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 highly dangerous 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 was able to fuse 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 albums are funny as well as dark. They can evoke a range of emotions, and that’s crucial in hip hop, a quality album cannot be centred around just violence.
With such a rare talent, Eminem is always mentioned as a contender for greatest rapper of all time. With a song for every mood and a multitude of quality albums, below, we’ve picked out Emininem’s top five albums.
The five best Eminem albums of all time:
5. Relapse (2009)
Relapse is considered one of Eminem’s weaker albums, but not his worst. However, many would claim that Relapse was the last album of Eminem’s winning streak. Since the year 1999 every album Eminem released was instantly Platinum, however, unlike artists such as Jay-Z and Kanye West, Eminem’s run would last for about 10 years. The album’s lead single ‘Crack A Bottle’ performed fairly well, and the album won a Grammy Award for ‘Best Rap Album’.
However, album reception, single performance and charting debuts would only go down from here for Eminem’s following projects. With outliers like ‘I Love The Way You Lie’ featuring Rihanna charting fairly high, some of his following singles did well. However, many would ask whether or not features were bolstering these singles.
4. Encore (2004)
Encore is one of Eminem’s most iconic albums. With slightly more commercial tracks such as ‘Just Lose It’ for the radio, Encore also has more serious hip hop tracks such ‘Yellow Brick Road’.
Like the majority of Eminem’s early albums, Encore did extremely well commercially and sold 710,000 copies within 3 days of its release. After 10 days, it had sold approximately 1,582,000 in the US alone. It went to number one on the Billboard 200 and went to number one on the UK Albums Chart.
3. The Slim Shady LP (1999)
The first album that Eminem released through a major label, The Slim Shady LP was the world’s first introduction to Eminem and his crazy alter-ego Slim Shady. It was something that the world of hip hop had never seen or heard before, and regardless of whether they instantly liked it, it turned everybody’s heads.
It was a young white man who could rap well, had substance to his music and wasn’t just a gimmick. Furthermore, he was signed to Dr Dre. This was unheard of. It wasn’t Vanilla Ice, it was an actual white hip hop artist from an actual hood. Instant shock, instant curiosity and an instant sell-out. So many people went to buy the LP that by November of the next year, the album was certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA. A classic.
2. The Eminem Show (2002)
The world’s best-selling hip hop album, The Eminem Show has all the Eminem classics on it, and as of 2022, it has been certified 12 times platinum. As expected, the album went straight to number one in the US and UK and won Eminem his third Grammy for ‘Best Rap Album’. The lead single ‘Without Me’ won Eminem’s first Best Music Video’ Grammy.
Despite Jay-Z’s continued prominence throughout the 2010s and Kanye’s continued relevance, not one artist has been able to surpass the number of album sales that The Eminem Show has accrued.
1. The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
The Marshall Mathers LP as Eminem’s second album was that test to see if the rapper was going to be a one-album flop or a mainstay, luckily for the rapper, it was just as good as his The Slim Shady LP and cemented his place in hip hop as an MC who, like all the best could rap skillfully and create a cohesive body of work.
The album’s lead single, ‘The Real Slim Shady’, is one of the most legendary songs in hip hop, and so is the album’s third single, ‘Stan’. The album was a smash, so much so that it sold 1.78 million copies in its first week in the US alone and won Eminem a Grammy for ‘Best Rap Album’. However, there were some concerns about the dangerous topics the rapper was exploring on the album, with the label insistent that the rapper’s lyrics referencing the Columbine High School massacre be censored on the album.
Regardless, it was a fantastic album for Eminem and has gone down in history as probably his best.