When it comes to gripping guest features, Eminem takes the cake. The idea of an elite rapper crashing the party to murder someone on their own joint is arguably the height of constructive competition in rap music. It's survival of the fittest incarnate, the chance for two or more MCs to square off face-to-face and settle debates once and for all (because we all know it’s as clear-cut as that). Any legendary MC knows they have to come correct on someone else’s song.
Eminem is one of those legendary MCs. His appearances on the Invasion mixtapes were bizarre to see from a pop star who had won a Grammy in the same year, but there he was, laying down some of the best verses of his entire life dissing Ja Rule and Zino Grigio. Between 2002 and 2003, his guest verses were scalding hot, blessing albums by 50, Xzibit and Obie Trice with show-stealing performances time and again.
We all know the time Em murked Jay on his own s---, the spine-tingling recognition that Shady Records was 80 seconds away from the towers on 'Patiently Waiting,' and his career-defining verse on 'Forgot About Dre,' but what about Marshall’s work with The Outsidaz? Slim’s Rawkus days? We liked that s--- he did with Ruckus too, that s--- was phat.
Last week, we incensed the Pitchfork-wielding Stans with our harsh but honest review of Eminem's new album, 'The Marshall Mathers LP 2.' Commenters thought the review was biased and unfair, like we were out for Shady's neck. To all the Matthew Mitchells out there, call this a peace offering. These are Eminem’s 25 Best Underrated Guest Verses.
50 Cent - 'Gatman and Robbin' (2005)
Best Line: “But let it be known there will be no sitdowns with no Daves and ‘Zinos, there will be no peace discussions with me / There ain’t gonna be no friendly debates over crumpets and tea.”
Nobody wants to remember ‘The Massacre,' that much is obvious. Em had just dropped ‘Encore’ a year before to the deafening response of "WTF," and only later did we learn that the album was a product of his heaviest drug usage to date. Still, with an annoying beat and an even cornier concept, Em freaks a ridiculous flow on here. It’s one of those 16s that doesn’t translate to paper -- it’s all about the way his voice almost becomes another instrument. Riding the incessant strings on the beat, Slim’s verse is hard to like at first, but after multiple listens, it’s nothing short of dazzling.
Lloyd Banks - 'Where I'm At' (2010)
Best Line: “F---ing see why they call this bulls--- a relationship, ships sink / And you know it’s love as soon as you fall in it cause shit stinks.”
An embittered Em whipped up this lengthy opening verse about a girl that did him dirty for a bonus track on Lloyd Bank’s forgotten ‘Hunger For More 2’ album. He tells the tale of a girl that he loved with every ounce in his body, but she didn’t love him back, and it’s turned him into a cold-hearted cynic. He could be talking about Kim, he could be talking about a fictional character. Or he could be talking about someone else.
Kid Rock - 'F--k Off' (1998)
Best Line: “So when you see me on your block, you better lock your cars / 'Cause you know I’m losin’ it when I’m rappin’ to rock guitars.”
Kid Rock is something of an unfortunate rapper, but when you have friends like Eminem, it doesn’t really matter, does it? Em wrecks the spot for “white boys who spike punch and light joints” on this, uh… .not-so-urban song. The thing about Marshall was that he could hop on any kind of track because he was always f---ed up in the head unapologetically himself, so these kindred Detroit spirits turn out to be effective rap and rollers together.
Missy Elliott - 'Busa Rhyme' (1999)
Best Line: “S---, if I get any higher / I’ma get the East and West beefing again, slide back to Detroit and stand in the crossfire.”
Technically, Missy had Slim Shady appear on her album, as much as she might have wanted Eminem. She gives the psychopath full carte blanche on which to splash blood and he takes full advantage, stringing together disgusting details like punching a girl in the nose ‘til her face explodes, hitting “a pregnant bitch in her stomach with luggage” (that was censored, even on the dirty version), and refusing to grow up because he’s covered in throw-up. The beat is a playground where Slim’s f---ed up imagination can run amok, and it even breathes life into his own house -- “F--- mouth, my whole house is foaming at the couch."
Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. - '911' Feat. B-Real (2003)
Best Line: “And you’ll be laying on the ground getting trampled by people dancing / ‘Til the club closes and clears out and that’s when they’ll see you flattened.”
B-Rab has got a handful of threats for challengers, as he walks them through how he’d destroy them if they ever stepped to him. When he starts getting into the specifics of how the crowd noise will drown out the gunshots, you know he’s been planning this one out. He also sums up the depressing state of rap with a succinct observation: “It ain’t about the music no more, it’s bout trying to show off."
2Pac - 'One Day At A Time' Feat. The Outlawz (2004)
Best Line: “If we could only learn to take, our anger and our hate / control our mental states, settle down and just set it straight.”
2Pac’s posthumous discography was always an iffy affair. As popular as 'R U Still Down?' was, tons of fans were upset with the creative decision to manipulate Pac’s voice on later albums like 'Loyal to the Game.' The soundtrack accompanying 2Pac’s documentary, 'Resurrection,' got a pass for including classics like 'Str8 Ballin’' and 'Panther Power' alongside popular newer releases like 'The Realist Killaz' and 'Runnin’ (Dyin’ to Live).'
At the time of the movie’s release, another single was being pushed on radio -- 'One Day At A Time (Em’s Version).' The song reimagined the original track from 1996 with Spice 1, and features an uncharacteristically dope beat by Eminem (sorry Slim). Best of all, however, is Em’s verse. Cool-headed and full of sorrow, he sounds like a mediator looking back on the beef that he was involved in and realizing how tragically other disputes ended up. After hearing nothing but pure hate spew from the Shady camp for years, it’s sobering to hear Em be both peaceful and a little regretful. It’s basically a precursor to 'Toy Soldiers.'
Xzibit - 'My Name' (2002)
Best Line: “I could have been like Treach, boom-bapped and slapped him / Purple, for mimicking him with two rapping Urkels."
Em sensed beef on the horizon and sent out a couple test missiles, but allusions to 'Ether' and s---ing on the stomachs of enemies didn’t hold back the slaughter from happening. At the time, he was already in a harangue with Canibus, and Dre had gotten into it with Jermaine Dupri for comments that JD had made in XXL about being a superior producer compared to Dre and Timbaland. Dre didn’t like that one bit, so he shot back on a song from 'The Eminem Show,' 'Say What You Say.' Here X gets his back while the ready-for-battle Marshall baits other challengers like an invincible demon.
DJ Kayslay - 'Freestyle' (2003)
Best Line: “You crazy? I’ve made beats for Jay-Z for free / Page me, you need a beat, You Canibus? Then it’s Dre’s fee. You Kayslay? The fee’s waived / I stay beefin’ with JD ‘til the day Dre two-pages me.”
Over the beat to his own song with 50 and Obie, Em lets loose about his love for rap while also being honest that he hasn’t even been putting his best effort into his verses lately. It’s a kicked back song that serves more as an overture from Em about why you should consider him the greatest, although who exactly is hitting up Em for beats? Not a good look.
Bizarre - 'Hip-Hop' (2005)
Best Line: “I’m triple platinum, I ain’t trying to catch no murder one / Figured I’d shoot to wound, probably miss with at least one”
Em fits a little story inside of this sprawling verse to explain his “three-bullet theory”, or why he only keeps three bullets in the chamber of his gun. He takes us through the Michigan law about a CCW license, how long it would take, and how he can’t wait around without defending himself. It’s a very zoomed in verse that offers a rare glimpse of Em talking about his actual guns instead of make-pretend ones that he waves around in Slim Shady songs. He knows exactly how many years he’ll get for each bullet, and he’s thinking about killing people that approach him before he even leaves the house. It takes a couple of listens, but it’s an impressive take on gun control (with both hands) and how hip-hop is equated with violence.
DJ Clue - 'What A Beat' Feat. Method Man & Royce Da 5'9" (2001)
Best Line: “Believe me, there’ll be just as many motherf---ing murderers and heroin users / Without Marilyn’s music.”
You have to wonder what DJs like Clue and Kayslay forked out to a superstar like Em for a feature. 'What the Beat' marked the first and only time that Wu-Tang and Shady would form like Voltron. Meth and Em are on equal footing, with Tical freaking a stutter-step style at the end of his verse while Em antagonizes critics who insist that his music spurs kids to commit violence and do drugs. Actually he does a little bit more than just egg listeners on -- he actually tells them to pick up a Glock at the end. It does raise the question of where morality starts and ends in music; rap fans like to defend Em in the name of artistic license, but you wouldn’t be hearing none of that if he was still using the n-word.
Fat Joe - 'Lean Back Remix' Feat. Mase & Lil' Jon (2005)
Best Line: “You don’t want no drama with the blond bomber / Original Don Dada of the blond bottle, the model from White America.”
Mase, Fat Joe, Lil Jon and Eminem have to be the last combination that anyone expected when this dropped. Marshall kicks a facile style, bigging up Cooked Coke Crack and Mr. Betha (though leaving Lil Jon out of the props section) while he adjusts to a poppy, club-friendly track. Just don’t ask him to dance -- he’s got a pistol in his pants.
The Anonymous - 'Green and Gold' (1998)
Best Line: “I done filled my lungs up with so much of this crack smoke / My neck’s bloated, my Tec’s loaded, I’m flat broke and I’m pissed off.”
As the legend goes, it was the day of the 1997 Rap Olympics when Eminem got up with Anonymous, a group consisting of Vesuveo, Able, Zinndeadly and DJ Drez, to cut a song called ‘Green and Gold.' Em had just been ousted out of the competition’s first place spot by Otherwize, and the day before he had to break into his own house to sleep on the floor because he’d been evicted. It’s pretty clear who got the better end of that fiasco in the long run, but Em must have been feeling desperate after his loss, so out comes a verse depicting a quick bus robbery and a carjacking, only to reveal the criminal’s slip-up in the last line. After the Rap Olympics, Jimmy Iovine scooped up the Detroit spitter and the rest was history, so this became the last underground feature that Eminem would ever do.
High & Mighty - 'The Last Hit' (1999)
Best Line: “My nine is lifting ya, six feet when I spray rounds / Hit you with 12 shots in mid-air and four more on the way down.”
Painting the picture of skeet-shooting human beings, Eminem takes a page out of Kool G Rap’s 'Ill Street Blues' with that image of pushing people into the earth with bullets. His sadism gets the best of him here, as he not only corners the market, but ties her up and gags it before grave-digging with his boy Marilyn Manson. High and Mighty was another Rawkus act that tapped Em’s talent alongside other features like Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, Defari, Cage and Kool Keith.
Outsidaz - 'Rush Ya Clique' (1999)
Best Line: “I can’t read, but I still write to my pen pals / I can’t fly, but I still float on cement clouds.”
Detroit rap group the Outsidaz were the first ones to put Eminem on, as he tagged along to the party on some of their early songs. Pace Won and Young Zee were two ill MCs who didn’t need any help, but Eminem breaks down syllables for the song’s highlight verse: “I can’t see 'cause my eyes already been gouged, out, I been, down, with the, Outz, for 10, thou-sand years.' On a related note, if you can hunt down Young Zee’s original copy of 'Musical Meltdown,' you won’t be disappointed.
Shabaam Sahdeeq - '5 Star Generals' Feat. A.L., Kwest the Madd Ladd & Skam (1998)
Best Line: “Went to bible class with a gun, blasted a nun / F--- hell, Satan sent my ass to the sun.”
Five thoroughly underground MCs connect on this Rawkus 12-inch by one of the most slept-on rappers in the label’s history, Shabaam Sahdeeq. Em pulls off a clean in-n-out spree of crazy s---, charting a progression from being hatched (not born) in the trash to the night he departed from his sanity. He’s got the sacrilegious streak of Nas with the twisted tone of the Gravediggaz combined in one human being that’s “crazy enough to shoot your ass with a knife and stab you with a gun." Brain damage.
Xzibit - 'Don't Approach Me' (2000)
Best Line: “So do I gotta buy a whole block to myself, a front door with 12 locks / And have a bodyguard walk me out to my mailbox?”
Seven months after the first 'Marshall Mathers LP' dropped and forever changed hip-hop’s architecture, Em was venting about his well-documented struggle with stardom on Xzibit’s 'Restless' album. With Dre executive producing, 'Restless' is bolstered with beats by DJ Quik, Battlecat, Soopafly, Erick Sermon, Rockwilder and the Doc himself, but Em handles production duties for his own appearance, and rightfully so.
Slim knows how to maneuver on his own beats better than he knows how to handle fans constantly walking up to his home to rubberneck or get an autograph. He mentions the Spin interview from 2000, which claims he was sticking guns in the faces of fans who approached his house (the interview also revealed that after being hounded by Dutch reporters in Amsterdam, he wrote a bunch of songs about them on the flight back for 'MMLP 1', which was originally titled 'Amsterdam'); “And I’m the bad guy, cause I don’t answer the door like, 'Hey, hi! / You guys want some autographs? OK, form a straight line!'” The entire second verse is one long explanation of why he curses his own celebrity status, and by the end you can’t help but sympathize: “It’s not that I don’t like you / It’s just that when I’m not behind the mic, I’m a person just like you."
'Go to Sleep' Feat. DMX & Obie Trice (2003)
Best Line: “There ain’t gonna be, no reasoning, speaking wit me / You speak on my seed, then me, no speak-a Ingles / So we gonna beef, and keep on beefing, unless / You’re gonna agree to meet with me in the flesh.”
Shots directly at the necks of Jeffrey Atkins and Raymond Scott with this one. You can tell that ‘Go to Sleep’ was recorded during the beef with Ja Rule and Benzino -- it sounds like it belongs on one of the Invasion tapes with that pounding, gunfire-accessorized beat and Slim’s dead serious threats. Ja said Hailie’s name on a record and her dad went ballistic after that, dropping verses like this one that made Ja choose jail over real life (at least he was safe in there).
Em’s meter is the centerpiece instead of his subject matter, proving that he’ll kill you any which way -- on wax or in person. His cadence and emphasis on certain syllables mirrors his delivery from 'When the Music Stops,' and his attitude is just as blistering as he spits poison in the face of enemies.
The Madd Rapper - 'Stir Crazy' (2000) (4th Verse)
Best Line: “I’m sicker than Boy George picturing Michael Jackson in little boys drawers shopping at toy stores.”
Produced by none other than Kanye to the (who ghostproduced for D-Dot during the Bad Boy days), ‘Stir Crazy’ contains iconic psycho bars from the guy who sounds like he’s about to jump out of your headphones and kick your ass. Whether it’s throwing strollers with babies in them or jumping into the tub with a cordless phone, Em’s second verse is pure insanity, the kind of s--- that would get any of us locked up in a mental house immediately upon exiting the booth. Slim really sounds like he’ll do everything he just said.
Masta Ace - 'Hellbound' Feat. J. Black (2001)
Best Line: “Battle? I’m too weeded to speak to, the only key that I see to defeat you / Would be for me to remove these two Adidas and beat you.”
Eminem has said many times that Masta Ace was a huge influence on his style, and it’s somewhat unclear how this collaboration came about. Some say that Em recorded his verses long before this song existed and Masta pasted them on here, but we don’t really care. It’s a must-have simply because two legends are rapping next to each other on it. Shady sounds like he’s in prime battle mode, talking about how he’ll leave you with open gashes strapped to a soaking mattress before spitting, “Coke and acid, black magic, cloak and daggers / F--- the planet, ‘til it spins on a broken axis." A mad scientist, a deranged killer, and a purveyor of the dark arts, all rolled into one sherm stick.
Da Ruckus - 'We Shine' (1998)
Best Line: “Ten-year-old kids be standin’ on the block with gats / Just for livin’ nowadays’ll get you flocked with bats.”
This is one of the more traditionally boom bap DITC-esque, mellowed out beats that Em touched, cloudier than the slow, melancholy stuff on 'Slim Shady LP.' The Detroit duo of rapper-producer Hush and Ill hooked up with another D12 member, Swifty McVay, for a feature on their debut album 'Episode 1,' but Em quickly makes everyone else obsolete with his opening bars -- “My Smith and Wessy got you layin’ in some alley messy / Got your family lookin for your ass on Sally Jessy." He’s still got one foot in the ‘Infinite’ style, even if the other ass cheek was on the toilet, inventing the Slim Shady persona at the time.
Thirstin Howl III - 'Watch Deez' (1999)
Best Line: “I’m the old man who lives upstairs and starves his pets / That never leaves his house 'cause he thinks his car’s possessed.”
Rawkus and Eminem recognized each other’s raw sound, so the label gave Slim some early exposure on select tracks throughout the years. Initially landing on DJ Spinna’s 'Heavy Beats Vol. 1' compilation and later reappearing on Thirstin Howl’s ‘Skilligan’s Island’ LP three years later, 'Watch Dees' is a vital lesson in the development of Eminem’s serial killer persona. Cutting off arms for drugs, bugs crawling out of his head, eating knives and screaming at his own shadow provide a nice bridge between Slim and Marshall’s respective LPs.
Royce Da 5'9" - 'Nuttin' to Do' (1999)
Best Line: “Forget a chorus / My metaphors are so complicated, it takes six minutes to get applause.”
Technically, this isn’t a guest feature by Em. He and Royce formed Bad Meets Evil before D12 even came into existence, and ‘Nuttin to Do’ was their first single with the better-known ‘Scary Movies’ as the B-side. In 2003, the song resurfaced on Royce’s ‘Build and Destroy Sessions,' which also housed disses towards D12 and Eminem, as they had fallen out at the time.
With a bouncy beat courtesy of Rob Reef (now the Music Director of Shade 45), 'Nuttin’ to Do' illustrates why idle hands are the devil’s workshop. At first, Em wants to “put a knife in an envelope and have you stabbed in the mail” as he smashes the glasses on your face and turns them into contacts. It’s all the ill wordplay that we know is par for the course with B-Rab, but the second verse is like a cross-section of his deranged mind: “I’m indoors, waiting for this acid to seep in my skin pores / to go outdoors and do some in-stores”. It’s hard to listen to any other rapper after two shutdown verses like these.
Bizarre - 'Trife Thieves' (1998)
Best Line: “You need to be immediately treated while you breathin’ / Or you’ll be leavin’ the receivin’ room this evenin’ with Jesus.”
One of Em’s earliest guest features is on a young Bizarre’s ‘Attack of the Weirdos’ EP, a fitting title for a guy who wears a shower cap to dinner. The song features Fuzz Scoota, who was in D12 early on but dropped out before their debut only to rejoin in 2011, and it’s produced by DJ Head, a Detroit native who was Eminem’s tour DJ for a minute as well as an essential part of production for Em’s first three albums. Slim is shining on this one, piling guys into Pintos and pile-driving them, smothering greasy guns with mustard so punks can eat them easier, and taking a hilarious swipe at Mase’s invisible eyebrows, a line he’d later reuse on Sway and Tech’s historic posse cut ‘The Anthem.' This kind of immaculate precision, informed by his utterly honest insanity, is what made Eminem an untouchable rapper for so long.
Old World Disorder - '3hree6ix5ive' (1998)
Best Line: “You know you’re spaced the f--- out like George Lucas / When your puke is, turnin’ to yellow with orange mucus.”
We even got the underground s--- that he did with Skam. Old World Disorder was Skam and Shadowman on the rhymes (Skam did this single’s artwork too) and they only released about five songs over the course of four years. Their first official 12-inch was ‘Shyalude/3hree6ix5ive’ and the B-side harbored a ferocious Eminem slinging more darts than drunk dudes at a dingy bar.
With DJ Spinna on the boards, Shady is unbelievable at every twist and turn, vaulting from psychotically disturbed (“Freak genius, too extreme for the weak and squeamish / Burn you alive ‘til you screamin’ to be extinguished”) to vividly direct (“I’ll take it back before we know each other’s name / Run in a ultrasound and snatch you out your mother’s frame “) to keenly self-aware (“You getting’ spun backwards like every word of obscene cursin’ / On the B-side of my first single with the clean version”). Every single line stings like product that’s been stepped on. ‘3three6ix5ive’ is without a doubt one of the most slept-on verses of his whole career.
Obie Trice - 'Lady' (2003) (2nd Verse)
Best Line: “We’ll be joined at the hip, I’ll be so latched to you / You’ll be walking out the house and I’ll run up and tackle you / Chain your ass up to the bed and shackle you.”
This song is the ultimate guest feature treat. You don’t think it can get better than Em’s first hopscotching verse, employing such a naturally embedded flow that it’s stunning to hear him produce actual words at every turn.
But the song’s final verse is a nail-biting finale. Eminem is flat-out hypnotizing as he goes completely 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' on a girl that he claims for his own -- he chains her to the bed, he brands his name on her ass, he forces her to wear sweaters in 80-degree weather. He’s an evil genius from an X-rated movie that couldn’t even get released in the States, let alone Mexico.
An unconscious blacking out, the reckoning of a voodoo spirit that consumes Eminem and makes him foam at the mouth. It’s a crop circle of a verse, so absurdly intricate in composition and cadence that you can listen to it on repeat ad infinitum and never stop being astounded.