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Eminem's Top 8 Albums Ranked Worst to Best

Sharp Points says, "Here's ten cents, my two cents is free. A nuisance, who sent? You sent for me."

Eminem released 11 solo albums between 1996 and 2020.

Eminem released 11 solo albums between 1996 and 2020.

Eminem's Best Albums

Eminem has released 11 solo albums since 1996, and those records have sold more copies than any other rapper—by far. More than Tupac Shakur, more than Kanye West. In fact, here are the top five rap artists by total record sales.

1. Eminem – 227 million units sold
2. Drake – 152 million units sold
3. Kanye West – 140 million units sold
4. Jay-Z – 125 million units sold
5. Lil Wayne – 110 million units sold

It's not even close. The fact that he's sold more than Jay-Z and Lil Wayne COMBINED is saying something.

The Great Eight

So, what are Eminem's best albums? I've narrowed it down to a top 8. Let's investigate them one by one.

Eminem - "Infinite"

Eminem - "Infinite"

8. Infinite (1996)

Eminem's first album originally had only 1,000 copies pressed. Some of those copies were sold by Marshall out of the trunk of his car. Infinite was Marshall polishing his lyrical ability while attempting to find his own style. He was compared to AZ and Nas, which isn't the worst comparison to have, but rappers want to stand on their own.

These criticisms and remarks from others were a large part of what sparked the flame inside of him. All of his anger and frustrations were getting funneled into raw rap energy. Of course, I am speaking of the events that led to the formation of his notorious alter ego, Slim Shady.

Infinite was almost entirely produced by fellow D12 member, Mr. Porter. The title track is the best song on the record in my opinion, but overall it was a valiant first effort from a hungry MC. You can definitely feel the raw talent bubbling under.

  • "Infinite" – A very lyrical song shows Em at his earliest stages trying to find his own unique sound. He has no problem spitting some intricate multiple syllable rhymes as he murders the instrumental despite attempting to repent from similar past events.
  • "313" – An ode to his hometown of Detroit, specifically the part covered by the 313 area code.
  • "It's OK" – A nice and happy song, the type most people aren't used to hearing from him. Extremely optimistic and positive, it would be a long time before we heard a song like this from him again.
Eminem - "Encore"

Eminem - "Encore"

7. Encore (2004)

Many consider Encore to be the worst of Eminem's solo projects. It definitely wasn't up to par with his first three major label releases. It's not a bad album by any means, but two things gave listeners a lasting impression of this one.

  1. It came right after The Eminem Show. That's an extremely hard act to follow.
  2. The singles are better than the actual album. Songs like "Just Lose It" and "Ass Like That" are solid, but there's a big drop-off after that.

Shady was having fun with this album. In 2017, Eminem told Vulture:

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"I’m cool with probably half (of Encore). I recorded that towards the height of my addiction. I remember four songs leaked and I had to go to L.A. and get (Dr.) Dre and record new ones. I was in a room by myself writing songs in 25-30 minutes because we had to get it done, and what came out was so goofy. That’s how I ended up making songs like “Rain Man” and “Big Weenie.” They're pretty out there. If those other songs hadn't leaked, Encore would’ve been a different album."

Although it may not be on the same caliber as most of his releases, there are some hidden gems on it.

  • "Never Enough" (featuring Nate Dogg & 50 Cent)An aggressive and lyrical showing from Eminem and 50 Cent. They are describing their addiction to hip-hop supremacy. At the time, they were the reigning champs.
  • "Curtains Down" (featuring Dr. Dre) A great way to close out the album with Marshall's guru, Dre.
  • "Spend Some Time" (featuring Obie Trice, 50 Cent, & Stat Quo) A song about women and the powerful grip they can have on a man's heart.
  • "Crazy In Love" A ballad of betrayal and deceptive behavior between a man and a woman who are "crazy in love."

Encore Accolades

  • RIAA Certified: 5x Platinum
  • Grammy Awards: Nominated for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Performance by a Duo, and Best Rap Solo Performance.
Eminem - "The Marshall Mathers LP 2"

Eminem - "The Marshall Mathers LP 2"

6. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013)

The sequel to what many consider Em's best album was an incredible project. Did it come anywhere near the first installment? Well, no. Shady tries to recapture the emotion he poured into MMLP, but it's impossible. Not because he has gotten worse. In fact, his lyrical ability was sharper than ever.

MMLP was a manifestation of his rapid rise to stardom. Just a year earlier he was spending the day figuring out how to get diapers for his baby daughter. He had the raw hunger of an unknown emcee. And being White meant he constantly had to prove himself. It's easy to forget that when Em was coming up, only the Beastie Boys had reached the top of the rap game with any kind of credibility.

MMLP2 was unable to recreate the original context because his life was so much different. His work ethic was still unmatched, he was more mature, and technically, he was a better rapper. But, MMLP caught lightning in a bottle. That's why I believe creating a sequel was a mistake. You can't help but compare MMLP2 to the first installment, and in that respect it's a disappointment.

  • "Legacy" – Shady going over his life and career and dropping a lovely hook to complement the melodic piano.
  • "Wicked Ways" – Another track with Marshall reflecting on his career. It also marks the return of Ken Kaniff from Connecticut, last seen on Relapse.
  • "Love Game" (featuring Kendrick Lamar) – Kendrick is the only other rap artist on MMLP2. "Love Game" has them expressing their love for women and their failed attempts to escape said love game.
  • "Brainless" – Probably the most lyrical song on MMLP2, Em proclaims that despite mental health issues, he worked to became famous.

The Marshall Mathers LP 2 Accolades

  • RIAA Certified: 4x Platinum
  • Billboard Music Awards: Best Rap Album
Eminem - "Relapse: Refill"

Eminem - "Relapse: Refill"

5. Relapse: Refill (2009)

Marshall's drug addiction kept him from releasing a solo album for nearly five years. Between 2004 and 2009, nobody heard a thing from Em. No albums, no EPs, no videos, nothing. Somehow, incredibly, he was awarded with Billboard's "Artist of the Decade" award. Did you read that!? Artist of the Decade and he took HALF the decade off!

Wow.

Relapse was the result of Eminem relearning rap music—and every other part of life—this time sober. Most songs were basically Shady telling horror stories; he just tells them in a very lyrical way. With the exception of a couple tracks, most songs are pretty good.

I wasn't a big fan of his singles, although "Beautiful" was, well, beautiful. Overall, if you include Refill, it is a pretty solid project.

  • "Déjà Vu" – Hands down the best track on Relapse. Eminem addresses his addiction and the death of his closest friend, Proof. It might be the most vulnerable, powerful track in the Eminem catalog.
  • "Underground" – The closing track is similar to "Still Don't Give A F**k" and "Criminal," specifically the start of the song. "A lot of people ask me..."
  • "Same Song & Dance" – A horrorcore hip hop classic, Shady describes the way he would kidnap and murder certain celebrities..
  • "Hell Breaks Loose" – Another classic track where Dre and Shady spit back and forth over a dope beat.

Relapse + Refill Accolades

  • RIAA Certified: 3x Platinum
  • Grammy Awards: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group ("Crack a Bottle")
Eminem - "Recovery"

Eminem - "Recovery"

4. Recovery (2010)

Originally titled Relapse 2, the title was later changed to Recovery. Em felt that the music recorded for it was entirely different than its predecessor.

He was not wrong for feeling that way, saying:

"I originally planned for Relapse 2 to come out last year. But, as I kept recording and working with new producers, the idea of a sequel to Relapse started to make less and less sense to me, and I wanted to make a completely new album. The music on Recovery came out very different from Relapse, and I think it deserves its own title."

Rather than his usual formula of mostly in-house production, this album features a variety of producers. The standard album features only one other rap artist: Lil' Wayne. He worked with pop artists Rihanna and Pink, along with R&B artist Kobe. This was unusual at the time because pop stars were typically Em's targets. It turned out to be a good decision.

"Love The Way You Lie" is his best-selling single to date, and has spawned two more songs with Rihanna. This includes a cut from MMLP2 titled "The Monster," which was also huge. The music videos to those two songs have over a billion views on YouTube. Two songs!

Many critics and fans don't like Recovery. I personally think it's amazing, inspirational, and complete. It's comparable to his first three major releases as opposed to his previous two solo projects.

  • "Won't Back Down" (featuring Pink) – A fun song where Eminem performs lyrical acrobatics over an electric guitar.
  • "Cold Wind Blows" – A vicious intro to the album. Em is not pleased with the way he is welcomed back into the rap game.
  • "You're Never Over" – A beautiful tribute to D12 member, and Marshall's best friend, Proof.
  • "Session One" (featuring Slaughterhouse) – An upbeat, lyrical, fun, and just all around dope song featuring the super group Slaughterhouse before he signed them to his label.
  • "25 To Life" – Em speaks on his relationship with the rap game as if it was a woman, in fact until the end a first time listener would assume that it was about a female. Very powerful and emotional track.
  • "Talkin' To Myself" – Marshall opens up about what was going through his mind during his five year hiatus from the rap game. He vividly paints the picture of his struggles with the help of Kobe singing the hook. Such an amazing song.

Recovery Accolades

  • RIAA Certified: 8x Platinum
  • Grammy Awards: Best Rap Album
  • Billboard Music Awards: Top Billboard 200 Album and Top Rap Album
  • Billboard Magazine: #93 on "Top 200 Albums of All Time"

Just Don't Give A Fuck

"I remember getting mad. I was like, “I’m gonna rap like I don’t care anymore. F**k it.” I started to write angry songs like “Just Don’t Give a F**k.”

— Eminem recalling his reaction to the way that critics described him on "Infinite"

Eminem - "The Slim Shady LP"

Eminem - "The Slim Shady LP"

3. The Slim Shady LP (1999)

Raw, uncut, Slim Shady. Em's major label debut was his only album to not peak at #1, instead peaking at a mere #2. Some of the verses on the Slim Shady EP are recorded onto The Slim Shady LP as well, just over different instrumentals. For example, "Just The Two Of Us" was later renamed "'97 Bonnie & Clyde."

This album was Marshall's introduction to the world. He clearly had a mastery of lyrical ability from his first release onward. This would be a great peak for any other rapper, but instead he topped it just a year later.

The album ranges from serious songs of financial woes, to dark songs where the listener can clearly visualize his story. A ton of his trademark dark wit and humor is sprinkled in between a set of tracks containing a few very depressing stories. It's the first truly complete album from Eminem.

  • "Bad Meets Evil" (featuring Royce Da 5'9) – A self-titled track from the rap duo Bad Meets Evil. Shady and Royce both show off their lyrical ability. Their rap styles match together and transition between one another flawlessly.
  • "Guilty Conscience" (featuring Dr. Dre) – An incredible concept song where Dr. Dre tries to convince the character not to go through with the illegal actions they are considering. As the devil on the opposite shoulder, Shady plays the antagonist attempting to convince them not to do as Dre suggests.
  • "Role Model" – A remarkable instrumental has Eminem explaining why he is the perfect role model (sarcastically, of course.)
  • "Still Don't Give a F**k" – Shady reminds us all that he still does not give a ... hoot?

The Slim Shady LP Accolades

  • RIAA Certified: 6x Platinum
  • Rolling Stone Magazine: #33 on "100 Best Albums of the '90s"
  • Rolling Stone Magazine: #352 on "500 Greatest Albums of All Time"
  • Grammy Awards: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Solo Performance ("My Name Is")
Eminem - "The Marshall Mathers LP"

Eminem - "The Marshall Mathers LP"

2. The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)

Marshall Mathers' autobiography is widely considered his best work. He's an open book, using rap to tell his story and express his frustrations. Not only is it very deep and personal, it's funny as hell.

If The Slim Shady LP was a showcase of his raw lyrical ability, TMMLP was that and Marshall opening up to the world about his struggles. He vents his frustrations with fans, other artists, friends, family, his woman, and the label. It was Eminem versus the world. Well, good news. He won!

In a 2019 interview with the NME, Eminem admitted that this album is his masterpiece:

"Ima keep it 100% honest. I feel like—and I’ve felt like this for a long time—I’ve always been chasing The Marshall Mathers LP. Because I know that captured a moment, you know what I’m saying? It’s kind of like a time capsule, when I look back at it. When people say they miss the old Eminem, I feel like it’s probably that. You miss the rage. I don’t have the rage anymore that I used to have but I still have the exact same passion."

  • "Stan" (featuring Dido) – One of his most well-known songs is the story of an obsessed fan. Stan grows more and more displeased with Marshall not responding to his letters, so he takes matters into his own hands.
  • "Marshall Mathers" – A mellow yet aggressive track, Marshall talks about how life changes once reaching stardom especially at such a quick pace. He also responds to a diss track from ICP with two very powerful lines.
  • "The Way I Am" – Shady expresses his frustration with the record industry, the media, and pushy fans.
  • "B**ch Please II" (featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg & Xzibit) – Four legends, one track. This one is a good one, just like every other Dr. Dre and Eminem collaboration.

The Marshall Mathers LP Accolades

  • RIAA Certified: Diamond (11× Platinum)
  • Rolling Stone Magazine: #7 on "100 Best Albums of the 2000s"
  • Rolling Stone Magazine: #145 on "500 Greatest Albums of All Time
  • Grammy Awards: "Best Rap Album" and Best Rap Solo Performance ("The Real Slim Shady")
  • 1.76 million albums sold in first week: 4th fastest selling album in the U.S. since Nielsen SoundScan tracking began on March 1, 1991

Songs like “White America” and “Cleanin' Out My Closet,” those aren’t really Shady. So I thought, “I’m going to call this album, 'The Eminem Show.'" This is me as the rapper, not as the character.

— Eminem via Rap Genius

Eminem - "The Eminem Show"

Eminem - "The Eminem Show"

1. The Eminem Show (2002)

The Eminem Show is not a concept album, per se, but the tracks flow together effortlessly as Em raps about living life in the public eye. In a way, it was the rap equivalent of reality TV at a time when reality TV was at a peak. As Tom Breihand noted recently in Stereogum:

"In a time before social media, Eminem’s whole narrative was the stuff of tabloids, and he could only frame his own story by rapping about it. So he did. A lot. Too much, probably. Part of the Eminem sales pitch, from the very beginning, was that he had no filter."

The Eminem Show's subject matter ranges from his influence on suburban youth to promiscuous women to love for his daughter to industry beefs. Highlights include an incredibly uplifting and triumphant track with Nate Dogg, an ode to lunacy with guest vocals from his daughter, a call-and-response track with Dre, and of course a silly song like "Without Me," which continued a trend set by "My Name Is" and continued with "The Real Slim Shady."

  • "Till' I Collapse" (featuring Nate Dogg) – One of his best songs ever. Excellent song to play at the gym.
  • "Square Dance" – A shot at Canibus has Slim spitting fire and tearing that beat apart.
  • "Sing for the Moment" – A beautiful song has him lashing back at critics who said he was an unfit father. Very passionate piece.
  • "When the Music Stops" (featuring D12) – In his 2008 memoir, The Way I Am, Eminem says that "When the Music Stops" features one of his favorite Proof verses ever. "When the Uzi pop, you better drop when the music stop."
  • "Say What You Say" (featuring Dr. Dre) – Em and Dre respond to their recent beef with Jermaine Dupri, even bringing in producer Timbaland for a cameo at the end of the song.

The Eminem Show Accolades

  • RIAA Certified: Diamond (12x Platinum)
  • Rolling Stone Magazine: #317 on "500 Greatest Albums of All Time"
  • Rolling Stone Magazine: #84 on "100 Best Albums of the 2000s"
  • Grammy Awards: Best Rap Album and Best Music Video ("Without Me")
  • MTV Video Music Awards: Best Male Video, Video of the Year, Best Direction, and Best Rap Video
  • Billboard Music Awards: Album of the Year and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album

Comments

Alexander on September 22, 2017:

1.- The Marshall Mathers LP.

(Best songs: The Way I Am, Marshall Mathers, I'm Back.)

2.- The Slim Shady LP.

(Best songs: Role Model, Rock Bottem, Guilty Conscience.)

3.- The Eminem Show.

(Best songs: Sing For The Moment, Cleanin' Out My Closet, Till' I Collapse.)

4.- The Marshall Mathers LP 2.

(Best songs: The Monster, So Far..., So Much Better.)

5.- Recovery.

(Best songs: Space Bound, Cold Wind Blows, No Love.)

6.- Encore.

(Best songs: Mockingbird, We As Americans, Yellow Brick Road.)

7.- Relapse + Refill.

(Best songs: Beautiful, Forever, Underground.)

8.- Infinite.

(Best songs: Infinite, It's OK, 313.)

Angel Guzman from Joliet, Illinois on September 11, 2017:

Great article! Big fan of Eminem and so disappointed I didn't stay and listen to Lollapalooza set when I had the chance.

Shawn on July 12, 2017:

1) MMLP pure influence classic

2) Eminem show classic

3) Slim shady lp classic

4) relapse classic

5) mmlp2 great

6) recovery great

7) Infinite since he improved as an artist and developed his own sound

8) Encore still like some tracks but was embarrising flop eminem show wit it

Jacob on June 17, 2017:

Where is curtain call?

J Paul on May 06, 2017:

1. The MMLP

2. Eminem Show

3. The SSLP

4. Relapse

5. Recovery

6. Encore

7. The MMLP2

8. Infinite

Why is everyone putting Recovery at number 1?

Scott robinson on April 20, 2017:

If I had to pick my favorites in order

1. Recovery

Best track: and my favourite song out

of all songs in world is: I'm not afraid

2. Eminem show

Best track: sing for the moment

3. Marshall matters lp2

Best track: bezerk

4. Encore

best track: my 1st single

5. Relapse

Best track: stay wide awake

6. Marshall mathers lp

Best track: kill you

7: slim shady lp

Best track: guilty conscience

JJ1234 on March 24, 2017:

My fav Eminem Albums:

5: Encore

Best Track: Mockingbird

4: Relapse

Best Track: Beautiful

3: Slim Shady LP

Best Track: If I had

2:The Eminem Show

Best Track: Til I Collaspe

1:Marshall Mathers LP

Best Track: Stan

Marko on December 27, 2016:

1. Slim Shady LP (My favorite Eminem song is on this album JDGAF i consider it a masterpiece.)

2. Marshall Mathers LP(I adore this album it has Stan,I'm Back.The Way i Am,piles of controversy just how we like it,greatly combined,awesome beats.I'm lost for words)

3. The Eminem Show(I don't like this album that much just because it has a mix-up of other genres like rock,pop,etc.It still one of the best classics today.)

4.Marshall Mathers LP 2(I love this album it has Bad Guy,Brainless,Headlights i think it can go by as a good sequel to MMLP cause it shows the mature side of Em but still goes back to its roots)

5.Relapse(I don't know why people hate this album it has great lyrics,it has great songs like Deja Vu,Beautiful shows us different sides of Em,again throwing it back to our favorite alter ego Slim Shady :). )

6.Recovery(I get that it was after he went trough rehab but it doesn't have that Eminem click,appeal to me,IMO.)

7.ENCORE(Too bad that songs like My 1st Single,Puke throw this album in the trashcan,it really had the material to be one of the greatest Em has ever put out,Yellow Brick Road,Mosh,Mockingbird,Like Toy Soldiers,it was a good disaster if i can express myself like that..?)

8.Infinite(Earliest of his work it's not a bad album just not matching the caliber Eminem has put out later in his career.)

Gary myrie on August 14, 2016:

MMLP2 is his best album since tes in my opinion sure relapse is starting to get praise along with recovery but mmlp2 is his best reviewed and still put eminem as a hot selling artist 800,000 units sold in its first week what and #1 album what

Luke on July 04, 2016:

1: The Eminem Show (best song: White America)

2: The Marshall Mathers LP (best song: The Way I Am)

3: The Slim Shady LP (best song: Rock Bottom)

4: The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (best song: Evil Twin)

5: Recovery (best song: No Love)

6: Infinite (best song: Infinite)

7: Relapse (best song: Same Song & Dance)

8: Encore (best song: Mockingbird)

Lancie Herald on July 02, 2016:

Bit late to the party, but glad to find another Em fan, and a great writeup that I enjoyed reading through! He was so different on Infinite it's kinda nuts.

Funny that you put "The Way I Am" as a recommended listening song. I agree with you that it's really raw and honest - there's a sense of bared nerves in that song - but it was one of the ones that turned me off from him before I gave his music a proper shot, just because the chorus rhymed the same words with each other. I was not a patient listener back then...

Stan on June 02, 2016:

1.Recovery

2.MMLP2

3.Eminem Show

4..MMLP

5.Relapse

6.SSLP

7.Encore

REcovery is best for me :)

Sharp Points (author) from Big Bear Lake, California on April 07, 2016:

Tou·ché Anonymous.

tefomogwe on April 04, 2016:

Well, not a bad list and I actually agree with the list... it suits my taste on Em's music as classified

Anonymous on March 26, 2016:

"A complete album with not one bad moment, the tracks flow effortlessly together."

Drips?

joshsmith on January 09, 2016:

lol at the end the most voted for album is tes

Chuck Broug on December 14, 2015:

& NOW Ladies & Gents its time for the REAL LIST:

1.) Eminem Show (This album has everything)

2.)MMLP (This album has almost everything)

3.MMLP2 (This album is pretty equal with the original)

4.)Recovery ("Space Bound" & "Love The Way You Lie" are some of the greatest love songs ever written)

5.)Relapse (This album makes the top 5 just because of the song "Beautiful" that song is a masterpiece

6.)Infinite (The Most lyrical album of the 90's)

7.)SSLP (I kno its a classic but after hearing this a couple times it gets kinda tiring & starts to sound corny especially the beats & other than "Rock Bottom", this album dont have any songs for your mood . Nothing deep nothing emotional the whole album is mainly comical)

8.Encore (Fuck this album for real)

Scott on August 29, 2015:

Id rank them

1. MMLP

2. SSLP

3. Relapse

4. TES

5. MMLP2

6. Recovery

7. Encore

I don't consider Infinite an actual album.

Sharp Points (author) from Big Bear Lake, California on April 27, 2015:

Thank you for reading! I love Recovery as well. Was a very complete album and Em was very passionate about his return.

Dinesh from Delhi on April 27, 2015:

Nice hub, Recovery is one of my favorite.

Sharp Points (author) from Big Bear Lake, California on April 15, 2015:

Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment! I appreciate it, and thanks for the feedback as well.

Buildreps from Europe on April 15, 2015:

Great Hub, Sharp Points. You provide great information about Eminem. I love Eminem! Although I'm not the average guy to like someone like Eminem. Nice collection of vid's. I like "The Way I Am" most of all.

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