Eminem, the rapper born as Marshal Mathers, is known worldwide as one of the first white emcees to be loved, accepted and embraced by the hip-hop community and is now considered among the best in the industry with regard to lyricism. With so many iconic songs, it is hard to deny the Detroit rapper’s talent and the impact he has made on the genre as a whole.
Born in Missouri and raised in the 8 Mile area of Detroit, Eminem was the biggest name in hip hop at the turn of the millennium, without a doubt. His second album, The Slim Shady LP, released in 1999, was met with critical acclaim and went straight to number two on the Billboard 200, and by the end of 1999, it was certified four times platinum. To this day, it is still classed as a classic and is one of the most successful hip hop albums of all time.
Eminem’s alter-ego ‘Slim Shady’ captivated the world as he explored challenging subjects that no other rapper had dared to and flung profanity into his songs for fun. The rapper’s ability to immerse his listeners in a story was second to none, and the movie 8-mile only fuelled his popularity. His music remains some of the most memorable creations in all of hip-hop, and to this day, Eminem has the highest-selling hip hop album of all time with his album, The Eminem Show, certified diamond, with over 27 million sales and 3 billion streams. Kanye’s 11 albums combined have sold a total of 35 million. So for one album, The Eminem Show is one of the best-selling albums in the world.
What’s fascinating about Eminem is how his music fused hip hop with humour. A rare talent. Often, listening to an Eminem album is akin to listening to the diary of a psychopath, yet somehow it still fits within the parameters of hip hop. Beyond the negative attitudes and violence that is so often associated with the hip hop genre, Eminem provides levity, and Eminem’s tracks are funny as well as dark. They can evoke a range of emotions, and that’s crucial in hip hop. A quality track cannot be centred around just violence.
Eminem is always mentioned as a contender for greatest rapper of all time. With a song for every mood and many quality tracks below, we’ve picked out Eminem’s top five songs.
The five best Eminem songs of all time:
5. ‘My Name Is’ – Slim Shady LP, (1999)
This was the track that introduced Slim Shady to the world. Produced by Dr Dre sampling Labi Siffre’s 1975 track ‘I Got The…’ On its release in 1999, it peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at only number 36 but managed to reach number two on the UK Singles Chart.
Irrespective of the track’s chart performance, it managed to land Eminem his first ever Grammy award for ‘Best Best Rap Solo Performance’. However, the song wasn’t received well by Eminem’s mother, who is referenced several times in the track. In 2000, Debbie Mathers filed a $10 million slander lawsuit against the rapper. Some of the song’s lyrics suggest that she abused drugs, and one line suggested that she had no breasts. The case was settled in 2001 for $25,000, of which Debbie received only $1,600.
4. ‘Without Me’ – The Eminem Show, (2002)
This track was produced by DJ Head and Jeff Bass collaboratively. However, unlike ‘My Name Is’, this track performed amazingly, reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the UK Singles Chart.
The song landed Eminem another Grammy but this time in the category of ‘Best Music Video’. As the lead single to The Eminem Show, ‘Without Me’ is the lead single for the most successful hip hop album ever to be released. The music video currently has 1.4 Billion views on YouTube and has been streamed 1.2 Billion times on Spotify alone.
3. ‘Stan’ – The Marshall Mathers LP, (2000)
The Marshall Mathers LP was Eminem’s second album, and it was just as good as his The Slim Shady LP, if not better and cemented his place in hip hop. The album was a smash, so much so that it sold 1.78 million copies in its first week in the US alone, and ‘Stan’ was one of its highlight tracks.
‘Stan’ tells the story of a fan who is unhealthily obsessed with Eminem. The song details the contents of a piece of fan mail that ‘Stan’ wrote to Eminem before he took his own life. A tragic tale, the song samples ‘Thank You’ by the singer Dido and topped the charts across the globe in Australia, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom and others. The song is certified four times platinum.
2. ‘Lose Yourself’ – 8 Mile: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture, (2002)
‘Lose Yourself’ is one of Eminem’s most popular tracks and has been used in multiple films since the release of 8-Mile. The track was Eminem’s first to ever go all the way to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and became one of Eminem’s most highly decorated releases.
‘Lose Yourself’ was the first hip hop song in history to receive an Academy Award for ‘Best Original Song’. Furthermore, it got Mathers two Grammy awards in the categories ‘Best Male Rap Solo Performance’ and ‘Best Rap Song’. The song is certified Diamond, meaning it has surpassed 11-times platinum.
Earlier this year, Eminem performed the track at the Super Bowl LVI halftime show, which jumpstarted streams, causing the track to re-enter the Billboard Hot 100.
1. ‘The Real Slim Shady’ – The Marshall Mathers LP, (2000)
The lead single of The Marshall Mathers LP, ‘The Real Slim Shady’ is one of Eminem’s most celebrated tracks. Produced by Dr Dre, the track was Eminem’s first to reach number one in the UK. The song landed Slim Shady a Grammy Award for ‘Best Rap Solo Performance’ and was the song he performed at his legendary MTV Music Awards performance.
Mathers’ song, ‘The Real Slim Shady’, is an ode of sorts to his multiple personalities. In the lyrics, he infers he is a little crazy as he raps, “Yeah, I probably got a couple of screws up in my head loose”. The track is now seven-times platinum and has accrued over 1 billion streams on Spotify and 726 million views on YouTube. Eminem’s most beloved song is definitely deserving of the top spot on this list. Watch the full music video and his live performance below.