Discography Check: Eminem

By @TrueGodImmortal

One of the most prolific artists of our time is Marshall Matters, better known as the incomparable Eminem. We don't discuss him often on DAR, but we've mentioned him a few times on the site before. He's a legend, one of the more gifted lyricists of our time, and one of the first white rappers to break the usual stigma placed upon them. While many have criticized Em, his status as a hip hop legend can't be denied. Today, I wanted to look at his catalog, which has been under scrunity for some years now by many, and see how his discography holds up. Let's get into it.

*Infinite (1996)

-The underground album that introduced the world to Em is surprisingly a solid work of art lyrically. Lyrically, this is one of his most concise projects ever and you can tell he was hungry at the time. My biggest knock is on the production, which was handled by Mr. Porter, and it's not that the production is necessarily bad, it just feels flat. However, given the fact that this was the beginning of both careers, one can forgive the small production issues. Tracks like "Open Mic", "Searchin", "Never 2 Far", and a few others show Em at his best lyrically and his most raw. Infinite isn't a classic, but it's an enjoyable retrospective listen for sure.

*The Slim Shady EP (1997)

-While this isn't my favorite Eminem project, it marked a change over for him as he switched his flow and some of his style to take on a more darker role and darker imagery in his lyrics. I won't say much about this EP, but it is enjoyable for what it is. Em used this album to escape his reality and it turned out pretty well for the transition he was going for. Songs like "Low Down, Dirty", "No One's Iller", and "Murder, Murder" helped showcase the new focus and different flow from Em and set the tone for what was to come in his career.

*The Slim Shady LP (1999)

-The mainstream arrival of Eminem. After the success of his Slim Shady EP, he turns it into a full length LP that shows the more aggressive lyricism and a bit of the shock value centered side of Em. Many love this album, and while I enjoy a majority of the songs, it hasn't aged considerably well. The production is clearly right for the time (for better or worse) and lyrically Em is Em, but the shock value of this album lyrically and some of the songs don't connect for me. Still, that aside, I enjoy the tracks like the Dr. Dre featured "Guilty Conscience", "Role Model", "Brain Damage", and "Rock Bottom". The songs that don't work here aren't really that bad either, but I'm not as fond of the Bass Brothers production, so that's also a slight issue. However, while SSLP isn't my personal favorite, it's still a good album that I'm sure the average Em fan sees as a near classic or a full fledged classic.

*The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)

-His highest selling and most infamous album is one of my favorites and an album that I have no issue with it being called a classic. The worst thing about Em and his music that it hasn't aged too well, but there are a few projects that did. This is one of them. The reason being might be the fact that Dr. Dre produced a good amount of the album, which is an improvement from the Bass Brothers production that dominated his official debut. The album being dominated by the Dre sound makes the Bass Brothers step their game up, and it all flows perfectly. Lyrically, Em is at his absolute best, spitting some of his greatest verses and crafting some of his greatest songs. Tracks like "Who Knew", "Stan", "The Way I Am", "Bitch Please II", "Kim", and "Criminal" are all landmark tracks in Eminem's career and they come from this classic album.

*D12- Devil's Night (2001)

-The very first album introduction to the group that helped shape Eminem as an artist deserves a mention. I wasn't the biggest fan of D12, but I remember giving this album a listen and enjoying some of it. Some of the songs and lyrics weren't for me, but I couldn't deny the dope sound that came from "Fight Music" and "Pistol Pistol", but I could do without tracks like "Purple Pills" and "Pimp Like Me". This is a solid middle of the road project that would benefit from having the tracklist cut down a little bit. Still, of the two D12 albums, this is easily the better one.

*The Eminem Show (2002)

-Of all his solo albums, this is my personal favorite. It's the closest we get to seeing the truth behind the troubled soul that is Eminem and he does it with more honesty and slight growth at times. What made this album a sign of growth was the challenge that Em took on to handle a bulk of the production. It's never easy for an artist to craft an album that they have the bulk of the production on, but this was a successful effort. There is a consistency and cohesion in this album that hasn't been heard in an Eminem album since and throughout the tracklist, we get the most candid version of Eminem ever. The best tracks here are "Sing For The Moment", the honest yet comedic "Superman", the soul cleansing "Cleanin' Out My Closet", "White America", "Soldier", "When The Music Stops", and of course the Nate Dogg featured "Till I Collapse". The Eminem Show gave us the best of Em and his realest project of them all.

*8 Mile Soundtrack (2002)

-One of the greatest soundtracks of the 2000s features a solid amount of good Eminem verses and songs along with some other artists featured as well here. The soundtrack showcases other legends like Rakim, Nas, and Jay-Z, and gives a little more insight for Shady Records artists like a young Obie Trice and the newly signed 50 Cent. This was one of the more enjoyable nostalgic listens when looking at Em's catalog, and with songs like "Love Me", "Lose Yourself", "8 Mile", "Rabbit Run", "Places To Go", and more, this project has more than enough great music on it to make any hip hop fan happy.

*D12- D12 World (2004)

-This album was interesting. In a bad way and a good way. I was a fan of the best lyricists in this group, as they all can rap well, but making music is a different animal clearly. The production here was a bit more upbeat than their first project, but this was still missing something. Lyrically, while this album isn't as dark as the first, it is a bit more comedic, and while that should work, it doesn't. Another glaring issue? There's not enough Eminem on this album. He is featured a decent amount, but is missing from a lot of key tracks, which is a bit of a letdown. Mr. Porter, Proof, Swift, Kuniva, and Bizarre are all good rappers, but nothing sticks out on this album. Perhaps the album would have benefited from more Em verses, but the songs just aren't cutting it here. Production varies, which is different from the first album, as Red Spyda, Kanye West, Dr. Dre, and Hi-Tek help to diversify the sound some, but the songs themselves aren't disappointing. The title track, "Just Like U", and "How Come" are dope tracks here to listen to.

*Encore (2004)

-Here's the truth. After a string of solid albums, Em suffered a bit of a falloff that is hard to pinpoint the origin of. Lyrically, he was still as amazing as he had ever been, but the novelty of the subject matter had worn off now.  It was as if the fanbase had begun to grow up and wanted more from Em, the likes of which made Eminem Show and 8 Mile more accepted by the hip hop crowd. However, this album flirts with the personal side of things that Em has always had in his music but adds a political element as well to mixed results. The biggest downfall here however is the songs that aren't serious at all and the production at times. He gets personal and raw on top tier tracks like "Mockingbird", "Mosh", the excellent "Like Toy Soldiers", and a personal favorite "Spend Some Time" featuring 50 Cent, Stat Quo, and Obie Trice, but loses me with the abundance of cringeworthy tracks like "Just Lose It", "Ass Like That", "Rain Man", "Puke", and the absolutely awful "Big Weenie". Yes, I know these type of songs have always been a part of Em's albums, but these are ridiculously immature and despite the rebellious teenage fanbase loving these tracks, they're truly awful. Encore has flashes of brilliance, but can't quite over the hump and ends up being dragged down by the unnecessary.  

*Eminem Presents The Re-Up (2006)

-This was more of a compilation than an Eminem album, but it was one of the more enjoyable projects released from Shady Records during the late 2000s honestly. With a ton of Shady Records artists like Cashis, Stat Quo, Bobby Creekwater, Obie Trice, and of course D-12, alongside the G-Unit squad's 50 Cent and Lloyd Banks, this project had some solid songs. With production from The Alchemist, Dr. Dre, Mr. Porter, and Eminem himself, songs like "We're Back", "You Don't Know", "The Re-Up", and my personal favorite "No Apologies" helped to round out an enjoyable project that showed Em still had something in the tank and he had an army behind him.

*Relapse (2009)

-Seen by many as his comeback album, this was far from what it was believed to be. It was a return to the Slim Shady persona for Em, but was it necessary? It honestly felt like the return of Slim Shady was a bit forced, but IMO the best moments on this particular album come from Em's struggle. After some of his rare enjoyable shock value and darker laced lyricism on tracks like "3 AM" and "Insane", the album takes a bit of fall until the surprisingly solid 2nd half of the album, which shows Em at his honest best. In depth songs like "Stay Wide Awake", "Underground", "Beautiful" (which is a little cheesy but still dope), and my favorite "Deja Vu" allow Em to settle into his comfort zone musically and lyrically and the production for "Deja Vu" is one of the best beats that he's used on one of his albums IMO. While many disliked this album, and I understand why, the 2nd half of the album is the best music that Eminem has released since The Eminem Show.

*Recovery (2010)

-While many people love this album, I'm not really in that category, as I felt this was ACTUALLY a step down from the lyrical output of Relapse. It felt as if Em made better songs on this album, but in reality, they were just more pop orientated, something that went against what Slim Shady stood for all these years. Still, that aside, this album feels uninspired to me, and almost as if he released it quickly due to the bad reception from Relapse, and while this was a commercially successful project, I haven't revisited it much since it first came out. Tracks like the Pink featured "Won't Back Down", the first single "Not Afraid", the Rihanna featured "Love The Way You Lie", and the Lil Wayne featured "No Love" are high energy and favorites for the mainstream, but those songs don't do much for me. I prefer the tracks like "Cold Wind Blows", "Talkin 2 Myself", "Going Through Changes", and "25 To Life", but even some of those feel by the numbers on this album. I get the need to make pop orientated tracks as his career evolved, but Em just doesn't execute these as well, which is why this is an album I prefer to not revisit. It is decent overall, but the low points are very low and takes away from the overall quality.

*Bad Meets Evil- Hell: The Sequel (2011)

-When Eminem and Royce Da 5'9 rap together, they bring out the best in each other. With this EP, it's unknown what they were aiming for, but lyrically, neither man disappoints at all. The production here is actually solid as well, with contributions from Sid Roams, DJ Khalil, Bangladesh, and Havoc, giving a varied sound. Tracks like "Above The Law", "I'm On Everything", and "Welcome To Hell" show that neither Royce nor Eminem had lost a step and if you listen to the actual deluxe edition of this project, it's actually more of an album than EP. Regardless if it's an album or EP, it's a good listen and one of the few projects with Em that I've enjoyed some over the last 10 years.

*The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013)

-There's a time and a place for a sequel. This was not the time nor the place. While the usual group of fans go crazy over Eminem and his lyrics on a single like "Rap God", the truth is this album is hard to listen to and get through. As a fan of Em and his music during his prime, I give every new album of his a listen and I might go back and enjoy some of his music currently, but this is one of those albums that I just will not revisit. It's not horrible however and while his lyrical abilities will never leave, his ability to craft concise and great songs are hit and miss these days. Perhaps he just isn't that inspired or perhaps he doesn't want to wander too far off from what we know and loved about him. Whatever the case may be, this album does nothing for me as a listener. It doesn't live up to the hype of a MMLP edition and if he titled this something different, maybe I would have received the album better. Production here is somewhat better than Recovery, but there are still the cringeworthy commercial songs like another Rihanna collab "The Monster" (I know that this song get a pass because it was successful, but it just wasn't good IMO), "Asshole", "Legacy", and the oddly executed "Rhyme Or Reason" (nice sample however). The songs I do enjoy here, like "Bad Guy", "Survival", "Brainless", "Wicked Ways", and "Evil Twin" are tracks that feel like Em at his best and the production works. There are rock and country elements here in some of the tracks too, which brings the album down, not because of the elements themselves, but just how they were executed. MMLP2 is a decent album, but isn't one to revisit. I'm sure the diehard Em fans would say otherwise, but MMLP2 just isn't it.

There are rumors of a new Em album coming, with Dr. Dre working on it, and rumors of an Em and 2 Chainz song, so there is a chance we get a new Eminem album sooner than later. What type of Eminem album will we get next? Hopefully one that is full of the passion he had earlier in his career. Either that, or we get more Rihanna records. Either or. Time will tell.



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