There have been a lot of great artists in hip hop over the years, but Eminem is arguably the best to ever do it. He has made controversial music since he first stepped on the scene in 1996 with Infinite. We all know his story thanks to the Oscar winning movie 8 Mile, but his style has evolved over the years and as a result, some fans have stopped listening. Other fans understand that in order to remain relevant, evolution is necessary in any kind of music. Eminem will never be what he was, but he’s still putting out quality music at almost 50 years old. Below is all of his albums ranked from worst to best.
To this day, Infinite still has some merit to it. It isn’t a bad album by any means, Em has simply made much better music since his first studio album. There are a few good tracks including the title track Infinite and Backstabber, but overall it isn’t the first thing you should listen to when looking for his music. It also was a commercial failure, selling around 1,000 copies. Tough scene.
To be clear, I didn’t hate Revival like a lot of die hard Eminem fans did. Sure, the overall sound is inconsistent and the vision of the album is murky at best, but there are some good songs on it. That being said, overall it is an album that is fueled by self-doubt that doesn’t really do much for his legacy. The production isn’t too great either and a lot of the beats feel uninspired.
Encore is an album that features some of Eminem’s most well known songs and some of his “what the hell were you thinking?” songs. This album might be the most obvious in terms of how easy it is to tell that Em is on drugs while recording it. There is so much slurring throughout each track and it makes it feel sloppy. However, it did bless us with Mockingbird, Like Toy Soldiers, Evil Deeds, and Yellow Brick Road, so there is some merit to it.
To many fans, Recovery is a rebirth album that spawned the Eminem we know now. His style, flow, mic presence, and types of beats all changed drastically with this album. Some of it worked well and some of it is extremely forgettable. There are classics on this album such as Not Afraid, Love the Way You Lie (Ft Rhianna), Space Bound, and 25 to Life. But for every good song there seems to be a mediocre one to follow it such as Almost Famous (Ft Pink) where it literally sounds like Em is yelling the entire time. Recovery is a solid album overall.
7. The Marshall Mathers LP 2
The MMLP2 really showed off Eminem’s skills in a way that we had never really seen before. On this album, he raps faster than ever and in that quick wordplay there is substance as well. There is some vintage Slim Shady on this album and the opening track Bad Guy is essentially “Stan” for a new generation (and basically a sequel track to it). What is frustrating about this album is that it is a sequel to The MMLP and his sound is so different between the two albums that it almost feels pointless to call it The MMLP2. It would have been interesting to see what this album had been like if it released back in the day, shortly after The MMLP. Regardless, we got what we got and it is a damn good album.
For all of his career up till this point, fans learned to wait 3-4 years between Eminem albums. Kamikaze is the first album that he just dropped out of nowhere one night and shocked everyone around the world. This album is vengeful and has such purpose to it and it shows the fans that he listened to their harsh criticism of Revival. There are some great songs on this album and he disses people left and right. Something that has always been known about Eminem is that he doesn’t care what people think, in the sense that he’s gonna do what he wants and rap about what he wants. Kamikaze captures that mentality perfectly.
5. Music To Be Murdered By
Following the same trend as Kamikaze, Em dropped this album randomly and surprised fans around the world. Music To Be Murdered By is a fantastic album that is a perfect mixture of old and new Eminem. He proves that at 47 years old, he can still put out quality content and his following is just as strong as ever. MTBMB opened at number one on the Billboard 200 with 279,000 album-equivalent units and 217.6 million streams. Not bad for an old man. There are some destined classics on this album such as Darkness and Godzilla.
4. The Slim Shady LP
The Slim Shady LP is the first of the big three classic albums that thrust Eminem into the hip-hop world at the start of the millennium. It is a low budget album and that actually helps it in terms of aesthetic. Full of rich content and vivid storytelling from Em’s Detroit life, TSSLP is a hip hop classic that not only was the true start of Eminem’s career, but it also helped save Dr. Dre who was struggling at the time.
3. The Eminem Show
The Eminem Show is the album that released and put Em on top in the music world. He held nothing back and almost every song is a classic itself. What always blows me away about this album is that it was self-produced. Sure, Dre was probably over Em’s shoulder half the time in the studio, but it is still impressive. The mixture of rap and rock on The Eminem Show was revolutionary and makes it arguably the greatest hip hop album/rap-rock album of all time.
2. The Marshal Mathers LP
The MMLP is a monumental album that helped Em blow up and become the artist we know today. Everything about it is controversial, brutal, and iconic. At this time in 2000, it was shocking to hear what was being said on each track and it blew everyone away. It is both more comical and darker than The Slim Shady LP and it proved that all bets are off when it comes to what Eminem will say and do. He builds a very intriguing world with The MMLP and hip hop wouldn’t be the same without it.
I’m aware that most lists out there wouldn’t have Relapse as Eminem’s number one album. Hell, most of them would have it near the bottom. But in my opinion, Relapse is the weirdest and most unique hip hop album of all time. His wordplay and delivery of the lyrics, often with a British accent, make for an interesting, bold experience. The sound of the album as a whole is unlike anything I have ever heard and the fact it got released being so vile and offensive makes me love it even more. If you go into it with an open mind you’ll only appreciate it more.
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