Some people say that Marshall Mathers III is the greatest rapper of all time. While that may irk some that constantly spend time in the Youtube comment section talking about white privilege while being white themselves, there’s no denying that the Detroit emcee is one of the best to ever do it (regardless of the variable, sales, skill, flow, lyrics, etc.). So, with that, us Slim Shady fans at BabbleTop.com decided to break down the top 15 Eminem songs/verses/features of all time!
15. I Need a Doctor – Just a Random Single (Doctor Dre/Eminem)
When Eminem had hit a wall creatively (around 2006), a lot of people started to point out that he really only had about five topics that he ever really talked about (his daughter(s), his mom, drugs use, being white, etc.) and while the Encore/whole 50 Cent period sort of solidified that, it’s songs like I Need a Doctor and the entire Recovery Album that showed that Eminem actually has one of the broadest ranges in regards to topics and the approach he takes compared to most rappers. This song is extremely emotional (as is the super long video) and is essentially Eminem’s love letter of sorts to Dr. Dre. Dre who had been a bit of a recluse for most of the 00’s and kept pushing back the release date of the album that was hip hop’s Chinese Democracy, Detox. Now it’s hard to blame Dre, whose son died of an accidental drug overdose and even before that Dre was starting to pull a sort of reverse Howard Hughes (A near billionaire perfectionist who instead of collecting his own urine and not bathing decided to start taking Human Growth Hormone). He was always notorious for working slow (Just ask Tupac, who said of Dre after he left Death Row Records “Yes he’s a dope producer but he hasn’t made a beat in years!”) it was the song I Need a Doctor that really fleshed out why that was. He apparently was super indecisive as the pressure that continued to mount for his third album, which (again) was initially titled Detox, to be as good or better than his first two (in The Chronic and The Chronic 2001) started to really mess with his head. Beyond that Eminem thanks Dre for putting his career on the line for him as well (to probably really avoid getting punched after he left the booth as he predicted in the song). It’s an amazing song that shows the loyalty the two have for one another after essentially, single-handedly (or double-handedly) changing the rap game, forever and beyond that it was just great to hear from Dre and his lil buddy again.
14. S*** on You – D12 Album
Speaking of the Rap Game (which is actually a D12 song), S*** on You was the street single that was released before Eminem’s rap group, D12, released their debut album (on a large label, anyway). Back in those days, a lot of rappers released a commercial single and a “street” single, to alleviate anyone pointing out that they’d sold out. Back then, also, essentially every rapper that made it would do two albums and then release an album with their “crew”. Most of those crews were truly awful (We’re looking at you, St. Lunatics) and Bizarre notwithstanding when D12 was “on”, they truly were an extremely talented group. Their talents are best displayed on S*** on You, which was released in March of 2001 and between Eminem’s most popular albums in The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show. While his compatriots really do shine on this song, it’s Eminem that holds it all together. The beat is the type that you really wouldn’t hear anymore (Thanks to Trap “music”) and the focus on lyrics, DEFINITELY, wouldn’t be either (at least for a new artist) and the black and white music video was the perfect contrast needed around 3 a.m. on BET back when they’d show every video (We’re looking at you The Mighty Casey!)
13. Criminal – The Marshall Mathers LP
Eminem was extremely good at pushing buttons back in his prime. After the release of his first album, which was objectively “homophobic” (if that’s your stance, you can find the evidence you’d want to get triggered) and full of hilarious but pretty brutal analogies and metaphors. Because of his use of the F-word (a slur for homosexual men that rhymes Tag-it or maggot) there were protests by LGBTQ groups across the country. This really just fed into Eminem’s hand and popularity as he took the minor but real protesting that occurred from his first album and threw an entire can of gas (with grenades taped to the C-4 explosive which is taped to the gas can’s dynamite) on his follow-up (classic) album, The Marshall Mathers LP. The best example of this is the last song on the album, titled Criminal. In it, he starts the song out by mocking the death of recently deceased homosexual designer, Gianni Versace by rapping “Hey, it’s me Versace, whoops somebody shot me! and I was just checking the mail, get it? Checking he MALE?!?” Beyond that, he adds a verse that can’t be repeated here (Think of the Children!) that essentially confirms that he “hates F**s? The answers yes! Homophobic, naw you’re just heterophobic…” (Okay, I repeated it). This song created a frenzy of anger that would’ve probably made people in 2017 spontaneously combust. Because of that, Eminem ended up performing his Grammy Award winning song, Stan, with homosexual/singing icon, Elton John, who he then hugged after the song was over. This song isn’t rated here because of the objectively horrible things Eminem said but rather because of the fact that it’s an amazing song (lyrically, set-up, beat, execution and accomplishing what he set out to do which was to cause controversy for the sake of causing controversy) and it’s Eminem in his element and prime at the same time. He may or may not be homophobic but he used this song to push the buttons of those who he felt were attacking him for not understanding his perspective and to create more controversy to sell more records. It worked brilliantly and helped this album go Diamond, which is ten million copies sold. Take that, Vanilla Ice.
12. My Words are Weapons – Funkmaster Flex IV/D12’s Devil’s Night
Perhaps the least known song on this list, it’s funny that two of the top 15 Eminem song’s came from Funkmaster Flex albums (DJ Khaled eat your heart out!). While I’m sure Eminem and Dr. Dre probably would avoid working with Flex these days (considering the fact that Flex has been insulting Tupac a lot lately which is just low class, we expected better from a guy named Funkmaster). My Words are Weapons is technically a D12 song but the beat and Eminem’s verse are just amazing. It’s essentially a song about using your words to defend yourself while the content isn’t kid friendly (Thanks, Bizarre), the (amazing) chorus is a great way to explain to a kid who’s been bullied how to get that bully to either leave him alone or beat him to death (it’s a toss up). Honestly though, this song is so good. Eminem’s flow is probably one of, if not the, best flow he’s ever displayed. While a lot of people loathed the “Thug Life Eminem”-era, where he lost a battle to Ja Rule of all people, this song showed that had Em not gotten (back) into drugs he still could produce good songs about being a gangster, while I’m a Soldier is a good example, My Words are Weapons is the best example of that. It’s also a peek into Eminem’s psyche and it’s a bit unhinged, that’s what makes Em so great. Also, this is probably best verse in Bizarre’s career and while that isn’t saying much, for once he adds to the song instead of ruining it, which is saying something.
11. Lady – Cheers (Obie Trice)
Poor Obie Trice. A nearly forgotten rapper who was on Eminem’s Shady Records label back in the early 00’s, he actually had an amazing debut album that was the soundtrack to many a college experience at the time. That album, titled Cheers, had a lot of songs produced by Eminem and while this was right around the time that Eminem’s drug use started to impact his ability to be Eminem (or especially Slim Shady, ironically), he completely murdered the fourth song on the album which was titled, Lady. The chorus alone shows why Eminem was born to make music, it’s complex but catchy at the same time (a lot like another song on our list Forgot About Dre, but in a different way, which is equally amazing). One of the last “good” Eminem songs until after his sobriety, Lady made many a suburban white kid a big fan of Obie Trice who was the first Detroit born artist to sell a million records since the heyday of Mo-Town.
10. Speedom (WWC2) – Tech N9ne featuring Eminem
Rap God almost nabbed this spot and really the write up for both would’ve been pretty similar so don’t shoot the messenger. For those not in the know, Speedom is a song by Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne that was the much hyped “sequel” or part two of his song World Wide Choppers from his album All 6’s and 7’s. In that song, Tech N9ne, Busta Rhymes, Yelawolf, Twista, D-Loc, JL of B. Hood & Twisted Insane and more all essentially attempted to rhyme faster than one another. There’s a great, short, video on YouTube of Tech listening to Eminem’s verse for the first time as it’s the 21st Century and a lot of collabs are done from different states or countries (Yay, internet!). While Eminem did get some flak for using technology to speed up one bar, the rest of the verse is an example of why Eminem is probably the most talented rapper of all-time. Whether it’s story-telling like Stan or I Need a Doctor, funny songs like most of his singles (that aren’t here because they’re a bit too transparent and gimmicky) or songs that are just essentially tests of one’s ability, Eminem seemingly always comes through and his flow on Speedom is so sick that it deserves to be here probably more than the fast verse on Rap God.
9. Elevator – Relapse Refill
A lot of people ragged on Relapse (Including Eminem himself), so much so that the original follow-up album, which was titled Relapse 2. That album was scrapped in favor of a better-named, and just plain better album, which was named Recovery. After people didn’t really like the super dark material that Em was coming up with as his brain recovered from years of pill popping he dcided to ditch the accents and serial killer motifs and go for the most personal album of his career that focused on recovery (obviously), his love life and life in general. That scrapped album had a lot of completed songs, so instead of not releasing them, he re-released Relapse (say that 10 times fast… re-released Relapse, re-released Relapse, re-released releasapse… Dang it!) with an additional CD that said was called Refill. That album had about five or six songs, most of which were straight up bangers. The best of that bunch is the song titled Elevator that was another one of Eminem’s untouchable choruses. The song is simple enough, it’s about the fact that his house has an Elevator, despite starting with the sort of horror film feeling that most songs on Relapse had. Thankfully that tone was abandoned right away and Eminem used each subsequent verse to spit his feelings about… his feelings. He also reminisces about his recently deceased friend Proof in one of his better choruses ever… It goes “There once was a saying that I used to say/ back in the day when I met Dre/ I used to sit and goof on the phone with my friend Proof/that if I went Gold, I’d go right through the roof/he’d say what if you went platinum I’d just laugh at him/ that’s not happening, that I can’t fathom/80 some million records worldwide later/I’m living in a house with a f****** Elevator”, which doesn’t read that catchy but will get stuck in your head like crazy while showing that Eminem has been so popular because he’s probably the best chorus creator of all time.
8. Almost Famous- Recovery
People consider Recovery to be one of Eminem’s greatest albums. Yet another album that went Diamond (Worldwide), it is a really, really great album and it was also a gigantic departure from the Eminem that we got to know over the decade plus before Recovery came out. The beats, the flows, everything about it sounded different. It sounded fresh. If Recovery was his Iron Fist, Recovery was his… Everything else in the MCU. While there are a lot of great songs on there, it’s more of a great ALBUM than a collection of single songs. They all tie together and it’s a really great, personal album. It was really the first time, outside of back when he decided he was a gangster after signing 50 Cent to his label, that we heard from Marshall Mathers and not Eminem or Slim Shady (For the most part). One of the songs that stood out from that album and that is one of the better hype songs on this list (outside of the best hype song ever, Lose Yourself) is titled Almost Famous. It’s a three verse history of how Eminem ended up getting signed by Dr. Dre and it’s probably one of Em’s better lyrical exercises. For example, check out this set of bars: Now get off my d***!/ ‘D***’ is too short of a word for my d***/Get off my antidisestablishmentarianism/ you prick!/ Don’t call me the Champ/ Call me the Space Shuttle Destroyer/ I just blew up the Challenger; matter fact, I need a lawyer/I just laced my gloves with enough plaster to make a cast/Beat his a** naked and peed in his corner like Verne Troyer/Y’all are Eminem backwards: you’re Mini Me’s…” (Eminem backwards is Meni-Me). The entire song is like this. It’s just amazing and some of the references are so deep that you have to pause the song and figure them out before continuing, how many other rappers are able to do that while making the song amazing catchy and adrenaline creating.
7. I’ll Hurt You – The Big Bang (Busta Rhymes)
This song is a great example of Eminem’s diversity. His flow here is something people had never heard (from him) before, or since, and his ability to outshine even hip hop legend Busta Rhymes, shows that when Eminem brings it, he brings it. This song came out in 2006, pretty much around the beginning of Eminem’s drug abuse and disappearance. Despite the fact that most of the music that he recorded around that time should be fit into a rocket and fired directly into the sun, he came through on this song that he also produced, titled I’ll Hurt You (obviously). The reason this song makes the cut is that it’s one of the better (if not the best) Eminem produced beats that were known for being pretty repetitive and not that great. Considering he built the song from the ground up, it’s not hard to see why his flow matched the beat so perfectly that it’d make a robots head explode. While Busta didn’t end up staying on Aftermath for very long, his short stint had some memorable songs and this is the best of that bunch and honestly one of the best Eminem songs ever.
6. The Warning (Mariah Carey/Nick Cannon Diss)
This diss track is probably the best diss song in the history of music (move over Hit ‘Em Up and Ether!). It’s a long story but essentially Eminem and Mariah Carey dated back in the early 2000’s and for whatever reason, after the stopped dating one another, Mariah essentially denied the fact that she ever dated Eminem in the first place. Eminem being Eminem, he spent the next decade or so bashing Mariah Carey in his songs, much to the delight of his fans. His first album after struggling with substance abuse, Relapse, had a song called Bagpipes From Baghdad that essentially insulted Carey and her then new husband/terrible actor Nick Cannon (From MTV and one decent movie from fifteen years ago). Cannon fancied himself a rapper as well and decided to diss Eminem and challenged him to a live one on one rap battle after both songs, which Eminem ignored. The thing that really ended up bothering Eminem though was the video for the Mariah Carey song Obsessed. In it, she wears a bunch of makeup in order to look like Eminem and essentially mocks him through out the video, even re-enacting some of his videos (like Stan). That seemed like a deathblow to Eminem, who had been referencing her for a decade and thus looked like the stalker that the video made him out to be, that is until Eminem responded with The Warning. What makes The Warning so great is, well everything, but especially the ending in which Eminem plays snippets of times that Mariah Carey was in his recording studio with him, singing flirtious things. Considering she denied ever hanging out with him and he has audio of her in his house, it was pretty much a wrap for Carey. After that and a threat that he still had some pictures of her, Carey and Cannon completely abandoned the battle and ended up getting a divorce as well. It’s extremely rare that a diss-track goes unresponded to (as famous people have large egos and Carey has the largest ego on the planet) and that’s why this was such a great diss.
5. Forgot About Dre – The Chronic 2001 (Dr. Dre)
1999 was Eminem’s year. First he released an album which while in 2017 we don’t bat an eye when yet another white rapper drops their debut album (or tried to get you to listen to their god awful mixtapes in the YouTube comments sections by appealing to your … Everything and then logging into another account (or six) and “responding” that the album was “actually really dope, stranger I’ve never met or been before!”), but in 1999 the idea of a white rapper was essentially a running joke. Thanks to Rob Van Winkle, aka Vanilla Ice, rap was essentially an all black endeavor (not to mention the fact that they created the art form that is rap). Sure, the “underground” was full of white rappers, backpackers as they were called, but a major record label signing a white rapper? One owned by Dr. Dre himself? It was a huge deal. His debut album, The Slim Shady LP, went triple platinum and at the end of that year he ended up with three of the top five verses/songs on this list within the course of about four to five weeks. While the first single for Dre’s long awaited Chronic 2001 was Still DRE, it was the second single titled Forgot About Dre that turned the Chronic 2001 the massive success it ended up being. Eminem’s verse and amazing chorus displayed his amazing talent by making an almost rambling chorus so awesome that it’d get stuck in your head for days. It’s because of that, and the super deep metaphors combined with his flow (“Slim Shady, hotter than a set of twin babies, in a Mercedes Benz with the windows up, when the temp goes up to the mid-eighties”) that this song cracks the top 5.
4. If I Get Locked Up Tonight – The Tunnel (Funkmaster Flex)
We know, you were expecting Stan (around) here. But, as far a song that you can re-listen to over and over, it really doesn’t make the cut (it’s essentially the song version of Requiem for a Dream, something that’s amazing but that you can only really listen to/watch once) . It’s a great story and it’s different and thus unique, but really, it’s not catchy or really that great of a SONG. We’d much rather listen to a song like the standout track from famous (obviously) DJ Funkmaster Flex and DJ Big Kap in December of 1999. This is back when pretty much every beat that Eminem was flowing over came from Dr. Dre who hadn’t been really working in years (as he was setting up his own label with Jimmy Iovine of Interscope records and still recovering from the flop that was Dr. Dre Presents: The Aftermath and the Firm before that), so he had a ton of amazing beats probably piling up in his basement. Eminem took immediate advantage of that hoarding of dope beats by being able to rhyme over beats by the best hip hop producer of all-time. If I Get Locked Up Tonight is a perfect example of that, as the beat is one of Dre’s finest. Em manages to enhance the song and considering it came out after The Slim Shady LP it’s a great example of the Slim Shady era Eminem (with the hilarious ad-libs he used to throw out in the background like an episode of Family Guy’s cut-aways) flowing over a beat that is just mean and awesome at the same time and in a way felt like it was celebrating the fact that Dre was back and Eminem was the reason why.
3. Dead Wrong – Born Again (The Notorious BIG)
Perhaps Eminem’s greatest VERSE of all time, his appearance on the only Notorious BIG posthumous album that was worth buying, came only a month after one of the only verses that is even close to Dead Wrongs’ is his work on Forget About Dre. It’s because of these features that rappers like Snoop Dog have said that he won’t have Eminem on a song because he always murders the rappers he’s featured with and he doesn’t want to be embarrassed. Either way, Eminem knew that he had to come strong and correct on this song as it was his chance to get as close as possible to working with one of his idols, the Notorious BIG, as was possible (unless you have a shovel?). Other rappers immediately started copying Eminem’s flow (including some on Jay Z’s label at the time, Roc-a-Fella records) and it was this song that helped give him a lot of juice in the industry as at the time he was known as a T(otal)R(equest)L(ive) rapper who only dissed pop stars. So, when this was released and Eminem ended up out-shining Biggie on what was one of the better beats of that decade, he became a much more respected artist and while rappers would’ve loved a feature from him at the time, like Snoop, a lot didn’t want to end up getting outshined on their own track, either.
2. Lose Yourself – 8 Mile Soundtrack
Eminem reached his peak of fame when the first song from the soundtrack to his semi-autobiographical film, 8 Mile, was released. Coming out after Eminem’s second Diamond album, The Eminem Show, the “theme” song to what amounted to an objectively good movie is still one of the best examples of a song that can get you amped up and one of the best songs from a film ever. The song was Eminem’s most successful, winning the Grammy for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Solo Performance in 2004 along with the Academy Award for best original song in a film. That’s right, Eminem has an Oscar. It was also the highest ranking rap song in this century’s 500 Greatest Songs of all-time by Rolling Stone (one of only three hip hop songs from this century that made the list, sorry Pit Bull). This is truly peak Eminem and came right before his fall into sub-mediocrity once he relapsed on pills and ended up going into a deep, deep depression once his best friend and hype-man Proof was murdered in a Detroit dive bar by a bouncer. Considering the fact that Eminem nearly died, we almost lost him and that would’ve made this song title more poignant. Thank god that didn’t happen. And thank god for his Mom’s Spaghetti.
1. Renegade – Jay Z featuring Eminem
The song that was forever burned into the minds of Jay Z fans, thanks to the song Ether by one-time Hova rival, Nas. In that song he essentially brings up the fact that Eminem “Murdered you on your own S***”. While some construed that as a slight diss to Eminem (Saying that Eminem had a better set of verses implies that he should be embarrassed which brings up the question, why?), others relished in the fact that their favorite musician just outshined one of the greatest rappers of all-time, in Jay Z, on a song that appeared on his penultimate album The Blue Print. This song was originally a collab between Eminem and Royce Da 5’9″ and once Jay Z heard the beat Eminem sent it over and they removed Royce’s lyrics (hence the reason Eminem sort of sounds odd during the chorus when he introduces Jay before calling himself “…and I’m the sinister, mister kiss my A** is just-a RENEGADE!”), either way, this is Eminem at his best as he’s relishing the infamy he had at the time and is on another level when he flows. If you don’t have this list on your playlist there’s something wrong with you.