been. Special mention to the: ‘finger-bang/chicken-wang’ part – that bit is so good. There’s so much that works about this song and the more you listen, the better it gets. It’s just a really solid and entertaining 6 minutes and gets the ball well and truly rolling. Exactly what we needed from Em.
2. Greatest 8/10
Absolute banger. Really did not expect Mike-Will Made It and Em to mesh to be honest, but the results are in and Mike-Will clearly gets Em’s style. Would like to see these two collaborate more. Some of Em’s flows are insane here i.e ‘tryna get away from the anger and rage’ part and he has some genuinely laugh out loud moments i.e the Die Antwoord diss and the ‘Revival didn’t go viral.’ It’s that sort of self-deprecating Shady humour that works very well. One or two very bad lines in here ‘call it a nostril cos it’S-NOT’ (yikes) and the chorus isn’t exactly a masterpiece, but I do actually think he pulls it off and it ends up working quite well. A very entertaining and solid track
3. Lucky You 10/10
In my opinion, this is the best song on the album. This proves Em can keep up with the genre, whilst also dissing it. Funnily enough, I had just got into Joyner over the summer so when he appeared, I was gassed af. I think this is the sort of thing we’ve wanted from Em for a while and perhaps what we expected when we saw Kendrick on the MMLP2 tracklist. Joyner goes off on this track. I am so glad Em recognises this guy because the pair of them have great chemistry on the track. Em bodies this track though, but what’s weird is that here, as opposed to other songs, he sounds a lot more effortless. He sounds so laid back on this track and the fast parts don’t sound like he’s forcing speed or cramming syllables. He just weaves so effortlessly in between these smooth flows and neat rhyme structures. I feel he’s been crafting this sort of flow for a while now with some pretty mixed results (examples where it’s worked: Medicine Man, Best Friend; examples where it’s gone disastrously: Twerk Dat Pop That, Right For Me). Here, it 100% works. I get people don’t want the miracle lyrical Em and I get that. I don’t think we will ever get a verse with the same rawness or intensity as ‘Patiently Waiting’ ‘Run Rabbit Run’ or ‘The Way I Am’ again but that’s okay with me. He’s sacrificed that intensity for technical prowess which, when it works, sounds like an orgasm to the ears. But I digress - fuck, the Grammy snub, that’s not important – the fact is this song slaps and it’s brilliant
4. Paul – Skit
Can’t tell you how happy I was to hear one of these again. NOT ONE SINCE 2009 FFS!
5. Normal 7/10
So…controversial time. I actually think this song is really entertaining. A very different but surprisingly very nice flow from Em here. I remember listening to this for the first time and being a bit taken aback. Obviously, the subject matter isn’t anything amazing, but the both beats are nasty (especially the second one) and the song is self-deprecating enough for you to get the hint you aren’t supposed to take it too seriously e.g ‘maybe I’m just too ugly to compete with him, you weren’t supposed to agree’ and ‘let’s sleep on it, like they did Revival.’ A very easy to listen to song and a nice one to just chill and drive along to. I wouldn’t mind hearing a couple more songs like this from Em.
6. Em Calls Paul – Skit
Meant to show how pissed off Em is, but I personally remember thinking this sounded a bit over the top and a bit forced. Still a nice little touch to keep the album’s theme going
7. Stepping Stone 7/10
It’s a bit of a dark horse on here i.e you can tell this was produced by Em and Luis Resto and might have been better on Revival (could have improved it as well), but I really like this song. That first verse sounds straight out of 2002 era Em. The rhyme schemes and everything just sound like prime Em (I think that was meant to be the point). The ‘I don’t know how to recapture that time and era’ part is intense af. Some really nice rhyme schemes on here. One thing you can’t fault about Em on this album is that, for the most part, he's managing to incorporate dense rhyme schemes without going off topic like he did on Revival. Nice performance from Em on the hook as well – the sample wasn’t mixed in that well, but it’s not featured prominently enough for it to ruin the song
8. Not Alike 9/10
So, I have rated this very highly. A lot of where people will dislike this song is the chorus. It’s not great, but to me, the chorus is meant to be sarcastic and not meant to be taken seriously, which is why I find it quite funny, because I see this as him mocking the Bad and Boujee chorus. I feel he tried to do this sort of sarcastic, comedic chorus on Offended as well, except I wasn’t quite sure about whether I fully got the joke on Offended whereas here, I do, which is why it doesn’t ruin the song for me and makes it quite funny. But I can understand why people would disagree. Royce comes in with the sort of heat you expect from Royce by now e.g ‘We cannot give a fuck, shit, a fuckin' colonic/Sellin' your cock and your butt for a follower/Possible couple of dollars, you powder sniff/Now you slippin', call it a power trip, a product of politics/Y'all went from profit and toppin' the charts/To dropped in the park in a pile of shit/Knowledge is power, but powerless/If you've got it and you do not acknowledge it.’ The man had a great 2018 and his album was so underrated. But, unfortunately, Eminem is the stand out on this track by a mile, in my opinion. I think the beat switch helped majorly get Em’s momentum going, because I do feel he has a rocky start but damn, when that beat switch drops, he just fucking goes off with maybe one of the most mind-blowing performances I have heard on a rap song. It’s like I am nodding along and going crazy over the Machine Gun Kelly disses, thinking it can’t get any better than this then the ‘sold Dre my soul’ part comes in and my mouth drops open and I involuntarily sit back just listening to how the fuck he rhymes ‘old lederhosen’ with ‘home-made explosions’ in that ridiculously smooth flow. Then the final ‘indefensible, despicable’ part comes in and my head just can’t comprehend it. As I said, there are problems with new Eminem and this verse is not perfect. There are moments when his obsession with rhyming takes over like ‘jarred like strawberry or pineapple’ or the ‘Young Thug poster, unplugged toaster’ part. But come on……who else in the game can spit a verse like you’ve just listened to? Even if it’s not perfect, it’s eons ahead of what I have heard any other rapper do at their best and maybe that’s the problem: maybe it’s TOO technically impressive and maybe a good verse in the rap game isn’t about proving you can do something no one else can even come close to reaching. But even if this isn’t something you entirely get down with, I don’t see how people can dispute that this is a rapper who has basically got all of rap's Infinity Stones and it’s probably easier for him to shit out an 11 minute freestyle with about 30 different flows whilst rhyming everything with 'orange' than something more toned down and layered like Stepping Stone. Maybe that’s the problem with Em nowadays
9. Kamikaze 6.5/10
Again, another really entertaining Shady-esque song. It’s not my favourite and I think the chorus is a tad lazy, even if it is quite funny i.e calling Revival Fack 2017. The first verse is tight. The second verse isn’t my favourite and I felt the flow went a bit off near the end. The third verse is easily the best part of this song. The beat-switch is insane once again and he goes off with some classic Shady vibes. So, all in all, I think the song is a bit lazily written on Em’s part, but as I said, a very entertaining listen with Em just spitting and sounds like he’s having fun just being the bad guy again
10. Fall 8.5/10
Okay, so I fucking love this song. I think Em’s flow on this is just so clean and he rides the beat so well. That second verse blew me away the first time I heard it. I just love hearing Em saying crazy shit that he shouldn’t do and the fact he’s dissing Budden, the Grammy’s, Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt etc. is just like ‘yes, yes, yes.’ Even if he shouldn’t have said the f word, all the controversy that came with it was just music to my ears. Em gets some fantastic lines in here i.e the ‘Hunger Games, Mockingjay’ part and the ‘fuck pitchfork with a corkscrew’ and most of the disses are ruthless, unhinged and with that savagery I want from Em. That whole ‘back the fuck up and don’t mess with me’ persona is so satisfying to hear after all this time of years of people disputing his legacy. Some of the disses are quite weak on here like the Charlamagne one and the Lord Jamar one, but then the final 8 lines are just the biggest slap to the face ever to anyone who criticises him. Justin Vernon was alright on this song and I guess provided some atmosphere but it’s Em and Mike-Will who have the best chemistry on this track
11. Nice Guy 4/10
This is the weakest song on the album for me. Some people like this song because it’s a bit of a dark horse with Em’s usual sort of work, but it just doesn’t work for me. I find Jessie Reyez’s chorus annoying; her verses are decent. The whole ‘suck my dick’ thing might have worked better as a diss towards critics rather than another relationship song. Maybe Em and Jessie were just fucking around on this track, but it feels like a bit of a re-run of Normal albeit with lesser success. I’ve listened to this song like twice
12. Good Guy 6/10
I don’t want to like this song, but I do. I just can’t help it. That sample is just so infectious and Em’s verse is just so smooth. The listen is just so easy on the ears that you can’t escape its rhythm. A seriously nice flow from Em here. Again, why with the same abusive relationship subject matter though? It’s not needed on an album directed towards firing back at critics. The album could have done without Stepping Stone, Nice Guy and Good Guy and they should have been on Revival that was not attempting to be quite as short and to the point Kamikaze was. Jessie Reyez has a better performance on this, but if I listen to this song through speakers, her high notes are so piercing and horrible. I seem to only be able to listen to her voice through headphones. Not sure why
13. Venom 6.5/10
Another unnecessary track that I don’t want to like, but if this song didn’t have you involuntarily going ‘Venoommmmm’ for the week after you heard it, there’s something wrong with you. It’s got no place on this album apart from the line ‘Slim be a combination of an actual Kamikaze.’ Em has a very entertaining performance on this with some clever lines and some not so clever lines, and the chorus is one of the effective he’s done in a while. It’s a simple tongue twister i.e Venoommm, got that adrenaline in ‘em’ that you can’t actually sing along to in one go but it gets rooted into your brain, nonetheless. The beat is kind of the standard Em and Luis Resto production you can expect by now, but you know as a movie villain’s theme, it’s a bit of a banger. It’s nothing amazing, nothing ground-breaking, but Em sounds like he’s having the time of his life recording this and it’s got a lot of replay value as a single. I would much rather Em do singles like this over River, or The Monster.
Overall, I think this is a very solid album from Em and definitely over the above-average line when it comes to Em’s albums. I don’t know exactly where to place this as I find it as entertaining as Relapse and MMLP2 (maybe even more so due to its short length) but not as fleshed out or as well executed. It’s perhaps one of his most essential releases that won him back the respect of the rap game after the almost career-tarnishing Revival, but it puts him in a tricky position as to where to go from here. I got the impression Revival was intended to put Em in a position where he could have made that his last album if he wanted to, but obviously we saw how that played out which necessitated Kamikaze. I don’t really know where Kamikaze puts Em now after he’s essentially gone back to being a controversial figure that has a really well-received and massive diss track as his last solo release.