Compact Shady
August 13, 2011 9:27 PM   Subscribe

Attention all Eminem aficionados : If you could pick only 5 Eminem songs to recommend to someone for download, which 5 would they be?

So I have always been interested in Mr. Mathers, but never really had the time to sort through his oeuvre. I would like a recommendation from those of you who do listen to him: Which 5 (or perhaps 6) songs should I go to onto iTunes and buy? Arguably, I am looking to examine Eminem a little more, so I would like what you would consider his ‘best’, whatever that means to you. Perhaps you could tell me why you picked what you did? Thanks in advance!
posted by oflinkey to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I only ever owned his first 3 albums so I'm not a complete expert, but imo the closing track off his debut album, Still Don't Give A Fuck, is the best I ever heard from him.
posted by mannequito at 9:41 PM on August 13, 2011

I would download the entire Marshall Mathers album.

I'm not the rap/hip hop guy at all, but a buddy of mine was a real music aficionado at that time. Had every album of everyone at the release date, always. He popped this album in and we listened to it non stop from Des Moines to Minneapolis and back.

It's my interpretation that his albums are almost like long stories, in the old sense of an album. You can't just get two or five songs. You have to get the LP and listen to the evolution/devolution through them.

It's a very good album. It really is very very good. I mean its funny, bouncy, radioplay, serious and goddam terrifying. All of it is worth listening to. It's one of the very few hip hop albums I still own. And like.
posted by sanka at 9:42 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Business from The Eminem Show

Stan from The Marshall Mathers LP

My Name Is from The Slim Shady LP

Underground from Relapse

Amityville from The Marshall Mathers LP

On preview - agreed, you should just get The Marshall Mathers LP (and The Eminem Show) as albums.
posted by ish__ at 9:44 PM on August 13, 2011


Not Afraid (I like the strength he displays in this song)
Lose Yourself (Track from 8 Mile, so you may have heard it)
White America (I like how he repeats the lyrics and I like the.. anger.)
Like Toy Soldiers (I like the message of this song)
Without Me (I love his ego in this song)
posted by royalsong at 9:47 PM on August 13, 2011

"My Name is" because it pretty much gives you a clear picture of what this character named Eminem is all about.

"97 Bonnie and Clyde" because it shows you an even darker side to his character.

"Lose Yourself" because it's about a loser fighting back to get his shot.

"Stan" because it delves into MM's obsession and struggles with his own success (dude is messed up by it, apparently).
posted by Gilbert at 9:49 PM on August 13, 2011

Hi. Not exactly a huge Eminem fan, but I'll chip in 2 cents worth:

1. My Name Is.
2. Bitch Please II
3. Stan
4. Lose Yourself
5. Who Knew
posted by bigZLiLk at 9:51 PM on August 13, 2011

I've picked several, that span his entire career, I've tried to pick ones that you'd have been less likely to hear on the radio/tv. I like them for a variety of reasons, mainly because they just "sound good", but the lyrics on most of them are amazingly poetic (imo).

I love you more
Rock bottom
You're never over
posted by Sonic_Molson at 9:53 PM on August 13, 2011

Agree with above suggestions (esp My Name Is, Lose Yourself, and maybe White America), and I'd also nominate Square Dance. I'm no expert though.
posted by salvia at 9:56 PM on August 13, 2011

Slightly OT, but a neat look at the rhyming of Lose Yourself
posted by mattdini at 9:59 PM on August 13, 2011 [6 favorites]

That video is amazing mattdini, thanks for sharing it.
posted by sanka at 10:08 PM on August 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

I just spent a while listening to a bunch of Eminem songs, especially his earlier, lesser known stuff. Even though it's over the top with violence and drugs, it's also about being poor and I find that more approachable than rapping about the problems of being famous and homophobic.

Guilty Conscience to me is amazing, both in concept and execution.

I don't even know that I can come up with 5 without resorting to the really well known songs. It seems like so much of his early stuff shows flashes of brilliance with a few amazing lyrics, but few of the songs really stand out as a complete package to me.

Rock Bottom I do think works all the way through and Stan is also a brilliant idea that I feel compelled to list.

Honorable mentions to Just Don't Give a F**k/Still Don't Give a F**k, and to As The World Turns (for being ridiculous).
posted by cali59 at 10:19 PM on August 13, 2011

"Kim" from the Marshall Mathers LP is a study in contradictions: both chilling and heartbreaking. It's a dialogue between him and his wife Kim (he acts out her voice), but it's mostly him railing against her and eventually killing her at the end of the song. It's horribly misogynistic, but at the same time he brings the pathos, moving from screaming out "KIM!" in anger to a small, sad "why don't you like me?" Even as you're disgusted by his actions, you also feel sorry for him. It's very, very hard to listen to, but it's a great example of how well he can play with emotions and how he can manipulate his own image in so many ways in one song.
posted by pised at 10:21 PM on August 13, 2011

1) The Way I Am

The wordplay is pretty dope. The shout out to Rakim with the way he says "I am whatever you say I am" (signifying Rakim's verse from As the Rhyme Goes On), and overall his flow is mesmerizing. Video was pretty decent too.

2) The remix of Murder she wrote - I think it's called Murder Murder

Storytelling at the Scarface level. Nice kick, and the Tupac Sample. You can almost feel yourself in the car with him. "Stole a car and made a profit. Grab a tape from out the deck and loft it out the window like the girl on Set It Off did. Jetted off, kid..."

3) Renegade

He blew Jay-Z off of his own track. No no, let me say that again. He blew Hov off his own track.

4) What You Say (with Dr. Dre)

The song starts off with Em: "I was born to brew up storms. Stir up shit. Kick up dust. Cuss til I slur up spit..." And him and Dre start weaving rhymes in and out of the track and the beat knocks like fuck.

5) Hellbound/Scary Movies

Seconding salvia. He only has an opening line on Hellbound, but the wordplay is insane. I won't type it out here, but listen to it, for sure. Since that's only a verse, add on his verse from Scary Movies that starts off "The one man on the planet that'll drive off of the grand canyon, jump out of a Grand Am and land in it handstanding." Again, the imagery is ridiculous.
posted by cashman at 10:26 PM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Agreed with above ... but if you add a No. 6 spot, Ass Like That is hysterical.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 10:27 PM on August 13, 2011

Bonny and Clyde picks up exactly at the end of Kim. I really had no idea, but this thread got me listening to Eminem on youtube.

"Kim" is goddam terrifying, and "Bonny and Clyde" carries on the terrifying in a completely different way.
posted by sanka at 10:27 PM on August 13, 2011

If you want a glimpse of his playful side also, try My Band.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:08 PM on August 13, 2011

Love You More
Nail in the Coffin
Rabbit, Run
How Come
Go to Sleep
Spend Some Time
posted by foursentences at 12:21 AM on August 14, 2011

Not a full five, but a couple good ones. Mosh, if only for it's attempt to get out the vote after voter registration had already closed. Still, an outright political song from an artist who, freedom of speech aside, is very non-political.

Drug Ballad is good for the carefree Eminem that we first met. In the same vein, Guilty Conscience is a great collaboration, and pretty damn funny.

The best, though, for me at least is Bitch Please II. Dre, Snoop, Eminem, Nate Dogg and Xzibit. Good music, great song.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:47 AM on August 14, 2011

Lose Yourself
The Way I am
Bonny and Clyde
Under the Influence

In that order.
posted by allnamesaretaken at 6:12 AM on August 14, 2011

1. Any Man (post-Infamous, pre-Slim Shady. I would also accept Thirstin Howl III's 'Watch Deez')
2. Forgot About Dre (this is a Dr. Dre song, but Eminem does a guest verse and the chorus, and everyone believes he wrote Dre's verses)
3. Dead Wrong (from the posthumous Biggie album Born Again)
4. Renegade (this is the Jay-Z song that Nas was talking about when he said 'And Eminem murdered you on your own shit')
5. A made-up medley of battle rhymes and radio-show freestyles. Scribble Jam and the Wake Up Show would be good places to start.
posted by box at 8:27 AM on August 14, 2011

A lot of good choices here. The one album track I would choose -- among the non-singles, the non-popular songs -- is "Cleaning Out My Closet." Fantastic understated production, combined with Eminem's most poignant and immaturely yet righteously-angry lyrics.

It says the most about where he comes from and what he tries to be -- both his attempt to move beyond the crappy situation from which he came and his failure to fully eradicate that past from his persona. It is both vicious and pathetic, powerfully individual while self-contradictory. And his flow on the track is murderous.
posted by lewedswiver at 9:21 AM on August 14, 2011

Also, he correctly uses (and rhymes) "Munchausen syndrome" in the song.
posted by lewedswiver at 9:26 AM on August 14, 2011

From the Eminem Show:
White America
Square Dance
2ndary: Business, Cleanin out my Closet

From Marshall Mathers LP:
Kill You
Real Slim Shady (The radio hit, but still fun)
2ndary: Stan, the Way I Am

From the Slim Shady LP:
My Name Is (again, a radio hit, but fun)
Brain Damage

I don't really know his stuff beyond those 3. Encore and Relapse always seemed a little weak comparatively, from what I heard at least.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:32 AM on August 14, 2011

nthing Renegade. Seriously, Hov drops a great verse. And them Em just makes a mockery of it.

also worth listening to:

If I Had - really pure, deep frustration. Delivered well.
posted by weaponsgradecarp at 12:52 PM on August 14, 2011

Mockingbird blew me away. As a single parent - who also has the problem of trying to unofficially mentor sad 'lame duck' kids in dysfunctional families - the lyrics brought me to tears.

And nthing what lewedswiver said about Cleaning Out My Closet, for similar reasons.

I suspect I'm not your stereotypical Eminem fan. My kids are mortified that I have a handful of his songs on my MP3 player. But Mockingbird made me listen to his other stuff with new ears, I guess.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 1:33 PM on August 14, 2011

Brain Damage

Yeah * 1,000,000
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:11 PM on August 14, 2011

oh man, thanks for asking this question, it prompted me to dust off my copy of the Slim Shady LP for the first time in years

I forgot about this one (and didn't see it mentioned so far): Bad Meets Evil w/ Royce da 5'9"
"I don't speak, I just float in the air wrapped in a sheet, I'm not a real person, I'm a voice wrapped in a beat" soooo good!
posted by mannequito at 5:06 PM on August 14, 2011

If I Had is really great. Not one that would have ever been radio popular, but speaks to where he came from and what it was like to grow up in Detroit. I love it.

The whole entire Marshall Mathers LP is/was awesome. I listed to it for about a year and half straight and it is one of two CDs I have ever had to buy twice because I wore the first one out.

His newest solo release had RAVE reviews. It blew people away. I've only listened to it a couple of times, but it has a few good songs (Not Afraid being the lead single).
posted by misanthropicsarah at 9:58 PM on August 14, 2011

Lose yourself. The song only eclipsed by the eerie-good Chrysler commercial during this past year's Super Bowl set to this same song.
posted by teg4rvn at 11:26 AM on August 15, 2011

Since nobody else has mentioned it, I'll throw out Love the Way You Lie as a good example of the way Em collaborates with other (non-rap) artists.
posted by HenryGale at 3:35 PM on August 15, 2011

This thread has really opened my eyes and ears. It's amazing.
posted by sanka at 12:11 AM on August 21, 2011

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