Slim Shady LP was Eminem’s first major studio album and it was extremely fresh for the time. I was mesmerized when I first heard it as a kid. The rhymes were witty and psychotic with a crazy sense of humor. Eminem balanced it with personal stories and concept that blurred the line between fantasy and reality.
Here’s Eminem peforming “Role Model” live in 1999.
The Marshall Mathers LP which came out in 2000 had Eminem upping the ante in ways I never thought were possible. It remains my favorite rap album and one of the major reasons why I starting rapping myself. Eminem’s mastery of multi-syllabic rhymes and flow had astounded me. What I loved was how Eminem was responding to his critics and played deeper into his Slim Shady persona as a way to piss them off further. It was very socially aware and poked fun at everything in a smart way. The whole album has this touch of irony and it’s much darker and meaningful than his first album. Songs like “Stan” showed Eminem’s knack for telling a story in a genius way, while “The Way I Am” and “Marshall Mathers” had Eminem opened up more about his personal life beyond the Slim Shady persona.
Here’s Eminem performing “I’m Back”
The Eminem Show which released in 2002 was a different vibe for Eminem’s music. Eminem forgoes the more dark humor and ironic vibe of his Slim Shady persona (although it still is on the album) for a more in-depth look at everything in his personal and celebrity life that is being watched like The Truman Show. The album is very introspective with songs about his ex-wife, his beloved daughter, his strained relationship with his mom, the incidents and issues of superstardom, being a successful white rapper and his true passion for rap. It was an amazing album with songs that are hits to this day.
This is Eminem performing “White America” in 2002 with his new more mature political charged sound.
Around this time, Eminem starred in his own movie 8 Mile which was loosely based on his upbringing. This scene in 8 Mile is incredibly inspirational to me. I really related to the cinematography of this scene. You can see Eminem’s nervousness but also his dedication and passion for rap. This was more than just acting, but a reflection of what Eminem had to endure in his career and beyond.
Encore, released in 2004 was Eminem’s last album before his hiatus due to his drug addiction and loss of his best friend Proof. This album is extremely flawed in my opinion due to Eminem’s mind not being in the right places. However, there are some powerful songs on his album that prove Eminem on his worst day is still a solid rapper including “Like Toy Soldiers” and “Mockingbird”
Here is Eminem’s performing “Like Toy Soldiers”
Relapse was Eminem’s return to rap after his four year hiatus. Many fans complained about Relapse due to Eminem experimenting with an accent and it’s not being the epic comeback album that they were expecting. I personally LOVE relapse, as it’s a return to the Slim Shady persona but in a modern way. The album is very conceptual and sounds like a horror movie. Eminem’s flow is arguably is strongest because he rhymes at a advanced technical way throughout the entire album. It has become a cult classic in recent times and has gotten love from the Odd Future collective.
Here’s Eminem performing “3 Am” in 2009
Recovery dropped a year later in 2010. It was a hugely popular album driven by two massive singles “Not Afraid” and “Love The Way You Lie”. It is a very divisive album among fans. Some think this is a return to form and better than Relapse as Eminem was “maturing” in a more inspirational vibe of overcoming his addiction and lost the new accent. I belong to the other camp who think it was a weaker album. I’m not a fan of the more pop production on this album and his flow sounds choppy with forced punchlines and screaming vocals. However, it was awesome to see Eminem happy that he finally was free from some of the demons he had.
Here is Eminem performing “Not Afraid”
The Marshall Mathers LP II was released in 2013. It was a sequel to my favorite album of all time so it was hard to not have very high expectations for it. It was also confusing why he decided to dye his hair blonde and do a sequel after his new start with Recovery. Eminem did not reach the heights of the original, and it has most of the same flaws as Recovery but the album was good with it’s callbacks and references to the MMLP. It was awesome to see Eminem taking such pride in the past albums. Songs like “Rap God” proved although he may be past his prime, Eminem can still rap circles over most MCs.
Here’s Eminem performing “Rap God”