"Let's take it back to straight hip-hop and start it from scratch," rapped Eminem on "Berzerk," the speaker-annihilating, Rick Rubin-produced single off his latest record Marshall Mathers LP 2. It's an interesting request from a rapper who has always been a little old school at heart. Wasn't Eminem delivering straight hip-hop all along?

With the release of MMLP2 this week, XXL is in a nostalgic mood, looking back at Eminem's 50 best verses. From his hungry Infinite days to his reign as pop's blonde-haired badboy to his triumphant return as a hip-hop elder-statesman, Eminem has tried on many identities and personas (and voices) throughout his career, but they all share one thing: a commitment to lyrical perfection. --Eric Diep, Dan Jackson, Reed Jackson, Miranda Johnson, Dan Rys, B.J. Steiner And Emmanuel C. M.

50. "What’s The Difference" - Verse 3
Album: The Chronic 2001 (1999)
Best Line: “So what’s the difference between us? We can start at the penis/Or we can stream, 'I just don’t give a fuck,' and see who means it?"
Dre and Eminem have never ceased to amaze the fans with their chemistry. 2001 might very well be Dre’s last album and there most likely won’t be a 2013 version of “Forgot About Dre” dropping soon. What makes Em’s second guest appearance so special is what he says before his verse starts. Stopping the beat to speak about his loyalty to Dre, it’s a moment in time that could never be replicated. Of course, the subsequent onslaught of rhymes is vintage Em—attacking Kim and paying respects to the rap gods who put him on. You’re not going to find another duo like Dre and Em. --ED

49. "Roman's Revenge" - Verse 2
Album: Pink Friday (2010)
Best Line: “Set up the camera and pissed twice on her/Look, two pees and a tripod!”
Nicki Minaj and Eminem toy with their alter-egos on Pink Friday’s most talked about collaboration. Roman Zolanski and Slim Shady go verse for verse and they don’t hold anything back. While Minaj is throwing shots at her rival Lil Kim, Em’s fires off lines about disrespecting a certain woman. Oh, how times haven’t changed. --ED

48. "Remember Me?" - Verse 3
Album: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Best Line: "Sick, sick dreams of picnic scenes/Two kids, sixteen with M-16s and 10 clips each/And them shits reach through six kids each"
In a career built on spitting scalding acid, there are very few verses in his career that burn the skin quite like "Remember Me?" After facing backlash for his violent lyrics in the wake of the Columbine school shooting, Em takes the time to lyrically dance on the grave of those who would foolishly blamed him for a tragedy. --BS

47. "Love The Way You Lie" - Verse 3
Album: Recovery (2010)
Best Line: "Maybe that's what happens when a tornado meets a volcano/All I know is I love you too much to walk away though"
The massive track—his highest-selling single to date—about domestic violence and abusive relationships hits an almost unbearable crescendo in the third verse. While it may not have the most classic lines in the song—that distinction falls to the first verse's "I can't tell you what it really is/I can only tell you what it feels like/And right now it's a steel knife in my windpipe," or maybe the final words of the second verse: "But you lied again/Now you get to watch her leave out the window/Guess that's why they call it window pain"—but it's the most hopeless, and maybe that's what makes it the most memorable. He spends the first 14 bars begging her to come back, only to undo absolutely everything with that final couplet—"I know I'm a liar, if she ever tries to fucking leave again/I'ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire." --DR

46. “Sing For The Moment” - Verse 3
Album: The Eminem Show (2002)
Best Line: “Music is reflective of self, we just explain it/And then we get checks in the mail, it’s fucked up, ain’t it?”
Throughout hip-hop history, there have been plenty of instances of MCs trying to explain what the genre is and what it should be. But none have explained its significance in relation to its fans as well as Em did on the Aerosmith-sampling “Sing For The Moment.” Its third verse, where Em raps about kids who “don’t have a thing…except for a dream and a fucking rap magazine,” is instantly relatable for anyone who fell in love with hip-hop for not only its music, but also for its ability as a coping mechanism. --RJ

45. "Bitch Please II" - Verse 4
Album: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Best Line: “Gimme the mic, let me recite ‘til Timothy White/Pickets outside the Interscope offices every night”
On Eminem’s magnum opus, there’s a continuation of Snoop Dogg’s “Bitch Please” that added him and Dr. Dre to the original lineup. As Snoop’s intro goes, Dre did shit on these haters two times with a second installment that featured one of Em’s iconic verses. The wordplay and dexterity is on point, showing that he was a tremendous talent in the making. --ED

44. "Hard Act To Follow" - Verse 5
Album: Outsidaz Unreleased Demo
Best Line: "It ain't a riddle/After you flat line in the hospital/While I'm in the middle row at your funeral wake/Fucking your widow"
Again construing a bizarre scenario where he's taunting an enemy after his death, the rapper delivers another undeniable verse. With its mix of bawdy antics, harsh threats and a crafty reference to Kiss in the 16, Eminem stands true to the title. Who would wanna follow this? --MJ

43. "Drug Ballad" - Verse 1
Album: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Best Line: "You have the right to remain violent and start wilin'/Start a fight with the same guy that was smart eyein' you/Get in your car, start it, and start drivin'/Over the island and cause a 42 car pile-up"
Prior to getting his life together and finding sobriety, Em had a gift for describing his tales of recreational drug use. Unlike his later work which would describe the darker side of addiction, "Drug Ballad" makes chemical codependence seem like a Candy Land of brightly colored pharmaceuticals. A world populated by Bacardi, endless Guinness and Marky Mark. --BS

42. "White America" - Verse 1
Album: The Eminem Show (2002)
Best Line: "Who woulda thought, standing in this mirror bleaching my hair/With some peroxide, reaching for a t-shirt to wear/That I would catapult to the forefront of rap like this?"
Many Eminem songs are about the difficulty of being Eminem. This can start to feel insular and repetitive at a certain point, but on tracks like "White America," particularly in the song's inspirational and wide-eyed first verse, he makes his narrative of being misunderstood feel universal. Surprised by his success and angered by his detractors, Eminem positions himself as the awkward rap star next door. "I shoveled shit all my life, and now I'm dumping it on White America," he raps, getting his revenge on the people who willfully misunderstand him. --DJ

41. "American Psycho" - Verse 1
Album: Devil’s Night (2001)
Best Line: “Each thought’s completely warped / I’m like a walking, talking Ouija board”
Em is not completely demented, but sure as hell can make a strong case here. With rhymes that are borderline creepy, Marshall says he’s a mindfuck and proceeds further with the idea. If you’re speaking in tongues, chances are there might a little bit of psycho in you. In the case of Em, he’s exploring his dark side with an added bite. --ED

40. "Low Down, Dirty" – Verse 1
Album: Slim Shady EP (1997)
Best Line: "Smoke a blunt while I'm titty fucking Bette Midler/Sniper, waiting on your roof like the Fiddler/Y'all thought I was gonna rhyme with Riddler, didn't ya?"
In the annals of hip-hop history, you could consider “Low Down, Dirty” as the official introduction to Eminem’s evil alter-ego, Slim Shady. As the first song on The Slim Shady EP, Em offers a prescient warning that everything that will be coming out of Slim’s mouth will be “Rated R.” --BS

39. "Superman" - Verse 3
Album: The Eminem Show (2002)
Best Line: "Ooh yeah, girl run that game,(Hailie Jade, I love that name)/Love that tattoo, what's that say? ('Rot in Pieces,' uh, that's great)"
Was this a song about Eminem's alleged fling with Mariah Carey? Maybe. One thing is clear. This five plus minute warning to sneaky women, past and present, conveys Em is no hero and will possibly write about you in his next top 20 Billboard Hot 100 single. You've been warned. --ECM

38. "Brain Damage" - Verse 2
Album: The Slim Shady LP (1999)
Best Line: “Grabbed some sharp objects, brooms and foreign tools/This is for every time you took my orange juice.”
Em writes a vivid description of how he would kill the bully who picked on him in high school and actually reveals the bully’s real name at the beginning of the verse, which led to a lawsuit. But the real draw here is Em’s out-of-this-world wordplay, sometimes rhyming four different multi-syllable words in one bar. --RJ

37. "We All Die One Day" - Verse 3
Album: Cheers (2003)
Best Line: “We are not killers, my vato will have you shot, though/Dragged through the barrio and fucked like Kim Osorio’s/Little sorry ho ass, go ask B-Real/We burn Source covers like fucking Cypress Hill”
At the time, Eminem was going face-to-face with a number of people he didn’t like. In typical Em fashion, he throws lyrical darts at his enemies, namely former editor-in-chief of The Source Kim Osorio. His verse was more of a call to arms, telling the rap game that his crews—D12 and G-Unit—were fully loaded and ready for war. Clear the streets. --ED

36. "Cold Wind Blows" - Verse 3
Album: Recovery (2010)
Best Line: "But I swear, you try to diss me, I’ll slaughter you/I put that on everything, like everyone does with auto-tune.”
Like he does on a majority of Recovery, Em uses this verse to reestablish himself as one of the best MCs in the game. He does this by bragging about his ability on the mic and warning others that the last thing they want is for him to write a rhyme about them. --RJ

35. "Soldier" - Verse 1
Album: The Eminem Show (2002)
Best Line: "When you're me, people just want to see/If it's true, if it's you, what you say in your rap's, what you do"
The song plus the previous skit "The Kiss" illustrated Eminem's weapon charges plus and his then-wife Kim marital troubles they were going through, stemming from an incident where he saw her kiss a bouncer. He then assaulted him with a gun and received two-year probation. Bottom-line, Em loves his guns. --ECM

34. "When I'm Gone" - Verse 3
Album: Curtain Call: The Hits (2005)
Best Line: "'Now go up there and show 'em that you love 'em more than us'/That's what they want, they want you Marshall/They keep screamin' your name/It's no wonder you can't go to sleep, just take another pill/Yeah, I bet you you will"
It's jarring, and even more so in retrospect, that Em can almost have an out-of-body experience, looking at himself sinking into pill-popping depression due to the pressures on him as a parent versus him as a massive superstar. The first single off his Greatest Hits compilation, it was one of the last songs he released to radio before descending into his drug-induced hiatus, which makes the pill-popping, plane-crashing and suicide-shooting all the more meaningful. The final bars—where the alarm rings and he wakes up to Hailie on a swing in the yard and kisses Kim—is like Leonardo DiCaprio's recurring dream in Inception, when he sees his kids running to meet him but never sees where they're going. It gives me the chills just thinking about it. --DR

33. "Bad Meets Evil" - Verse 2
Album: The Slim Shady LP (1999)
Best Line: "I don't speak, I float in the air wrapped in a sheet/I'm not a real person, I'm a ghost trapped in a beat/I translate when my voice is read through a seismograph"
Royce Da 5'9" and Eminem link up for a Detroit massacre as the shell out sharp bars, slicing like a katana to the gut. Early signs of lyrical dominance. --ECM

32. "My Dad Gone Crazy" - Verse 2
Album: The Eminem Show (2002)
Best Line: "I'd rather be a pussy-whipped bitch, eat pussy/And have pussy lips glued to my face with a clit ring/ In my nose then quit bringing my flows"
It's absolutely incredible that Em's daughter, Hailie, is featured on the hook. It makes the song really sadistic and uncomfortable, really transferring the message of a demented father who lost his place in the world and scared girl. Brilliant song, jaw breaking bars, perfect production. --ECM

31. "Go To Sleep" - Verse 1
Album: Cradle 2 The Grave Soundtrack (2003)
Best Line: "We never met, but best believe you gon' know me/When I'm this close, to see you exposed as phony"
A three-man battle tune, Eminem yet again goes off on his enemies in this track, holding no bars. Also throwing shots at Ja Rule, who at the time was had beef with just about everyone, Eminem cleverly warns off all opponents all the while proving he's one of the greatest. --MJ

30. "Without Me” - Verse 3
Album: The Eminem Show (2002)
Best Line: “I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley/To do black music so selfishly.”
For all the things that “Without Me” is known for – the goofy beat, the shots at ambient geek Moby, the ridiculous video – perhaps its most impressive aspect, its self-awareness, is often overlooked. Em uses the song to mock his own fame, comparing himself to Elvis and reveling in the fact that his own obsceneness has made him a superstar. Its third verse acts as a coup de grace for anyone who dared imagine a mainstream world without him, as he threatens a variety of pop figures and warns that no matter how many white rappers come along, there will never be another one like him. Its catchiness helped it become a huge hit and paved the way for the success of The Eminem Show, which eventually sold over ten million copies worldwide. --RJ

29. "We Ain't" - Verse 2
Album: The Documentary (2005)
Best Line: “You’ll end up in the same situation, same shit / Different day, just with different gangstas in your face”
Game raps a telling verse about him, Em and 50 are running the rap game. Likewise, Em picks up right where he left off and boasts about how Shady/Aftermath is an unstoppable force. Empty threats become the standard for Em, but these specifically show you probably shouldn’t rub him the wrong way. --ED

28. "Marshall Mathers" - Verse 1
Album: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Best Line: "Double barrel 12-gauge bigger than Chris Wallace/Pissed off cause Biggie and Pac just missed all this/Watching all these cheap imitations get rich off them/And get dollars that should've been theirs like they switched wallets"
In the 14 years since Eminem threatened to impregnate the Spice Girls, Eminem has been torturing bubblegum pop stars in the lyrics of his song to great comedic effect. Em's magnum opus of boy band slaughter occurred on "Marshall Mathers" where he threatens to maim the Backstreet Boys, Ricky Martin, N'Sync and Britney Spears in one violent free-for-all.--BS

27. "Fight Music" - Verse 6
Album: Devil’s Night (2001)
Best Line: "If I could capture the rage of today's youth and bottle it/Crush the glass from my bare hands and swallow it"
At the height of his powers, Eminem had the uncanny knack for articulating the feeling teenage angst better than any artist since Kurt Cobain. On D12's "Fight Music," Em delivers an anthemic verse brimming with youthful rage aimed squarely at hypocritical critics.--BS

26. "The Real Slim Shady" - Verse 2
Album: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Best Line: "I'm sick of you little girl and boy groups, all you do is annoy me/So I have been sent here to destroy you"
The first verse of "The Real Slim Shady," the earworm of a single Eminem recorded for Interscope after Jimmy Iovine requested a "My Name Is"-style smash, is probably the flashiest and the third verse has the line about spitting on your onion rings, but the second verse is perhaps the most essential because it will always be the height of Em's celebrity-clowning days. Christina Aguilera, Carson Daly, Britney Spears and Fred Durst all get called out as Eminem positions himself as an oppositional figure for the TRL generation while still endearing himself to a young audience eager to laugh at his gags. The references may be dated, but the sentiments are timeless. --DJ

25. "Rabbit Run"
Album: 8 Mile Soundtrack (2002)
Best Line: “If I gotta scream ‘til I have half a lung/If I had half a chance I’d grab it – Rabbit, run”
The character Rabbit went through similar trials and tribulations as Eminem during his younger years. This long-winded verse finds Em touching on his struggles such as writer’s block, mom’s alcoholic fits, and trying to find his niche. Some of these parallels show that Em was speaking from real life experiences, making his verse relatable to any aspiring MC. --ED

24. "Infinite" - Verse 2
Album: Infinite (1996)
Best Line: "There's never been a greater since the burial of Jesus / Fuck around and catch all the venereal diseases / My thesis will smash a stereo to pieces / My a capella releases classic masterpieces through telekinesis"
The first track on Em's first album, essentially his introduction to the world, features the type of elite rhyming that he'd become so well-known for as the years went on—a line like "Imitator intimidator, stimulator, simulator of data, eliminator" is insane both lyrically and sonically. The whole track focuses on the juxtaposition between music and science—or more accurately, using scientific phrases to describe how elite he is musically. It eases you mentally, gently, sentimentally, and instrumentally, and doesn't let you pause for breath. --DR

23. "Forever" - Verse 4
Album: More Than A Game Soundtrack (2009)
Best Line: "I'm Hannibal Lecter, so just in case you're thinking of saving face/You ain't gonna have no face to save by the time I'm through with this place"
This is event rap done right. With Drake making the claim of "Last name ever, first name greatest," Eminem swoops in at the conclusion to put the Canadian crooner in his place. More than many other rappers, Eminem is driven by a possibly unhealthy sense of competition and this track finds him at the peak of his diabolical powers, painting a brutal tableau of busted teeth and broken noses. --MJ

22. "Under The Influence" - Verse 1
Album: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Best Line: “So when you find yourself wrapped up in the blinds, hurtin’/cause once you’re hung from the drapes, it’s curtains.”
Along with his D12 crew, Em uses the first verse of The Marshall Mathers LP’s posse cut to spit a number of violent threats and ridiculous boasts, tiptoeing the line between battle rap banter and horrorcore material. It’s a formula that Em used often as a young MC and has returned to as of late. --RJ

21. "Dead Wrong" - Verse 3
Album: Born Again (1999)
Best Line: “I got a lion in my pocket, I’m lying/I got a nine in my pocket, and baby I’m just dying to cok him/He’s ready for war, I’m ready for war/I got machetes and swords for any faggot that said he was raw”
The G.O.A.T. and the legend-in-the-making take the concept of violence to a whole new level on this posthumous Biggie record. Em stays in the pocket, throwing lines about Devil worshipping and getting ready for war. During Em’s early days of his career, the rawness in his delivery is clearly unmatched. --ED

20. "Purple Pills" - Verse 1
Album: Devil’s Night (2001)
Best Line: “These shrooms make me hallucinate / Then I sweat until I start losing weight / Until I see dumb shit start happening / Dumber than Vanilla Ice trying to rap again”
Em’s not going to deny he indulged in popping pills to alleviate some stress and have fun. The Dirty Dozen member goes from downers to uppers—all the while partying hard and dissing people like Christopher Reeves and Vanilla Ice. It’s that classic Em you know and love. --ED

19. "Guilty Conscience" - Verse 2
Album: The Slim Shady LP (1999)
Best Line: "(Man, ain't you ever seen that one movie Kids?)/ No but I seen the porno with Sun Doobiest!"
Dre and Em go back and forth providing as the main characters' yin and yang beautifully. Eminem is of course the "yin" spewing barbaric and malevolent advice to the characters with bone chilling details and hard hitting bars. --ECM

18. "Like Toy Soldiers" - Verse 2
Album: Encore (2004)
Best Line: "But now it's elevated, 'cause once you put someone's kids in it / The shit gets escalated, it ain't just words no more is it?"
One of Eminem's classic "fuck the industry" verses, he dishes on a number of behind-the-scenes incidents that wound up playing out in public—the 50 Cent/Ja Rule beef, his battle with Benzino and The Source, and the way battle rapping wound up in the headlines more for the violence it led to than the music it produced. The key lyric at the beginning of the verse sets up all the drama that follows, and even though there may be more illuminating lines, it acts as the verse's thesis. Maybe the most fascinating aspect is his revealing how all these beefs happened at the same time and pulled him and his crew apart at times, with the number one nugget being that he and Dr. Dre tried to prevent the Murder Inc. beef before it got completely out of hand.--DR

17. "Criminal" - Verse 2
Album: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Best Line: "Slim Shady, I'm as crazy as Eminem and Kim combined, "the maniac's in"
Slim Shady relishes being the bad guy. He voices his opinion very loudly, celebrating being the villain, with his violent and controversial rhetoric. --ECM

16. "Role Model" – Verse 1
Album: The Slim Shady LP (1999)
Best Line: "But I don't get pissed/Y'all don't even see through the mist/How the fuck can I be white?/I don't even exist"
If you were going to build the prototypical Eminem verse, you’d probably end up with some approximating the first verse on Eminem’s “Role Model.” Dark humor? Check. Drug references? Check. Indignation at polite society? Check. Death threats to celebrities? Check. You can find them all of those and more on “Role Model.” --BS

15. "Kim" - Verse 3
Album: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Best Line: "I should've known better when you started to act weird/We coulda.. hey, where you going? Get back here"
Choosing a "best line" or a "best verse" in a song like "Kim" is a perverse exercise. The song itself is a visceral family horror show, a Tobe Hooper massacre shot through with the pathos of a Sam Shepard play, and Eminem isn't afraid to push the material far beyond the boundaries of good taste. Where his earlier murder plots felt like sick jokes, this one feels all too real, even with his voice cracking and pleading as he plays the role of his terrified ex. In the final verse he imagines Kim's death in startling detail, packing the verse with paranoid accusations and imagined scenarios that take you in the mind of a deranged killer. --DJ

14. "Cleaning Out My Closet" - Verse 3
Album: The Eminem Show (2002)
Best Line: “My whole life I was made to believe I was sick when I wasn’t/’Til I grew up, now I blew up, it makes you sick to ya stomach.”
Up to the release of The Eminem Show, Em had revealed a number of insights into his tumultuous relationship with his mother, infamously rapping on his debut that she did more drugs than he did. But none of that had the shocking detail and pure hatred of his third verse on “Cleaning Out My Closet,” perhaps the most infamous song of his catalogue. On it, he reveals he was a victim of his mother’s drug addiction and explains how she poisoned him as a child to get access to pharmaceutical drugs. At the end of the verse, he talks directly to her, telling her that he hopes she goes to hell for her actions and that she is already dead to him. It’s very heavy stuff, and the fact that such a disturbingly revealing song got so much radio play was unprecedented. --RJ

13. "My Name Is" - Verse 3
Album: The Slim Shady LP (1999)
Best Line: "Well, since age twelve I felt like I'm someone else/Cause I hung my original self from the top bunk with a belt"
The larger worlds first introduction to Slim Shady. Marshall Mathers has died and like a Phoenix, he is reborn from his ashes as Slim Shady; showing off his impressive cadence control and untouchable storytelling ability. Em takes the listener on a journey through the psyche of his alter-ego, Slim Shady and the world falls in love. --ECM

12. "Deja Vu"
Album: Relapse (2009)
Best Line: “Wouldn’t even be taking this shit if DeShaun didn’t die / Oh yeah, there’s an excuse, you lose Proof so you use”
Eminem’s road to recovery was heavily documented in Relapse. One song in particular detailed his infamous overdose and the events that led up to it. Em has become the poster child for people who have overcome their addictions and we get to enter his mind state in “Déjà vu.”--ED

11. "Who Knew" – Verse 1
Album: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Best Line: "I don't do black music, I don't do White music/I make fight music, for high school kids"
Eminem is, at his absolute best, when he’s bucking at the reins of society. On the first verse of “Who Knew,” he runs circles around his critics and mocks those that want him to censor music for the benefit of impressionable “Little Eric.” --BS

10. "Rap God" - Verse 3
Album: The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013)
Best Line: "Never fading, and I know the haters are forever waiting/For the day that they can say I fell off, they'd be celebrating"
Technical prowess has always been a part of Eminem's appeal. With his battle rap instincts and his sophisticated rhyming patterns, there's plenty of verbal gymnastics going on in any random song on this list, but even amongst the fastest verses in Eminem's catalog, the third verse of "Rap God" stands out. Starting off with a complicated bit of internal rhyming ("So you be Thor and I'll be Odin, you rodent, I'm omnipotent"), the verse only grows more baroque as it progresses. Then there's the part where he switches into his J.J. Fad "Supersonic" flow and it's hard to keep your brain from melting. He may be over 40, but age means little to a god. --DJ

9. "Insane" - Verse 1
Album: Relapse (2009)
Best Line: "I was born with a dick in my brain, yeah fucked in the head.”
Em goes into Slim Shady mode and paints a brutal picture of child molestation from the perspective of the child. Evidently he made this song to “make people puke” (at one point he raps about raping a puppy) and not to express a true account from his childhood. Regardless of its origin, the verse, just like a lot of his work, sheds light on a dark social issue through the use of shock value. --RJ

8. "Rock Bottom" - Verse 2
Album: The Slim Shady LP (1999)
Best Line: “My life is full of empty promises and broken dreams/I’m hopin’ things look up, but there ain’t no job openings.”
Legend has it Em wrote this song after he lost the Rap Olympics in 1997. In it, he raps about the psychological toll that comes with living in poverty. Its second verse still remains one of the most heartfelt moments of his catalogue, as he touches on his inability to properly provide for his daughter. It also serves as a beacon of hope: Em was shortly signed to Interscope after he wrote it. --RJ

7. "Patiently Waiting" - Verse 2
Album: Get Rich Or Die Tryin' (2003)
Best Line: "Take some Big and some Pac and you mix em up in a pot/Sprinkle a little Big L on top, what the fuck do you got?/You got the realest and illest killers tied up in a knot/The juggernauts of this rap shit, like it or not"
Em and 50 teamed up for the first time on this track off 50's massive debut album, and Em went into full-on assassination mode, bragging about his lyrical ability and unleashing 50 on the hoards of haters taking shots at them. He then invokes 9/11 and makes a reference to the Shady offices being nearby the World Trade Center, implying that Al-Qaeda was coming at them, which turned out to be a little more than a topical lyric after rumors started flying that the terrorist organization had actually sent Em death threats after he dressed up as Osama Bin Laden in a video. --DR

6. "Forgot About Dre" - Verse 2
Album: The Chronic 2001 (1999)
Best Line: "Slim Shady, hotter then a set of twin babies/In a Mercedes Benz with the windows up/When the temp goes up to the mid-80s"
On one of Eminem's most popular collaborations, this essential track finds the spitter creatively crafting up a verse that leaves your head spinning. Detailing a wild and eventful night, the rapper effortlessly manages to intertwine multiple stories of several mischievous encounters in the same explosive verse. --MJ

5. "The Way I Am" - Verse 2
Album: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Best Line: "And it seems like the media immediately points a finger at me/So I point one back at 'em, but not the index or pinkie"
On the menacing, bell-filled second single off MMLP Eminem articulates the critique that would go onto to define his work for the next few years: the media has him all wrong. Responding to increasingly irate responses to his music, Eminem gets reflective and defiant in the song's masterful second verse, acknowledging the horrors of the Columbine shootings while retaining his shit-stirring attitude. By embracing and exploring his contradictions, Eminem only became a smarter, better rapper and "The Way I Am" could be the most direct and least self-serving summation of his position. As he says towards the end of the verse, the attacks only made him stronger. --DJ

4. "Lose Yourself" - Verse 1
Album: 8 Mile Soundtrack (2002)
Best Line: "His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy/There's vomit on his sweater already: mom's spaghetti"
At a certain point it becomes difficult to separate a song like "Lose Yourself" from its context—a song can only be blasted at sports stadiums for so long before it starts to lose its subtlety—but even if the opening guitar chords of this track make you think of a car commercial now, the words still take you back to a specific time and a place. "His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy," raps Eminem, transporting you to that backroom at a club and giving you a sense of the anxiety. It's easy to forget how quickly the verse moves, taking you from backstage to Rabbit's choke of a performance and all the way back to the trailer he calls home. It's the economy of language—so much narrative information packed in a tight verse—that makes the song's chorus hit like such a tidal wave of inspiration and relief. --DJ

3. "Just Don't Give A Fuck" - Verse 2
Album: The Slim Shady LP (1999)
Best Line: "I'm Nicer than Pete but I'm on a Serch to crush a Miilkbone/I'm Everlast-ing, I melt Vanilla Ice like silicone"
It's not always easy for Eminem to strike a tone of irreverence because he always seems to be trying really hard. When it comes to rapping, he's an obsessive overachiever, so even a song like "Just Don't Give A Fuck" is packed with obscure references, clever allusions and bits of coded wordplay. In the first two lines alone he name-checks a list of other White rappers, dismissing them with a maniacal ease and establishing himself at the top of the heap. But again, it's not enough for Eminem to just off you with a quick insult. He's aiming for total destruction: "I form like Voltron and blast you with my shoulder missiles." It's that type of tenacity that made Slim Shady not just an invigorating voice in hip-hop, but a genuine source of lyrical fear. He was gunning for everyone. --DJ

2. "Renegade" - Verse 4
Album: The Blueprint
Best Line: "See I'm a poet to some, a regular modern-day Shakespeare/Jesus Christ, the King of these Latter-Day Saints here"
"And Eminem murdered you on your own shit," rapped Nas on his legendary Jay-Z diss track "Ether," and he wasn't kidding. Though Jay has some startling lines of his own—"Do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it?" still stings—but Eminem's rampage on this track is legendary. The song's final verse again finds Em returning to one of his favorite topics: how the media doesn't get him. But here he has no sympathy for his detractors, coming at all of them with a barrage of increasingly absurd threats. "Go to war with the Mormons, take a bath with the Catholics/In holy water, no wonder they tried to hold me under longer," he raps towards the song's close, baiting his critics to come at him for his insensitivity. It's part performance, part self-critique. He's playing the role of the villain not because he wants to, but because the media will have him no other way. --DJ

1. "Stan" - Verse 4
Album: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Best Line: "I hope you get to read this letter, I just hope it reaches you in time/Before you hurt yourself, I think that you'll be doing just fine"
For all his clever wordplay and inverted syntax, Eminem's greatest asset as a rapper is his emotional vulnerability. Sometimes he has a funny way of showing his sensitive side, but in the final verse of "Stan," his iconic duet with Dido, he uses his skills as a storyteller to add a tragic dimension to a song that on the surface looks like a simple track about the perils of fandom. In less deft hands the song could have turned treacly or manipulative—the Dido hook definitely skirts uncomfortably close to sentimental goo—but Em is too gifted of a writer to let the narrative go off the rails. It's all about the details: the way he delivers the final verse as a letter, the hopeful but nervous quality in his voice and the haunting closing line. Instead of complaining about his fans or insisting on being left alone, Eminem offered something far more powerful: empathy.--DJ