Eminem found his initial success in controversy due to his transgressive lyrics, music videos and attitude. People claimed him to be hateful of many minorities, but through all that controversial attention he found boundless success. Despite his reputation, he also became the face of underclass America due to including lyrics in his music about struggling to look after his family and raise his daughter.
Slim Shady, Eminem’s aggressive and sadistic alter ego, was the proud center stage for all his controversial acts. It was also via his act as Slim Shady that he was discovered by Interscope Records, and within that same company, Dr. Dre. What started as Eminem working with someone he looked up to ended up as a long lasting partnership of music production and friendship between the two of them.
Eminem came onto the scene a whole decade after CDs had overtaken vinyl records, but pleasantly, there are still vinyl versions of his albums! With that being said, we’re going to have a look at Eminem’s discography. The hip-hop legend absolutely deserves to be heard in the unmatched quality of vinyl records.
Infinite, Eminem’s very first studio album that he recorded independently… Flopped at the time of its release. It is said to have only sold 70 copies. However, this was before Eminem was found by Interscope and by Dr. Dre. This was before Slim Shady had been thought up. This album was a real, heartfelt look into the struggles of Eminem’s life. The stress of raising his newborn daughter on a minimum wage job. Heavily inspired by rappers before him, like Nas and AZ, he was still finding his own voice and feet.
Despite poor performance at the time, people have come to appreciate this album to the point of vinyl copies being particularly sought after. With it having sold so poorly at the time, not too many were made, especially first pressings of this record are likely very valuable to the right person. “It’s O.K” is a particularly emotional and underrated track, though the only track available anywhere else is the title track “Infinite”, as it was later digitally remastered and released.
The Slim Shady LP (1999)
The first record to come out of Eminem being discovered by Interscope Records and by Dr. Dre. After The Slim Shady EP, the first LP that screened Slim Shady in all his anger, violence and crudeness. “My Name Is” released with this album and as a single, as well as “97 Bonnie & Clyde” which depicts Eminem convincing his young daughter to dispose of his wife’s corpse and “Bad Meets Evil”, which would become the name that he and Royce da 5’9”, who collaborated with him on this song, and “Guilty Conscience” which received heavy criticism for several reasons.
Without a doubt, this album is ferocious. The image it painted of the man behind his cartoonishly violent alter ego is what threw him into fame so quickly. His anger and violence struck many as offensive against several different groups of people, such as women and the LGTB+ community. Despite most of the lyrics being satire, there is genuine anger within them regarding living in the poverty of minimum wage work while trying to raise a child. While certainly not for the faint of heart, this album is one of the best selling not just of its genre, but of all time. It’s absolutely worth the crisp vinyl sound to hear Slim Shady at his absolute most unhinged.
The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Another LP produced largely by Eminem and Dr. Dre in collaboration. Slim Shady returns as the aggressive persona he established himself as, still creating controversy that had people accusing Eminem of being misogynistic, homophobic and advocating violence. Still, the album performed exceptionally well, and was received with massive praise upon its release. “The Real Slim Shady” was a standout popular single from this album, in which Shady mocks plenty of celebrities such as Britney Spears, Fred Durst, Christina Agulera and makes some ludicrous accusations of them, as well as stating that he had killed his own producer, Dr. Dre. Dre found it funny and wanted to let Eminem get as crazy as he wished, to entertain their listeners.
Overall the album features a lot less of Slim Shady’s anger and violence. It’s still there and still creates the shock it needs to, but the album has much more of an insight on the real person, Marshall Mathers. It touches on very personal issues like his upbringing by his single mother, the hypocritical criticism of his violent lyrics, pressure to maintain his momentum and fame, drug addiction and his difficult relationship with his wife. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when Shady or Marshall have taken the mic, but that’s just one one of the charms of Eminem.
The Eminem Show (2002)
The next step in Eminem’s career saw another step away from the overly offensive and aggressive Slim Shady persona, with “The Eminem Show” not including the misogyny or homophobia within his lyrics. Enough that the whole album has a much lighter tone to it than the previous, incorporating more elements of rock music such as more guitar work and even some small samples from rock music. “Sing For The Moment” features a sample of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and also includes a new interpretation of its guitar solo.
While Eminem did take a step back on his overall profanity, he still found room to throw some disses at other popular artists. Those being Mariah Carey, Moby, Canibus and Limp Bizkit. On top of this, on one of the three songs Dre produced on this record, he contributed some vocals which dug at Jermaine Dupri. Despite the disses, this album overall came across as much more personal than the previous and their focus on Slim Shady. This album also brought about “Without Me”, a reflection of Eminem’s effect on pop culture and a mockery of some of his harshest critics. The song is one of his most successful singles as well as earning several awards for its fun music video, spoofing Eminem and Dre as superheroes.
“Encore” is a sequel album to “The Eminem Show”, in both name and theme. Much like “The Eminem Show”, it continues to leave behind the previous shock value, offensive lyrics from the first few albums. While the humor on this album could be described as much more childish and immature than previously, it still has a selection of good tracks to listen to. It also features a few small skits like “The Eminem Show” did. The album overall has a good flow, each track leads into the next seamlessly and features some welcome guest appearances from 50 Cent and Nate Dogg.
Further stepping away from Slim Shady meant confronting his actions. “Yellow Brick Road” visits his past and is a direct apology for a racist song he had written. “Like Toy Soldiers” is a very popular track from this album that is written in Eminem’s regret of getting into so many fights throughout his career. “Spend Some Time” is a look back at his relationships with women, featuring an uncredited vocal from Dina Rae as well as Obie Trice, Stat Quo and 50 Cent. “Mockingbird” is dedicated to Eminem’s daughter, and is probably the most personal track on the album. While there is still a little bit of fun throughout the album, there is a lot of reflective thinking throughout.
After a hiatus to recover from writers block as well as a sleeping pill addiction, Eminem was back. Not just Marshall, but Slim Shady made his grand return back into Eminem’s music. “Relapse” is a concept album which explores Eminem falling back into his drug addictions and causes the infamous Slim Shady to return, as well as being inspired by Eminem’s fascination of horror characters and serial killers. “3. A.M.”, “Same Song & Dance”, “My Mom” and “Stay Wide Awake” bring back Shady in his dark and morbid prime, and back to his problematic roots, some of the songs gladly portraying named murder, while others go back to their shocking, misogynistic ways.
However, despite the overall dark theme of the album coming back to light, it does also feature some very personal and some upbeat tracks. “Deja Vu” views his struggle with drug addiction during his music hiatus as well as how his behavior under the influence had scared his daughter. “Beautiful” is a ballad, which covers Eminem’s deep depression in which he had lost hope in himself and his future. He wanted it here amidst the violence and chaos to remind not just himself, but everyone who needed to hear it, that no matter how dark a place someone was in, they could get out of it.
Thematically a followup of “Relapse”, though written to deviate from the prior’s overall tone to be much more emotionally driven. So much so that the album is missing the skits and jokes that are often included in Eminem records and reduced the amount of time the infamous alter ego Slim Shady took the mic. The album features collaborations with artists Pink, Lil Wayne, Slaughterhouse and Rihanna. Rihanna and Eminem’s collaboration brought about “Love The Way You Lie”, a pop ballad that tells the story of an abusive couple unable to leave each other, and became a smash hit from day one.
The album features plenty of heavy themes with an overall healthy release, such as Eminem’s change in his life and personality. His separation from his drug addictions, violence and the feuds he found himself in with other celebrities. His “doomed” love for his ex-wife, the feeling of being caged within his own fame. While Slim Shady was pushed back a little to enforce a more positive and emotional record, “So Bad” and “Almost Famous” still feature him in all his vulgarity. This album was very well received, and for good reason. It’s the perfect blend of Eminem’s classic heinousness blended into a larger quantity of emotional tracks.
The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013)
Upon its initial reveal, this album soon became the most anticipated of its year in 2013. A sequel album to his third album, one of his most popular, 13 years later? It came packed with more collaborations, Rihanna returned as well as Skylar Grey, Nate Ruess, Kendrick Lamar and Russian singer, Polina. This album being a sequel to its predecessor, it also harkens back to it via songs like “Bad Guy” being a sequel song to “Stan” from the original album. “Survival” features Liz Rodrigues and celebrates Eminem’s return with rocking instrumentals. “Berzerk” is a huge homage to old school hip hop and samples several Beastie Boys tracks.
Two of the most popular tracks from this record are “Rap God”, in which Eminem does pay tribute to other rappers, he proudly proclaims himself to be the best of the best. This track has commonly been referenced down to the speed of Eminem’s raps and rhymes. Then “The Monster”, the next collaboration with Rihanna, is a dark song that deals strongly with the harsh battle of inner demons.
Releasing with more featured artists than ever before and a whopping 19 tracks, “Revival” finds more influence from rock than the last few albums. Despite that, it also features an abundance of features, most of which being popular pop artists. Featuring a pretty big 8 collaborative songs and opening with one of them, “Walk On Water” as collaborated with Beyoncé. “Untouchable” is a heavily political track which looks at police brutality and institutional racism. “River” features Ed Sheeran and its heavy emotional themes resonated so well with listeners at the time and still do now.
P!nk returns to Eminem’s collaborations with “Need Me” and “Like Home” features Alicia Keys. Skylar Grey also makes a return with “Tragic Endings”, though two highlight tracks on this record have got to be the songs dedicated to Eminem’s treasure, his daughter Hailey. “Castle” and “Arose” are two heartfelt raps that look into the struggles of her birth, raising her at the time on such low funds and how his addictions and his media appearance may have scared her and damaged their relationship. Likely the highlights of this massive record.
A surprise release that was produced in a short 8 months, “Kamikaze” went back through the loop and brought Slim Shady back, front and center. The album returned to the angry, comical tone of Eminem’s earlier material and featured a number of diss tracks as well as some of the language he had previously been condemned for. It also features skits, the kind of material that had been cut from the previous albums.
“The Ringer” opens with clever wordplay as always and the album continues with similar, some might say outdated, vulgarity for the year of 2018. Despite the outdated words and references, this album’s star attraction is probably “Venom”. The song was used for the movie of the Marvel character of the same name. In the context of Eminem it recalls his career over the course of the song, and in the context of both himself and the character Venom, it cleverly incorporates the lore of Venom’s character, that he is able to merge with someone’s own bloodstream and remain part of them as a hungry parasite.
Music To Be Murdered By (2020)
Another record that brought Eminem’s overall dark humor back into the limelight, this album’s cover, title and overall theme were heavily inspired by Alfred Hitchcock. Not only this, but samples of Hitchcock’s voice were used in “Alfred”, “Alfred (Outro)” and the start of “Little Engine”. The record features a good mix of songs about Eminem’s personal life and family, love songs and a few goofy and violent Slim Shady tracks, them being much less tasteless than the previous album.
“Those Kinda Nights” collaborated with Ed Sheeran once more, it being a lighthearted track following the popular theme of clubbing. Two singles also released from this record. “Darkness” released as a political track, one that criticized the carelessness of gun laws in the US. It takes the perspective of Stephen Paddock, the murderer of 60 people in the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting. Cleverly, the song also manages to double its meaning, as it could also reflect Eminem’s anxiety before performing in a concert. Featuring Juice Wrld, “Godzilla” was the second single from this album and famously claimed Eminem another record of the fastest raps ever recorded, at 10.3 syllables per second.
Thankfully, all of these records are available on vinyl!
Who better to listen to in such high fidelity than one of the biggest titans of the hip hop industry?