When conversations of the GOAT come up, as they so often do in hip-hop discourse, it’s only a matter of time before somebody brings Eminem into the fold. And while Em’s position as a hip-hop legend is unquestionable, there remain some who seek to detract for his legacy, citing questionable content or an inconsistent discography as problematic. However, there’s no denying that insofar as songwriters go, Em has solidified himself as one of our generation’s most talented songwriters, spanning across any musical genre.

While his sheer lyrical proficiency may be his flashiest attribute, what really elevates Eminem is his ability to be at once offensive and insightful, to pen haunting narratives that resonate with listeners for days afterward, and most importantly, to paint himself as a fully developed character in the theater of his own life. The self awareness Em displays is all but unprecedented in hip-hop, and his honesty often makes for some of his most compelling material.

And while it’s true that Eminem’s discography has suffered in the later years, that does not, and should not, take away from the brilliance of his prime. In making this list, the goal was to highlight some of Eminem’s most powerful moments as both a rapper and a writer. Over the course of these twenty five songs, take some time to really dive into the insane brilliance of Eminem, and don’t be surprised to find yourself laughing, crying, shivering, cringing, or simply nodding your head in approval.

And so, here are the top twenty-five Eminem songs of all time.

25. Fack

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

I bet you never expected this. How the fuck can a song about shoving a gerbil up your own ass, through a tube no less, be included in Eminem’s top twenty five songs of all time? Well, the question really should be, how can’t it? It was on his greatest hits, after all.

I remember when the tracklist to Curtain Call first leaked, people were speculating that “Fack” was going to be a serious track, short for “FAQ.” Well, how wrong they were. Instead they got Eminem going absolutely wild over a strange and discomforting beat. I wish I could have seen Dr. Dre’s reaction to this song, but you know what? It’s kind of catchy. And honestly, some might even argue that “Fack” has aged better than some of Eminem’s recent music, marking one of the last instances of Em’s “normal” voice and preferred style of production. Some might say it’s the last vestige of Eminem’s off kilter and relentless humor.

If you don’t like it, see that gerbil? Grab that tube.

24. Infinite

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

Before Eminem and Denaun Porter were linking up to make up one third of D12, the Detroit duo were teaming up to craft Eminem’s debut album, Infinite. A far cry from the content that later made him famous, Infinite and its title track served to make one thing clear – the whiteboy could spit bars. Em’s multi-syllabic prowess is on full display as he weaves over old-school production. It’s a rare foray into “boom-bap-adjacent” territory for the emcee, despite having been his preferred style during his formative years.

“Infinite” originally dropped in 1996, when Eminem was busy selling home-pressed copies from the back of his trunk. After recently being re-released in a new, remastered state, Em’s classic banger is a smooth showcase of a young, hungry rapper sitting comfortably in his element. It’s crazy to think that this is the same rapper who gave us “Kim,” or even the aforementioned mad brilliance that is “Fack.” Still, the sheer level of skill displayed in “Infinite” would have no doubt turned the heads of even the most ardent purist.

23. Bitch Please II ft. Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit & Nate Dogg

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

Upon writing the names Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, and Xzibit in a single sentence, I was struck with an overwhelming bittersweet sadness. During the time when The Marshall Mathers LP dropped, it wasn’t uncommon to see Eminem sharing the mic with established rappers, and “Bitch Please 2” was the pinnacle of The Aftermath empire, picking up where Dre left off on 2001. Everything about “Bitch Please 2” is classic, from Nate Dogg’s phenomenal chorus, to the haunting beat, to Eminem’s razor sharp final word. 

“I just want you all to notice me and people to see, that somewhere deep down there’s a decent human bein’ in me, it just can’t be found so the reason you’ve been seein’ this me, is ‘cause this is me now, the recent dude who’s bein’ this mean,” raps Eminem, displaying the technical prowess and social awareness that skyrocketed him into the Goat conversation. Perhaps the biggest tragedy is that we’ll never have another “Bitch Please 2.” Nate Dogg has passed away, Xzibit and Dr. Dre have all-but-ceased making music on a consistent basis, and Snoop hasn’t collaborated with Eminem in over a decade. So if it’s been a minute, give this one a spin for old time’s sake.

22. Cold Wind Blows

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

From the mad minds of Slim Shady and Just Blaze comes “Cold Wind Blows,” the opening track off Recovery. The track kicks things off with an odd melody which immediately sets you on edge, and for good reason. Recovery found Em teaming up with the talented Just Blaze, who does his best Dr. Dre impression with a descending piano progression and hard hitting drums. Em comes out the gate with some fury, reveling in some of the controversial subject matter that drew him such controversy in his hey-day. Women and gay men are some of Em’s preferred targets, and while certain lines haven’t exactly aged well in 2017’s social climate, you can’t help but respect Em’s no-fucks-given attitude as he takes playful shots at the homie Elton John.   

The chorus is one of the strangest he’s ever done, yet there is something delightfully eerie about his chosen melody and cadence. Contextually, this one was especially special for being one of the first joints in a “post-accent” era, and heralded what many felt to be a return of Shady. While Recovery ultimately came to divide fans, “Cold Wind Blows” stands the test of time as one of Eminem’s hardest recent bangers.

21. Headlights

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

Eminem was one of the first rappers to involve his personal life into his music, building a lore that featured an extensive cast of characters – on again off again wife Kim Mathers, daughter Hailey, and of course, his mother Debbie Mathers. As Em says in the opening bars of “Headlights”, his mom probably got it the worst; over the course of his catalog, Em put her on blast countless times, dragging her name through the mud with profane disrespect. Hearing him confess that he no longer performs “Cleaning Out My Closet,” and cringing whenever he hears it is a stark reminder that Eminem’s relationship with his mother is a complex one, that goes far beyond what’s presented on wax.

Yet something changed. On 2013’s Marshall Mathers LP 2, Eminem surprised the world by extending a lyrical olive branch to his mother. The emotional, Nate Ruess-assisted song found Marshall rapping in an honest and vulnerable way about his history of lyrically disrespecting the woman who birthed him, filling the track with personal, poignant anecdotes. It’s powerful stuff, and may very well make you feel strange things you aren’t used to feeling. Like that salty rain suddenly leaking from your eye holes.

20. Nail In The Coffin

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

If “Headlights” was about repairing a fractured relationship, “Nail In The Coffin” is about destroying one with the ferocity of Darth Vader at the end of Rogue One. Em’s long-standing and vicious beef with Benzino came to a head in 2003, and while Em’s warning shot “The Sauce” definitely deserves a shout out, “Nail In The Coffin” surpasses its predecessor by doing exactly what its title suggests it would. “Can-I-Bitch” was a different beast altogether, and while Eminem was a different sort of ruthless on that joint, he takes it to another level on this one:

“Slap my mom, slap the fuck out of her, she can’t sue you, she wouldn’t get a buck out of ya cause you’re broke as fuck, you suck, you’re a fucking joke, if you were really selling coke well then what the fuck you stop for dummy? If you slew some crack, you’d make a lot more money than you do from rap.”

Evidently, everybody does not love Raymond. Benzino, and The Source for that matter, never fully recovered from the apocalyptic “Nail In The Coffin.”

19. We As Americans

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

“We As Americans” feels like it might be more topical than ever before. With all the turmoil going on in the U.S. right now, the morose political track finds a defeated Eminem reflecting on the shit-show that is the world at large. Police brutality, gun control, and impending revolution are some of the leading topics in this Encore bonus cut, but this ominous line carries timeless weight:

“I don’t rap for dead presidents, I’d rather see the president dead, it’s never been said but I set precedents.”

In the original leaked version, the line managed to slip through uncensored. But such dangerous rhetoric must always end up censored, shouldn’t it? “We As Americans” is Em at his most politically savvy, lacking the heavy handedness of “Mosh” and “Public Enemy #1” and delivering an impressive combination of socially-conscious lyricism and haunting melodies. It’s crazy to think what might have happened if “Straight From The Lab” never leaked. Would “Love You More” and “We As Americans” have found a home on Encore?  

18. Seduction

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

When it dropped, Recovery was initially met with praise from fans, if only for delivering the killing blow to Relapse’s notorious “accent.” While time was less than kind to Em’s “comeback” album, Recovery remained a risky album for Marshall, who deviated from his comfort zone in order to work with new and unfamiliar producers Just Blaze, DJ Khalil, and Boi 1da. The latter, who made a name for himself producing Drake bangers, provided Eminem with one of the album’s highlight tracks: the hypnotic, and somewhat out of character “Seduction.”

While Eminem rarely forays into “seduction” rap, generally preferring to rhyme about, well, raping and murdering the fairer sex, “Seduction” finds Em spitting game with a not-entirely-unconvincing swagger. Taking playful shots at the Jigga man’s flow in “Reminder,” Em makes it clear that he’s well aware of his talent, and fully intends on using it to steal your lady friend. Especially if she happens to have a seven-disc CD changer in her car. 

17. American Psycho

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

While this one isn’t technically an Eminem solo track, it wouldn’t be a proper top twenty-five list without a track from The Dirty Dozen. Devil’s Night dropped back in 2001, when Em was riding a post Marshall Mathers LP popularity wave, and he managed to use that popularity to put his crew on the map. In fact, Em’s work on Devil’s Night marks a unique chapter of his career. His rhymes and charisma were at an all time high, conceptually flirting with some horror-themed concepts that would later remerge on Relapse.

“American Psycho” features a moody beat from Em himself, with percussion and strings harkening some of the most vilest horror films. “Fuck lambs, I’m silencing em’ all, I’m involved in murders forensic science couldn’t solve,” raps Em, absolutely dominating the opening verse. Throw in a disturbing verse from Bizarre (who raps about eating his miscarried child) and Kon Artis rapping his ass off, and you have one of D12’s most chilling moments.

16. Hello

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

In my opinion, Relapse is probably the strongest of Eminem’s post-comeback catalog, largely in part to some excellent production from Dr. Dre, Dawaun Parker, and Mike Elizondo. Plus, Em seems to be in the zone here, especially when it comes to his flow. The concept, in which he embodies a depraved, accented serial killer, can be a little tiresome, but it also leads to a gratuitous bout of lyrical and hilarious Grand-Guignol.  

On “Hello,” Dr. Dre comes through with a dark guitar-driven instrumental, while Eminem proceeds to delve deep into a twisted bender, in which he loses valium, engages in unprotected one night stands, and fantasizes about engaging in period sex. “My equilibrium’s off, must be the lithium,” raps Em, to which I say, how the hell did he even think of that? As Relapse approaches its tenth anniversary, “Hello” has proven to be one of the album’s standout cuts.

15. Evil Deeds

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

Encore and Eminem fans have a complicated relationship. On one hand, it’s filled with some of Eminem’s laziest and most questionable lyrical content. There’s literally a song called “Big Weenie,” and “Just Lose It” is possibly one of the worst Eminem songs of all time (shout out to “Wee Wee”). Yet Encore still feels like one of the last of the core “Eminem albums,” if that makes sense. The bulk of production was handled by himself & Dr. Dre, and his voice had yet to undergo the drastic change of later years. Plus, “Evil Deeds” is an engaging introduction on both a musical and thematic level.

Over a dark, choir driven Dr. Dre beat, Eminem revisits favored themes of familial woe and the trappings of celebrity. The entire vibe is permeated with a Gothic aesthetic, and Eminem delivers his lyrics like a twisted nursery rhyme from the streets of Victorian England. In some ways, this track feels like a spiritual successor to “Say Goodbye Hollywood,” marking the beginning of Em’s of oft-revisited “Tears Of A Clown” motif.

14. Just Don’t Give A Fuck

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

“Just Don’t Give A Fuck” was the cornerstone of many Slim Shady archetypes. Carnivalesque production, relentless punchlines, and devil-may care attitude permeated this Bass Brother’s produced standout. From the minute battle rapper Frogg begins rambling like a drunken preacher, you can already feel the tension building.

The title alone carries the emergence of Em’s nihilistic outlook, a far cry from the effortless lyricism and backpack vibes of Infinite. “Just Don’t Give A Fuck” is a near perfect marriage of bars, shocking content, and a raw, late nineties instrumental. It helps that Em is in particularly fine form, showcasing a glimpse at his aptitude for contorting the English language. Bonus points should also be awarded for spawning a pretty dope sequel, “Still Don’t Give A Fuck,” and if any hip-hop head is looking to get into Eminem’s less obscene material, this one might be a good jump-off point.

13. Difficult

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

On April 11th, 2006, Eminem’s best friend Proof was murdered in a Detroit club. I remember hearing about it the following morning, in my senior year of high school. As a dedicated D12 fan, the news was particularly upsetting. Therefore, it was no surprise that the shock sent Eminem reeling into a deep depression, and Em even attributed his pill addiction to Proof’s death on wax. Many fans waited for Em to release a tribute song, and it finally came with Recovery’s “You’re Never Over.” Yet the true classic was leaked illegitimately, in the form of “Difficult.”

It’s not an easy listen. You can hear the pain in Eminem’s voice as he revisits his friendship with Proof, reflecting on their childhood and life after death. When you hear Em’s voice crack as he raps about Proof’s casket, it’s hard not to get a little emotional. While this track was presumably never meant to see the light of day, I’m glad that it did. “Difficult” is a beautiful tribute, and a testament to one of the more underrated bromances in hip-hop. Rest in peace Deshaun Holton, aka Dirty Harry, aka Proof.

12. Beautiful

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

Led off by a sample of  Queen and Paul Rodger’s take on “Reaching Out,” “Beautiful” deviates from the dominant serial killer concept, taking a step into reality to deliver one of the most powerful Relapse tracks. Eminem’s voice and delivery sound so utterly defeated that it’s almost hard to listen to, especially when you realize the extent of his battle with depression. The man nearly died, after all, and hearing his take on the lead-up to his depression and ensuing writer’s block is a fascinating experience.

While the majority of “Beautiful” tends to center around themes of depression, the third verse finds Em expressing a desire for recovery. Eminem is one of rap’s most animated characters, and sometimes we can forget that such a larger than life personality is a human being, just like us. Still, it’s unfortunate to say, but Em tends to make some of his strongest music when depression strikes. He later goes on to describe himself as a “portrait of an artist, tortured, trapped in his own drawings.” Poetic license aside, the metaphor seems fitting.

11. Rock Bottom

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

As if to reinforce my earlier point, some of Eminem’s strongest material comes from when the man is feeling at his lowest. That’s not to say we wish him any ill will, but it’s simply a testament to his strength as an author. Eminem at his best has a way of tapping into real, uncensored emotion, uninhibited by the trappings of bravado. It’s what sets him apart from many of the rappers out there now; while insecurity is viewed by many as a weakness, Em understood the universality of it, and in turn connected with millions.

On Slim Shady LP’s “Rock Bottom,” Eminem vents about yet another universal pain in the ass – poverty. You can hear his frustration as he reflects on his dead end job, and the utter hopelessness of being unable to provide for his family. It’s powerful stuff, especially when you look back on his discography in hindsight. While he had problems in poverty, they didn’t exactly go away when he got rich (refer to “Evil Deeds”). In fact, Eminem’s struggled with both ends of the financial spectrum, and money and status have remained constant themes in his arsenal. 

Plus, he rapped about Percocet before it was “cool.”

10. The Way I Am

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

By now, true Stans are familiar with the anecdote about how Em came up with the beat for “The Way I Am.” Who knew a simple piano loop could express so much anger? With an unconventional flow, Em growls a warning at anybody who dared approach him during the peak of his celebrity. It’s real shit, and a disturbing look into the psyche of a man at his wit’s end. You can almost feel like Em wouldn’t have been able to last if he came up during a smartphone era; he’d probably be in jail before 8 Mile. Yet “The Way I Am” is one of Em’s most important tracks, deconstructing the model of a successful hip-hop single while providing no shortage of raw honesty.

It’s the lyrical equivalent of a therapy session, and Em holds nothing back. It’s crazy to think that there was once a time when Eminem felt he’d never be able to top “My Name Is,” and if the Steve Berman skits have any credence to them, it wouldn’t be surprisingly if both he and the label truly believed The Marshall Mathers LP was destined to flop.

9. Kill You

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

While it’s hard to get away with bumping “Kill You” in the whip (especially in 2017), there’s no denying that the opening track on The Marshall Mathers LP came from a brilliant, twisted auteur. The sheer elevated level of Em’s rhyming is enough to blow minds, and when you throw in some of his more hilariously violent imagery (Texas chainsaw, left his brains all dangling from his neck, while his head barely hangs on!), listening to “Kill You” for the first time was like being a kid watching his first horror movie. Bring on the boobies and gore.

What really makes “Kill You” special is a stunning sample flip by the master himself, Dr. Dre. Reaching deep into the European vaults, Dre sampled the piano loop of pianist Jacques Loussier’s track “Pulsion.” Eventually, Pulsion sued for ten million dollars, but the notoriety of one of Eminem’s most controversial tracks of all time has long since justified the investment.

8. No Apologies

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

The first iteration of “No Apologies” first surfaced in a freestyle on Big Tigger’s “Rap City” back in 2002, where Em blatantly refers to having “jelly, like Beyonce’s pot belly.” The verse later made a triumphant return on The Re-Up, where Em delivered a raw take over a simple drum, piano, and icy pad-based instrumental. The track ultimately dropped during 2006, when Em was largely considered to be on a serious decline. For whatever reason, something had changed in Marshall’s demeanor, and the change could definitely be felt in his music.

As we later came to learn, the once triumphant Eminem was in the middle of battling addiction, surrounded by yes-men and delivering sub-par performances, a shadow of his former self. And then “No Apologies” dropped, reminding everyone exactly what he was capable of. For the first time in a minute, Em sounded like his old self, giving fans hope that the potential GOAT was waiting for his second wind. 

7. Without Me

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

Perhaps Eminem’s most widely recognized single, this disco-inspired banger had half the world repeating “Obie Trice, real name no gimmicks” without the slightest clue who Obie Trice even was. Em always had a reputation for delivering a pop-friendly single, and while previous analogs “My Name Is” and “The Real Slim Shady” enjoyed successful commercial runs, none of them seemed to achieve the ubiquity of “Without Me.”

Bolstered by a hilarious music video that found Eminem cosplaying as both Robin and Osama Bin Laden, “Without Me,” proved that Eminem could deliver scathing social commentary without the shock value of say, “Kill You” or “I’m Back.” It doesn’t hurt that Em’s flowing his ass off, tapping into the perfect blend of pop accessibility and effortless technical prowess. While not necessarily his deepest cut, “Without Me,” stands as one of Eminem’s most iconic. The 457,930,165 Youtube views don’t lie.

6. Deja Vu

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

Say what you will about Eminem, but the man is a masterful storyteller. Plus, few can craft a hook with as much finesse as Slim. Both qualities are in full effect on the Dr. Dre produced “Deja Vu,” off the underrated horror-themed Relapse album. Em takes a break from murder and carnal rage to craft a detailed narrative about his pill addiction. At the time, many were left speculating about what truly happened to Em, and “Deja Vu” clears the air in a big way.

Bookended by a melancholic yet catchy chorus, Eminem weaves a haunting picture of his mental state and rationale during the darkest days of his addiction. “Me and you almost had the same outcome Heath, cause that Christmas, you know the whole pneumonia thing? It was bologna, was it the methadone ya think?” The entire third verse is a masterclass in both storytelling and flow, delivered with an effortless manner that only Em can bring. At the time, “Déjà Vu” was one of the first instances where Em seriously addressed his absence from the game, holding nothing back. Many fans had no idea how close Em came to death, leading to a sobering reality check.

5. Marshall Mathers

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

While some might decry the absence of choice Marshall Mathers LP cuts like “I’m Back,” “Who Knew,” or posse cut extraordinaire “Bitch Please 2,” know that the decision was indeed a tough one. Still, there was something about “Marshall Mather’s” scathing autobiographical prose that perfectly encapsulated the anger, angst, and satirical aptitude that made Eminem such a formidable and intriguing presence during his peak.

Over a finger picked acoustic guitar arpeggio, Em reflects on his sudden burst of upward mobility, but not before setting things off with some effortless and hilarious rhyming finesse. Some of Em’s biggest strength are on full display, from his macabre imagination (imagery of walking headless, barking dogs), to his keen societal insight, to his effortless way with words. The way he lyrically dismantles his mother’s attorney Fred Gibson is a masterclass in schoolyard humor, as juvenile as it is catastrophic – “Talkin’ about I fabricated my past, he’s just aggravated I won’t ejaculate in his ass.”

4. Till I Collapse

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

While Eminem’s recent genre-bending rap-rock “stadium” cuts have been of somewhat dubious quality, “Till I Collapse” exemplifies a hip-hop anthem done right. With a militant backdrop for a spine, Em closed out The Eminem Show’s final quarter by going in, dealing with an entire spectrum of topics, including his place in the game, his influences, his creative process, and his relationships. Not only that, Em also made history by rattling off his top eight rappers – Redman, Jay-Z, 2Pac, Biggie, Andre 3000, Jadakiss, Kurupt, Nas, and himself.

“Till I Collapse” features a solid hook from the late, great Nate Dogg, but the magic lies within the penmanship of the verses. Each one seems to get progressively better, and Em closes the track with a personal and provocative meditation on where he stands in the game:

Soon as a verse starts, I eat at an emcee’s heart
What is he thinking? How not to go against me, smart
And it’s absurd how people hang on every word
I’ll probably never get the props I feel I ever deserve
But I’ll never be served, my spot is forever reserved
If I ever leave Earth, that would be the death of me first.

3. Stan

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

What more can one say about this classic? It’s been parodied. It’s brought a new word into the English language lexicon. It united Eminem and Elton John in one of the Grammy’s most legendary moments. At the time TheMarshall Mathers LP dropped back in 2000, the narrative surrounding Eminem was far from positive. Labelled a homophobic, misogynist, shock peddler, parents worldwide led pickets and protests to protect their children from the devilish Em.

But “Stan” was something undeniably artistic. It was conceptual with a sense of literary class, a full fledged narrative with a haunting conclusion and a powerful, lasting message. Thanks to a brilliant bit of sampling by The Bass Brothers, Dido’s chorus soon became iconic, helping to propel “Stan” into dozens of “best of all time” song lists. Once again, Eminem proves himself a master storyteller, but special attention should also be given to his brilliant use of his voice.

2. 8 Mile

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

If you look at Eminem’s career as an elevating graph, some might say his work on the 8 Mile soundtrack was his peak performance. While many are quick to associate Em’s glorious work on the 8 Mile Soundtrack with the Academy Award winning “Lose Yourself,” his true magnum opus came in the form of “8 Mile.” Em goes in for over six minutes, and while he’s ostensibly rapping from the perspective of B. Rabbit, there are clearly levels to this shit.It’s probably one of Em’s most underrated songs of all time, especially when you consider the density of the lyricism, the complex flows, and the utter storytelling prowess. 

You gotta live it to feel it; you didn’t, you wouldn’t get it
Or see what the big deal is, why it was and it still is
To be walkin’ this borderline of Detroit city limits
It’s different, it’s a certain significance, a certificate
Of authenticity, you’d never even see
But it’s everything to me, it’s my credibility
You never seen, heard, smelled or met a real MC
Who’s incredible upon the same pedestal as me

It’s one thing to tell a story, and it’s another to keep said story consistently entertaining, especially on a track this long. The confidence with which he strings together his sentence is outstanding, and Em manages to take us on an emotional journey with nothing but his voice and his words. A stunning piece of writing from one of hip-hop’s best lyricists, and one that more than merits such an elevated position on this list. Don’t let me try to convince you – throw it on and listen for yourself. 

1. Say Goodbye Hollywood

Top 25 Best Eminem Songs Of All Time

“Say Goodbye Hollywood,” and The Eminem Show in general, brought a marked shift in Eminem’s public perception. While The Marshall Mathers LP catapulted Slim into international stardom, it also served to cast the rapper in a darker light, as media outlets, parents, and politicians were more than happy to label him a scapegoat for the world’s misery. And on the surface, it seemed as if Eminem was more than happy to embrace it, relishing in the prospect of being “the bad guy.”

Prior to “Say Goodbye Hollywood,” Eminem would often vent with unapologetic frustration or through his merciless yet astute sense of humor, on songs like “The Way I Am” and “Who Knew” respectively. Yet “Hollywood” was different territory for Em, an honest reflection on his position in the zeitgeist, and an open analysis on its effect on his mental health. The album centerpiece is, in many ways, the most important song of his career, marking a persona shift from hip-hop’s evil bastard to a straight up tortured artist, buried beneath the weight of his rapidly growing success. Essentially, “Say Goodbye Hollywood” turned Eminem from a villain to an anti-hero, and as we all know, the world can always benefit from a good anti-hero.

Everywhere I go, a hat, a sweater hood or mask
What about math, how come I wasn’t ever good at that?
It’s like the boy in the bubble, who never could adapt
I’m trapped, if I could go back, I never woulda rapped
I sold my soul to the devil, I’ll never get it back
I just wanna leave this game with level head intact
Imagine goin’ from bein’ a no one to seein’
everything blow up, and all you did was just grow up emceein’
It’s fuckin’ crazy…