Eminem’s been through good times and bad and thanks to his music, the fans have been there with him every step of the way. But no matter what, Eminem is still one of the most respected rappers and lyricists in the genre. Never one to censor himself and always willing to poke fun at himself, he’s one of the most successful rappers around. With talks of a new album this year and Eminem releasing a new song just last week, it’s a good time to look back on his material so far. Here are his albums ranked by the best albums ever (The Absolute Best) the albums that are really good, but slightly miss the mark (The Good), the albums that shouldn’t be mentioned (The Bad) and the releases that are not for every fan (Die Hard Fans Only).
The Absolute Best:
The Marshall Mathers LP
Even though it’s not his first release, this is the album that made Eminem a superstar. This is where he made countless friends and enemies alike. Not only does his have some of his biggest hits like “The Real Slim Shady,” but the biographical record has some hard hitting tracks based on his life, such as “The Way I Am” and the mega disturbing “Kim.” Though it caused a lot of controversy at the time, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a phenomenal record that has some of the most clever and mind blowing lyrics from the rapper thus far.
The Eminem Show
Though most artists have trouble making a follow up to a mega successful record, Eminem makes it look easy with this album. Filled with more of the same material that made him a household name, The Eminem Show takes everything that was great about the previous album and intensifies it. Here we also find a more mature Eminem who has grown as a songwriter and a rapper. Sure, he has this his standard joke songs like “Without Me,” but a lot of the tracks had even more wit and venom that made the listener step back and go “whoa.”
After a not so great record and a prescription drug problem, things were looking bleak for the rapper, but he overcame the odds and showed the world that he wasn’t done yet. Even though Recovery isn’t his greatest album, it’s still amazing in its own right. It showed that Eminem still had that fire in him that makes him spits out verses like quickfire. What’s even better about the record is that he’s completely honest with his fans. He addresses the drug issue, losing his best friend, and even acknowledges that Relapse wasn’t his best work. With material this exciting and fresh, the world waits on edge until he releases his next record.
The Slim Shady LP
While it’s not technically his first album, it’s the one that introduced the world to Slim Shady. When this record dropped by in 1999 you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing the rapper’s name. The songs are crude, rude, at times disturbing, and at others hilarious, but it’s why people love Eminem so much. You won’t find his best song writing here, but the groundbreaking record did show that Marshall Mathers was unlike other rappers. He was angry and out to get anyone, especially if you got in his way. There’s no doubt about it that this is a classic album and one of the best released that year.
To be fair this album isn’t horrible, but when compared with the albums that came before it, it falls short. There are some great and heartbreaking songs here, like “Mockingbird” and the politically charged “Mosh,” but there’s something missing from these songs to make them stick in your mind. The rhymes aren’t that impressive and instead of making you go “damn!” they make you go “huh?” Most of the tracks are throwaways and songs like “Ass Like That” leave you shaking your head, wondering where the rapper went wrong. This is where the cracks started to form and they broke open on his following release.
2006-2007 were rough times for Eminem. Not only did he divorce his wife Kim (again), he recently lost Proof, his best friend, and he was battling a prescription drug problem. Somehow, all of this shows on this record in the worst possible way. Don’t get me wrong, this album has its moments in songs like “Crack a Bottle” and “Hello,” but most of the songs are forgettable and are no where near among his best work. Even Eminem himself knows the record was pretty shoddy. He references it on the track “Not Afraid:” “In fact, let’s be honest/ That last Relapse CD was ‘ehh’/ Perhaps I ran them accents into the ground/ Relax, I ain’t going back to that now.” If anything, it feels like one of those records that had to be made, so Em could get back on his game.
Die Hard Fans Only:
While you will find the best of Eminem on this release, it’s pretty pointless if you already own all his stuff, unless you’re a collector. To make the record more enticing, there are new tracks on the album, like “Fack,” “When I’m Gone,” and “Shake That.” While they’re pretty good, it’s still not enough to get fans who already own most of the material to pay full price for it. If you come across it for a few bucks, it’s definitely worth picking up, especially if you get the deluxe edition, which features even more previously unreleased songs from the rapper.
This is pretty much Relapse plus seven new tracks. As I mentioned earlier, this album isn’t really good enough to justify getting it again, unless you’re an avid collector. The extra songs included aren’t even that mind blowing to make people rush out and get it. I understand Eminem was enthusiastic to release so much new material after his hiatus, but the extra songs aren’t enough to mask that this album is simply not his best. Again, if you come across this super cheap, pick it up and listen to it for yourself. Otherwise, it’s probably better if you avoid it.