Eminem’s new album, the surprise release Kamikaze, is bad. This has been the case for every album he’s released for around 15 years, depending on how generous you want to be to 2002's The Eminem Show, a long artistic stagnancy that Eminem seems keenly aware of. Kamikaze, like so many other Eminem albums, functions as an apology to fans for its direct predecessor, a virulent response to the negative critical response to that record, and an almost identical recreation of it. All of the exact things that generated criticisms of his previous five records recur on Kamikaze. The asinine assonance, rappity-rap growling, cringe-worthy celebrity beefs, outdated understanding of modern hip-hop, unvarnished homophobia and misogyny—it’s all here!
But you have to mark it as a success in at least one metric: Rather than loading the tracklist with mawkish ballads, it’s filled with shit-talk, resulting in a wave of new, bad rap beefs with other rappers, like some sort of foul, man-made tempest of shit. On Kamikaze, Em takes aim at a whole host of major figures—Drake, Kanye, Earl Sweatshirt, Migos, Tyler, The Creator, Vince Staples, and more—all of whom have shrugged the whole thing off without much sweat, because, who gives a shit, it’s an Eminem album in 2018. But you know who’s not letting this shit go unchallenged? That’s right: Cleveland’s own Machine Gun Kelly.
The two have had beef since 2012, when Kelly tweeted something about Eminem’s daughter being hot, adding, “In the most respectful way possible cuz Em is king.” The king did not take kindly to that, allegedly barring Kelly from being played on his Shade 45 channel on Sirius XM. On the Kamikaze track “Not Alike,” Eminem gets more explicit, saying, “But next time you don’t gotta use Tech N9ne if you wanna come at me with a sub-machine gun / And I’m talking to you but you already know who the fuck you are, Kelly / I don’t use sublims and sure as fuck don’t sneak-diss / But keep commenting on my daughter Hailie.”
Kelly has responded with an entire diss track of his own, entitled “Rap Devil,” which you can withstand above. It’s nearly five minutes of slap-fighting about who did what to whom, and includes such disses as “Fuckin’ dweeb, all you do is read the dictionary and stay inside,” and “You were named after a candy, I was named after a gangster.” Kelly also calls Eminem “Ebenezer Scrooge” and “Oscar The Grouch.” “The Story Of Adidon” it is not.
Meanwhile, on “Greatest,” Em goes after South African duo Die Antwoord, best known for their 2008 video “Enter The Ninja” and also playing themselves(?) in 2015's Chappie. Eminem mispronounced their name on last year’s bad record, leading to some joking videos from the group, which apparently made Eminem very mad, here rapping: “Fuck, I still can’t say this shit, but how quickly they forget who the fuck I was / Now Ninja try to duck my slugs / To let ya girl get fucked by Muggs,” referencing DJ Muggs, the long-time Cypress Hill producer who has dated Die Antwoord’s Yolandi Visser.
Folks: Die Antwoord has responded.
This fares much better than the Machine Gun Kelly track, if only because they manage to wind things into a shout-out to their Chappie collaborator Neill Blomkamp: “I heard Neill Blomkamp is remaking Robocop / Yo, watch a South African put that cool shit from Detroit back on the map again.” Die Antwoord rapper Ninja also sort of laughs off the DJ Muggs stuff, but still, the duo would probably be better served by just trying to get in on that Robocop remake than releasing YouTube videos about famous bad rapper Eminem.
There are a lot of other beefs minor and major throughout the record, like this confusing diss toward millennial love-rap growler Ja Rule: “I hear you talking shit, I’m just too big to respond to it / God forbid I forget, go and jump out the window / Somebody better child-proof it / ‘Cause if I lose it we can rewind to some old Ja Rule shit.” All of which gives us an excuse to check out Ja Rule’s Twitter in the year of our lord 2018:
Still, with apologies to Joe Budden, the best rejoinder to to Kamikaze came from comedian Chris D’Elia:
We’ll see you next year, when Eminem rips Nelly a new asshole or something.