Eminem Says He's Happy When He's Angry, Which...Makes Sense

The 'Kamikaze' rapper is airing out his grievances in an interview with Sway Calloway.
Queens, US
September 13, 2018, 4:10pm
Screenshot from Sway Interview

Last month Eminem released Kamikaze, a surprise album that took aim at just about 90% of your music library. His disdain for music's current climate was painfully obvious. On the album's opener, he says "he wants to punch the world in the fucking face right now," which is a toned-down insult coming from a rapper who used boasting about necrophilia, but a telling one nonetheless. He's angry, which isn't new, necessarily, but over the last couple of days in a series of interviews with Sway Calloway, he's made it clear that he kinda likes it that way. "There is something inside me that is like I’m a little more happy when I’m angry… There’s a rush that inspires me to say something back," he tells Sway. Eminem wouldn't be Eminem if he just got along with everyone, right?

Kamikaze is centered heavily around the negative criticism about Eminem's last album, Revival. In part one of the interview, Em continues his airing of grievances about that record's reception. He says the pressure to live up to expectations around the anticipation of a release date lead to Kamikaze's impromptu release. “When the Revival tracklist came down the pipe, it was just like overwhelmingly, 'This shit is going to be trash,'" he told Sway. The Detroit rapper wasn't afraid to admit he's put out some bad albums and says listening to Encore still makes him cringe. But for him, the criticism was far from constructive. "You’ve got people who don’t do anything, who are just critiquing it. So I sat back and said, OK that’s fine. People can talk crazy about me. They should express themselves and they have a right to. But, I also get to say whatever the fuck I want about you now."

Considering all the backlash he referenced in part one, he was ready to share his too. "That’s kind of the attitude I took with this last album, Kamikaze, what if I gave everybody my opinion about them?" On "Fall," he called out basically every relevant rapper by name, which kinda made it feel like he doesn't have any clear foes. It's clear that he feeds on that energy on some level, just seething ambient hate and a general sense that he's better than everyone else—which if that's what you need for creative fuel…go ahead I guess? However, in the weeks since it's clear that he harbors a special kind of animosity for a couple of specific rappers: Joe Budden and Machine Gun Kelly.

In part two, released today, he clears the air on his issues with both rappers. Sway says that Budden recently alluded that he'd never seen any money after his partnership with Eminem for Slaughterhouse, a claim that Eminem doesn't seem to know about. "The album didn’t do much to recoup the first budget. What money didn’t you get?" he asked. "I’ve never got in a fucking interview and been like that Joe Budden shit is fucking trash. "He still attests that regardless of what transpired between the two of them, he wanted to see Slaughterhouse succeed. He was, however, less forgiving in the description of his relationship with MGK, who alleged Eminem was trying to thwart his career. Em denies that and says he only took notice of him after MGK made some ill-fitting comments toward his daughter, Haley. "I want to destroy him. But, I also don’t want to make him bigger.” When Sway asks how he felt about MGK's diss track, Em says it was on his radar. “I heard it. It’s not bad for him. He had some good lines, for him.”

If Eminem being angry makes him happy, I'm here for it. Plenty of great art comes from irrational rage (just check out our coworker Dan's column about hardcore!) But, Kamikaze isn't exactly the focused anger he's proven himself capable of. One of the problems of longevity is that you can get sucked into using the same techniques with less clear goals—and the anger that bolstered a bleach blonde kid from Detroit might no longer be workable for a 45-year-old living in a more socially aware America in 2018. The same Slim Shady who was ranting about Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera cannot just throw slurs at pop stars and expect to come away unscathed. Keep that energy though Em, fortunately, there's always something to be mad about.

Kristin Corry is a staff writer for Noisey. Follow her on Twitter.