Following the release of Eminem's surprise album, Kamikaze, which, according to Hits Daily Double, is currently on track to move a very respectable total of 290-330k equivalent album units in its opening week, fans and critics alike took to social media to share their (very different) initial impressions of the veteran emcee's ninth solo major label release.
In response to several overwhelmingly negative critical reviews, including one by our very own Yoh Phillips, former Shady artist Crooked I took to Twitter on Friday evening to share his thoughts on Kamikaze, as well as the way the project was initially received by several members of the hip-hop media.
Rather than respond on Twitter, limiting our back-and-forth to 280-character bursts, I reached out to Crooked I privately, inquiring if he would be interested in expanding on the position he took in the above thread of tweets.
I wanted to know why he believed the initial takes on Kamikaze missed the mark.
Several hours later, I received a message from Crook, which included the following response. With his permission, we are publishing his thoughts in full.
Give me a DJ, an emcee, and a crowd. That's it.
As the DJ is spinning break beats, the emcee is saying the most incredible rhymes the crowd has ever heard. That's the essence. That's what needs to be protected at all costs. It's as important as the vibe, the impact, the sales.
A kid who is falling in love with the art of rapping has to know that clever punchlines are good but finding a way to put those lines in rhyme patterns that locate brilliant pockets in the beat is golden. This is what we have to protect and preserve in this ever-changing environment.
Rap has been under attack from musicians in other genres since its birth. Now people within its own community are attacking quality rap just like the outsiders do and have done.
Why is it so unpopular to be a master wordsmith?
Rap songs are able to express hundreds of ideas in three minutes. No other form of music can achieve this. Expressing these ideas through complex rhyming that includes metaphors, different cadences, punchlines, double entendre usage and rhythm always deserves the highest praise. The next generation has to know this. Just like they know a catchy repetitive hook may attract mass appeal.
Although I enjoy countless simple rap songs, I will never remove Jedi-level rhyming off of its pedestal. If I'm reviewing an album and I only focus on the genius elements of the emcee’s technique for two sentences, I have failed. The emcee is owed more than that. It's extremely difficult to construct verbal pyramids consistently throughout a project.
Even more difficult to do in a climate where it's not appreciated.
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