On this day in Hip Hop history, we celebrate the birthday of one of the greatest MC’s of all time, Eminem. Aside from being one the most prolific pure lyricists in Hip Hop, Eminem was a pioneer for diversity in rap culture. As the first white rapper to gain international acclaim, Eminem forever changed rap and proved that Hip Hop did not exist in a ethnic vacuum. Eminem brought with him a dark and angry demeanor like nothing Hip Hop had seen in the past. Although horrorcore, the rap sub-genre riddled with violence and destruction, had already been popularized by groups like Three 6 Mafia and NWA, Eminem added an introspective twist. His lyrics dealt more with internal conflicts caused by life experience rather than the external struggle of gang culture. In honor of his bornday, we have compiled a list of Eminem’s ten greatest singles that represent all sides of his ridiculously successful career.
#10 “When I’m Gone” – Curtain Call: The Hits
Serving as what was supposed to be Eminem’s farewell to Hip Hop, “When I’m Gone” was the previously unreleased outro to Eminem’s greatest hits album Curtain Call:The Hits. Peaking at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, it was obvious that it he were true to his word, Eminem would have truly been missed. Thankfully for most, he made his return to rap in 2009 with the release of his sixth studio album Relapse.
#9 “Mockingbird” – Encore
Dedicated to his daughter, Hailie, “Mockingbird” is a very personal single going into depth about Eminem’s love for and relationship with her. The track touches on themes and events in Eminem’s life regarding being a father along with his infamous relationship with ex-wife Kim. This single peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 2004 Grammy’s.
#8 The Way I Am – The Marshall Mathers LP
It’s no secret that Eminem is one of Hip Hop’s most controversial figures. At the beginning of his career, his constant use of profanity and reliance on shock value built up a long list of enemies. Eminem was under constant threat of lawsuit during the early 2000’s and this particular single was a response to some of those instances specifically. As a whole, this single was Eminem’s rebuttal to Interscope Records requesting he tone down his controversial image and fold more into the pop-rapper role they wanted him to play.
#7 Just Lose It – Encore
Along with being a serious lyricist, Eminem is known for some rap music’s most comedic song/video combos. “Just Lose It” is no short of that trend. Featuring a spoof of Bad Santa, botched Michael Jackson, MC Hammer, and Madonna impersonations, and Slim Shady streaking, this may be one of his most outrageous videos. This single was one of Eminem’s international hits, peaking at #1 on the Hot singles charts of seven different countries while only peaking at# 6 in the US).
#6 Cleanin’ Out My Closet – The Eminem Show
What makes Eminem so likable is how fearlessly personal he gets with his music. It’s common Marshall Mathers didn’t have the most pleasant growing up experience nor does he have the best relationship with his mother; and, in “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” Eminem goes into detail about some of the events of his life that led to him being the man he is today. “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” was Eminem’s second Top 10 single, peaking at #4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart (along with being a top 10 hit around the world).
#5 My Name Is – The Slim Shady LP
Serving as Eminem’s introduction to the mainstream, “My Name Is” is one of Eminem’s most important singles. Not only is it the first to win him a Grammy for Best Solo Rap Performance in 2000, but it was his first released under Dr. Dre‘s new label Aftermath. This song can also be credited as one of Eminem’s most grotesque. This was the first time in Hip Hop artist used this tactic of shocking vulgarity to grab the attention of the masses. Since, rappers Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt have found a immense level of success from utilizing similar tactics.
#4 Stan – The Marshall Mathers LP
Although it may have only hit the 51st spot on the Billboard Hot 100, “Stan” is one of the most creative rap songs ever written. The song describes the relationship of Eminem and one of his supporters from the perspective of a crazed obsessive fan. Featuring and altered version of Dido‘s “Thank You”, the songs somber melodic tone creates a theatrical experience for the listener. The song was another international hit for Eminem, claiming the#1 spot in twelve countries and won Best International Artist Video at the MuchMusic Video Awards.
#3 The Real Slim Shady – The Marshall Mathers LP
As the first single for Eminem’s third album, “The Real Slim Shady” set the record straight as who the number one white rapper in the game was. Naturally as a byproduct of his success, Eminem had to deal with both imitators and impostors sullying his name. There had been both a rise in white rap in the Midwest and a surge of young white american’s taking Eminem’s violent message literally. With this record, Eminem again defined who he was as both a persona and an artists given listeners an authentic picture of who and what Slim Shady actually is. The song peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, #1 on the Euro Hot 100, #1 in Canada, and #1 in the UK. The track also won the Grammy for Best Solo Rap Performance in 2001.
#2 Without Me – The Eminem Show
During the height of his career, it was hard to picture the rap game without his influence. His videos were clouded the airwaves, his singles bombarded the radio, and his image began to concentrate the streets as fans began to bleach their hair and wear baggy white tees at every occasion. “Without Me” quickly became an international anthem of the Hip Hop white boy. The song peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was his highest ranking single to date. The single was also nominated for Record of the Year at the 2003 Grammy’s and claimed the #1 spot on the music charts of 16 countries.
#1 Lose Yourself – 8 Mile
With the #1 spot in 21 countries, two Grammy’s (Best Rap Song and Best Solo Rap Performance), an Academy Award (Best Original Song), and over 15 million copies sold, it is obvious that “Lose Yourself” is Eminem’s biggest single. As the theme song to his pseudo-bio pic 8 Mile (which made 242.9 million in box office), “Lose Yourself” tells the story of someone with a goal in mind that they will do anything to achieve. As one of his more motivational tracks it is easy to see it’s appeal. The song has been used in countless add campaigns, television shows, and even films other than 8 Mile.
From everyone here at The Source Magazine and TheSource.com, Happy Birthday Eminem. May you see many more years of ridiculous success.