Eminem's "Kamikaze" Album: The Most Intricate Lyrical Moments

Don’t cut him short, Eminem never wavers off track, even when he kicks the acrobatics into high gear. Say what you will about the man himself, but on a technical level, Em is one of the best to ever do it. We’re talking internal rhyme schemes, double-time-triple time, rhymes within rhymes, inadvertent changes in tempo, invertebrate speech, half rhymes, tonal implementation, you name he’s done it.

There are many instances on Kamikaze in which Eminem displays his dazzling array of tricks. In no particular order I’ve selected the best of the best, starting with “Not Alike” featuring Royce Da 5’9, himself quite the technician. Tay Kaith’s impromptu beat switch calls for Eminem to deliver a more languid flow than he’d like, but in the bottom half of the 2nd verse a light sets off and Marshall goes berserk. The bolded part is delivered so rapidly you can only make out anything but a scribble sound.

“Invisible with the pen, I’m at the pinnacle of sick individuals
Stick my dick and put the tip in at minimal
I’m fuckin’ these syllables, I let them lick on my genitals
I’m a fucking invisible, indefensible, despicable, difficult prick
A little bit unpredictable, I spit the formidable
That you bitches are fuckin’ with the original.”

The introductory verse on “Fall” is good example of Eminem’s compression act. Eminem’s ability to create amorphous lines over a static metronome has always been his greatest asset. It allows him to add “exposition” at the end of each idea, which in turn makes his stories all more idiosyncratic or three-dimensional. The bolded parts are little add-ons that enliven the story without diverging into a tangent.

“Gotta concentrate, against the clock I race
Got no time to waste, I’m already late, I got a marathoner’s pace
Went from addict to a workaholic, word to Dr. Dre
In that first marijuana tape—guess I got a chronic case
And I ain’t just blowin’ smoke, ‘less it’s in your momma’s face
I know this time Paul and Dre, they won’t tell me what not to say.”

This three passages, among others on “Venom” are emblematic of Eminem’s “staccato” technique. What Em is essentially doing is puncturing his flow, which in turn allows him to literally create a standstill while the beat continues to build. The bolded parts clearly denote a well-intended stutter.

“This medicine’s screamin’, “L-l-l-let us in!”
L-l-lick like a salad bowl, Edgar Allan Poe.”

“Screw it, to hell with it, I went through hell with accelerants
And blew up my-my-myself again.”

Cocked, fuck around and catch a hot one
I-i-it’s evident I’m not done
V-venomous, the thought spun.”

“Normal” is exactly as the title suggests, but Eminem does something interesting here as well. The bolded word “evening” is essentially carved in two in order to create a rhyme scheme with the words “heave,” “naive,” and the newly formed conjunction “eve.” In literary terms, Eminem is creating enjambment wherever he wants across the text/record. I say “text” because in you case you haven’t noticed Eminem is inarguably a writer.

“And throw it up in her face ’til I dry heave
How could I be so naive?
Should I leave or turn this entire evening
Into a motherfucking crime scene?”

I’ll leave you the rest of the album’s for you to discover. Next time you listen to Kamikaze try using this technical framework. You might see Eminem under a different light, who knows?