Last Thursday was Eminem’s 47th birthday (yeah, I know) and I thought that a good way of celebrating that was to count down what I believe to be the best songs that he has released through his entire career. He might be past his prime now, but Eminem is still one of the greatest rappers to ever bless the mic and he’s clearly someone who’s dedicated to and passionate about the artform of hip-hop. For the past few decades, he’s given us some classic records and I’m here to count down the best among them. Before we begin, here are some honorable mentions.
- Without Me
- Role Model
- Cleaning Out My Closet
- No Love
- So Far…
- Not Afraid
- When You’re Gone
- Bad Meets Evil
- White America
- Nail In The Coffin
- I’m Back
- The Sauce
- Rap God
- The Warning
- Brain Damage
- Love Game
We start with the newest song on this list, Lucky You from last year’s Kamikaze. It makes sense to collaborate with Joyner Lucas, whose style of rapping is heavily influenced by Eminem. With Lucky You, both rappers call out the competition and how neither seem to get the credit that they deserve from different perspectives. A main theme in the Kamikaze album is Eminem’s dissatisfaction with the modern rap scene and this song is one of the few instances where he doesn’t come off as “Old Man Yells At Cloud.” Even past his prime, Eminem still has it in him.
THE REAL SLIM SHADY
Early in his rise, the Slim Shady songs brought Eminem to the mainstream platform. While My Name Is is a good song, it’s not Em at his best nor is it the best of the Slim Shady singles, especially with The Real Slim Shady existing. Over a bouncy Dr. Dre beat, Em takes potshots at various celebrities of the late 90s and early 2000s, including his usual target boy bands and pop princesses, plus, Will Smith, Tom Green, etc. He also mentions how there’s people who try to copy his look and he’s asking will the real Slim Shady please stand up. It’s an obvious pop crossover single, but it’s a pretty damn good one.
LIKE TOY SOLDIERS
One of the few good songs on Encore, Like Toy Soldiers is a more somber track with a hook sampling Martika that’s calling for an end to rap beefs before they get too violent. He brings up the feuds between 50 Cent and Ja Rule that he tried to squash until the latter mentioned his daughter in a song and his beef with Source Magazine and Benzino, who was an editor for the magazine. Eminem is tired of seeing people in hip-hop get killed and wants everyone to get along. The song was dedicated to Em’s friend Bugz, a D12 member who was shot and killed in 1999 and in the music video, his death was re-enacted by Proof, who would eventually be shot and killed two years after. A tragic case of life imitating art in that case.
THE WAY I AM
Whenever an artist has their first big hit, there’s always that pressure to follow it up with another hit. Well, The Way I Am is a big middle finger to those expectations as Eminem expresses his frustrations with having to live up to record executives’ expectations and his distaste for the fame and notoriety he’s gained. He can’t just mind his own business when he’s out in public thanks to fans running into him and wanting an autograph. All of this is delivered in an aggressive, confrontational flow where you can feel the anger coming out the speakers along with an ominous beat that features prominent piano notes.
With all the times he’s talked negatively about his mother, it’s kinda refreshing that Em would put out Headlights, which is basically one big apology. He forgives her for all of the things that have happened between them and understood that the hard times wasn’t solely her fault. As a parent himself, he’s reached a point where holding onto old grudges is pointless and he extends an olive branch to his mother. It shows that Eminem has grown and matured over the years, in one aspect at least. I’m just saying, the dude is almost 50 and it would be awkward if he’s still making songs dissing his mom.
This does count as an Eminem song. Bad Meets Evil is the rap duo of Eminem and Royce da 5’9 who put out an EP in 2011 called Hell: The Sequel that was nonstop flames, with the exception of one song. But we’re talking about Fast Lane instead, where both Em and Royce trade nonstop bars in an attempt to outdo one another. Along with that is a fire ass beat that matches the energy of the flows and a hook that I thought was performed by Nate Dogg, but it wasn’t and I don’t care because it’s a good hook. Great song that should have been bigger than it was.
SING FOR THE MOMENT
Eminem is very open about his love for rock music, which is why a good chunk of his songs either samples rock records or has rock elements in them. This brings us to Sing For The Moment, which heavily samples Dream On by Aerosmith in the production and the chorus. Also, Joe Perry contributes a guitar solo at the end of the song. In the song, Eminem raps about the impact hip-hop has had on our world and the stigma that plagues it. This music has been viewed by parents and establishment figures as a scourge that poisons kids’ minds and leads them to do moral wrongs, which is just false. For most of these kids, records from Eminem and other rappers are a form of therapy to them that helps them get through the days. This song is both epic and layered and it’s one of many Eminem classics.
TILL I COLLAPSE
Speaking of epic, this next song was made to be performed at big arena shows. Till I Collapse is a deep cut from The Eminem Show that features rocking production with drums straight from Queen’s We Will Rock You, giving it that big stadium sound that gets the crowd going. Eminem is spitting straight-up fire on this track as he flexes his lyrical abilities. A big plus for this track is having Nate Dogg perform the hook because he’s the hook king. Till I Collapse is the perfect workout song and so is the next song I’m gonna talk about.
There’s no way I was going to do a Best Eminem Songs list without mentioning this one. It’s impossible. It’s the song that pretty much defines Eminem at his best and it’s my pick for the best hit song of the 2000s. Lose Yourself comes from the 8 Mile soundtrack and brings together both Eminem and B-Rabbit, the character he plays in the movie, for one of the ultimate motivation tracks ever. You get one shot to make an impression to the world and you have to make it count. This is a message that can applied to any situation that you can be in. With this universal appeal, it’s not really a surprise that this song became such a huge critical and commercial success and all of the accolades it’s earned were well deserved. And it almost topped this list.
And finally, the best Eminem song of all time IS……………
I’m kidding. I wouldn’t do y’all like that. The real number one is Stan.
If there ever was a college course all about storytelling in rap, Stan has to be mentioned in the course. It’s up there among some of the best storytelling not just in rap, but in music period. Stan tells the story of a huge Eminem fan named Stan who’s writing letters to Eminem proclaiming his fandom and relating to his life story. Over the course of the song, Stan becomes more obsessive and angrier when he doesn’t get an immediate response, so he kidnaps his pregnant girlfriend, puts her in the trunk of his car, and prepares to drive into the river while using a voice recorder to send a message to Eminem that he realize that he doesn’t know how to send out. In the final verse, Eminem writes a response letter to Stan and thanking him for being a fan while trying to understand his psychosis. Then he realizes that Stan killed himself and his girlfriend and he heard about it on the news. As you can see, this song is dark, from the subject matter to the bleak production that utilizes a Dido sample (who’s also featured on the track). Funny enough, this song would leave an impact on our culture for introducing the phrase stan, which describes someone who’s overly-obsessed with a celebrity figure and the people who called themselves stans completely missed the whole point of the term and are acting like Stan in this song. That aside, Stan is a great storytelling song that shows how multifaceted Eminem can be as an artist and I would easily call his best song to date.
And that was my list of the best Eminem songs. What do you think? Comment below and let me know.
SONG OF THE WEEK
Bad Meets Evil-Eminem ft Royce da 5’9