Media Partners | Contributors | Advertise | Contact | Log in | Wednesday 1 February 2023

The backlash from Eminem's 'Kamikaze' was unwarranted


Share This Article:

Eminem’s latest album Kamikaze is rife with controversial moments. From choice words for media journalists who negatively covered his last album Revival, contemporary hip-hop artists and their fans, to Trump and Pence. The major controversy of the album, however, comes from the track ‘Fall’ and his comments towards Tyler, the Creator.

Bon Iver and Eminem is a strange collaboration just on the face of it: two very different artistic styles with little overlap in sound. Once the track begins and Eminem starts going off with his verses, it becomes even stranger. Eminem responds to Joe Budden (former member of rap group Slaughterhouse and signee to Eminem’s label Shady Records) for Budden’s comments on ‘Revival’. He goes as low as to say “the closest thing he’s had to hits is smacking bi*****”, referencing Budden’s domestic abuse charges earlier in his career. It certainly makes for an awkward listen, considering the legal severity of that situation...

The biggest controversy, however, came when Eminem supposedly called Tyler, the Creator a “fa****”. Media outlets have been running away with this line without really considering the nuances behind it; a tactic that Eminem had complained about earlier on in the album. So, let’s consider the nuances here. It should be noted that Eminem has not responded to the backlash yet, and most likely never will, so the task of analysis falls on us as listeners to judge for ourselves.

Firstly, and most importantly, Eminem does not call Tyler the slur directly. His angle is that Tyler has exploited the use of the word as a means of striking up controversy, and to sell albums. Anyone paying attention to the rollout for Tyler’s latest album Flower Boy would have picked up on the rumours flying around surrounding this matter, so Eminem’s allegation is not that outlandish. 

Let me make something clear; it is never okay to use that word against someone in a derogatory manner. However, let us not forget that Tyler, the Creator has frequently thrown around the same slur numerous times like on ‘Domo 23’, ‘Answer’ and ‘Tamale’ on his album Wolf. We don't know Tyler's reaction to Eminem's track... So, why are we getting offended on his behalf?

This leads on to the next point: Justin Vernon, also known as Bon Iver. Vernon took to Twitter to try to disassociate himself from this song that he sings the hook on, particularly because of the sentiment Eminem holds towards Tyler, and newer acts in general.

He says that he laid down the hook whilst recording in a studio session with producer Mike Will Made It, and was not present when Eminem rapped over the beat with his hook on it. If we were to take that to be true, then what that means is that somebody who is as experienced in the music industry as Vernon is, somebody as high calibre as he is, is just laying down vocals randomly over beats and allowing the producers to have all creative control over his artistic work with no further input. He is just letting somebody else do whatever the hell they want with his talent, with his brand, even.

If that sounds ridiculous it’s because it is ridiculous: there is no way somebody who has been around as long as Vernon has, is making such naive rookie errors. Vernon is trying to make himself remain as the good guy in this scenario because he got scared of the backlash that was to come, and it is so easy to see through that PR façade that it is laughable. And if it is the case that Vernon did just loosely drop a hook, then it is his own fault that he has ended up in this predicament.

Since the backlash escalated, Vernon has since tweeted that they should "kill" the track.

The backlash that Eminem is getting reflects upon how incredibly over-sensitive the culture of today is. The response to him saying the derogatory term towards Tyler should not have been along the lines of ‘washed up rapper uses outdated slurs to sell albums’, since this is Eminem we are talking about and he does not need this kind of controversy to sell an album: his album went to number one immediately on the iTunes charts, and 6 of the top 10 singles right now are songs off his album. What the response should have been is more along the lines of ‘Eminem responds to Tyler’s criticism with a weak bar’, because that is all that it was: a weak bar, which he then followed up with something wittier with the wordplay on “sacrilegious” or “sack-religious”- crude yet witty, classic Shady.

Ultimately, this is hip-hop and this is art, specifically Eminem’s art; brash, direct and abrasive. The theme of the album is Eminem responding to people who trash talked his last album, and Tyler falls into that group. So, Eminem loosely making a stray, stupid joke referencing Tyler’s sexuality should not be taken to be as serious or as controversial as it has been, especially considering that Tyler himself is not exactly shy of the term being used.

Articles: 29
Reads: 197255
© 2023 is a website of Studee Limited | 15 The Woolmarket, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 2PR, UK | registered in England No 6842641 VAT # 971692974