From rapid-fire flows to a disappointing homophobic slur
Eminem surprised fans on Friday with a new album, Kamikaze. One thing that probably won’t surprise listeners, though, is the lyrical content, which contains the same intricate rhyme schemes, rapid-fire flow, and violent innuendo that’s been a staple of Eminem’s discography.
EW rounded up 10 of the most classically Slim Shady-esque lines on the record, which comes less than a year after his last LP, the chart-topping, critically reviled Revival.
“Maybe the vocals should have been auto-tuned / And you would have bought it / But sayin’ I no longer got it / ‘Cause you missed the line and never caught it / ‘Cause it went over your head, because you’re too stupid to get it / ‘Cause you’re mentally retarded, but pretend to be the smartest” (“The Ringer”)
Eminem is cranky from the get-go. On opening track “The Ringer,” he’s mad that fans and critics are embracing a new generation of colorful rappers with an unorthodox approach to the form (see: “Get this f——‘ audio out my Audi, yo, adiós/ I can see why people like Lil Yachty, but not me though”) while maligning his 2017 record Revival. With fast flows and inventive rhymes — and his need to express rage using outdated words like “retarded” — Eminem is once again looking to put his stamp on rap today.
“But last week, an ex-fan mailed me a copy / Of The Mathers LP to tell me to study / It’ll help me get back to myself and she’ll love me (ooh-ooh) / I mailed the b—- back and said if I did that / I’d just be like everyone else in the f—— industry / Especially an effing Recovery clone of me” (“The Ringer”)
These lyrics invoke Eminem’s critically acclaimed 2000 album The Marshall Mathers EP, and its two most famous tracks: “Stan,” about a crazed Eminem devotee, and “The Real Slim Shady,” about Em’s effect on the masses. To this day, Eminem is still wrestling with what fans expect of him, and trying to distinguish himself from his many imitators.
“But nothin’ is stealing like anyone has any f—– ability / To even stick to a subject, it’s killin’ me, the inability to pin humility / Hatata batata, why don’t we make a bunch of f—– / Songs about nothin’ and mumble!” (“Lucky You”)
From the beginning, Eminem has defined himself both by his complex storytelling and his technical abilities. Neither of those are common in today’s hip-hop scene, so Eminem uses both to elucidate his dissatisfaction with the current zeitgeist.
“I swear to God this mother—— lives in Michigan and I think I figured out his address, And I’m on my way to his f—– house right now” (“Em Calls Paul”)
Not exactly a bar, but this line of dialogue from the album’s second Paul skit is as classic Eminem as you could get. Every album contains these conversations between the rapper and his manager, of course, but this one is doubly characteristic for both Eminem’s rage that his last album wasn’t reviewed highly enough, and his fantasies of inflicting violence on his critics.
“Somebody tell Budden before I snap / He better fasten it / Or have his body bag get zipped / The closest thing he’s had to hits / Since smacking bitches.”
There’s been beef brewing between Eminem and Shady Records signee Joe Budden for some time now, coming to a head late last year when Budden called “Untouchable” off Revival one of the worst records he’s ever heard. Now it’s Em’s turn to strike back, as he references domestic abuse charges against Budden (the charges were dismissed in 2016).
“Tyler create nothin’, I see why you called yourself a f****t, bitch / It’s not just ’cause you lack attention / It’s ’cause you worship D12’s balls, you’re sack-religious / If you’re gonna critique me, you better at least be as good or better” (“Fall”)
Sigh. This lyric became one of the most-discussed in the hours after Kamikaze’s release. Hip-hop has often been antagonistic toward homosexuality, not least because of Eminem’s own prolific use of slurs throughout his career. Though times have changed — Justin Vernon, who provides vocals on the song, denounced this song’s use of the F-word immediately after it dropped — Eminem hasn’t. So why pull out this slur against Tyler, the Creator, who has called Eminem’s 2009 album Relapse one of his favorite records of all time and came out as bisexual on his 2017 album Flower Boy? Because Tyler had the nerve to criticize a song from Revival.
“Ain’t no telling when this chokehold / On this game will end, I’m loco / Became a symbiote, so / My fangs are in your throat, ho” (“Venom”)
There had been rumors that Eminem was doing music for Tom Hardy’s upcoming Venom film — and what could be more perfect? EW’s Darren Franich once described the Venom character as “the internet with teeth,” — but that could apply just as well to Eminem, whose rage-fueled raps feel more suited to the current angry internet than ever.