Eminem is one of the most recognisable artists of all time. Which means every song he puts out has a tonne of ears listening — some praising, some scrutinising.
It’s a delicate balance, but when the dust settles, too often, only those with the most mass appeal are fondly recalled.
However, beneath the soil lie diamonds in the dust, waiting to be found, listened, and ultimately, remembered.
Good news, I’ve just found 10 diamonds and I’m happy to share.
An angry and frustrated Eminem wrote Rock Bottom on the day he got fired, lost his savings, and got evicted.
Here’s what Shady had to say about that unfortunate day:
“Rock Bottom” was (sigh) another song done between the EP and LP. I didn’t know when I wrote it that it was going to come out that sad. I had actually meant to be an uplifting song, but when we were sitting around making the track, Head had a sample that we played the beat and it was just so sad.
I said fuck it, let’s go with this one. Not surprisingly, I wrote it while I was going through a fucked-up time.
The night I recorded the song, I had taken a bunch of pills, thrown up, and was just real fucking depressed. So I took a bunch of codeine tablets. Problem was, I took too many of them shits and got real sick.
When I wrote the song, it was right before the Rap Olympics happened. It was during the week when I had gotten evicted from my house. I was stayin’ across the street from where I used to live.
It was a street called Novara out in Detroit. I was staying with these two roommates, and this dude told me that he had cheaper rent for me and I should come live with him.
We said, “Okay, he’s got cheaper rent, then fuck it, we’ll move in his house.” So me and my boy went across the street to live with him. We were paying out rent to him, but the s.o.b. was keeping our rent and wasn’t paying the landlord.
He took the rent, saved up his own money, and bounced on us. So one day we come home and all our shit’s on the fuckin’ front lawn. We never could catch the motherfucker.
Till this day, we haven’t caught him. It was a real fucked period in my life (no surprise there), and I felt like I had hit “rock bottom”.
I think this is Eminem’s most underrated song out there, it comes from a place of true darkness, despair, and hopelessness.
All She Wrote (Solo)
A song compiled from Eminem’s unused verses, this track is a testament to how much great material he throws away.
It’s numerous punchlines, flawless flow, and thuggy beat make this the perfect track to listen to when you just want to hear something satisfying.
Go To Sleep (Ft. DMX)
If you though Killshot was a good diss-track, this underrated Eminem song is miles ahead.
Shady spits pure vitriol against Benzino, owner of The Source magazine, the pinnacle of rap reviews at the point.
It all started when Benzino changed his mind about Eminem, and said this when the reporter asked him if Shady was the greatest white MC ever:
“We come from the same neighborhood and he ain’t got no street credibility. He ain’t no gangsta or soldier. He was in the basement practicing his skills while the real world was going on outside. He’s catching these bullshit cases. Smacking up John Guerra, the one who was kissing his wife, with an unloaded gun. In the song, Eminem’s saying that he’s 6’2″ and that ain’t the case. John Guerra is 5’4″ or 5’2″. What kind of tough guy are you?”
This statement was compounded by the fact that Benzino refused to give Eminem’s albums a full rating, despite them garnering worldwide praise.
The repercussions of this track were astounding. The Source magazine lost all credibility and finally shut 6 years after this song’s release.
On this song Eminem worships, exalts and sanctifies his daughter, who will always be his immaculate and impeccable.
This track’s lyrics invoke deep sadness, there’s something so honest about it. And a surprisingly well-sung chorus only makes this a criminally underrated Eminem song.
Eminem speaks to Slim Shady, his drug-deranged alter-ego, and asks him to leave him alone.
It’s a haunting back-and-forth with himself. The rhyme schemes on this track are perfection, and the picture he paints in your head is horrific.
I connected to this song on a deeper level because I’m a writer too.
Eminem tells a semi-autobiographical story with this track, talking about how his nerves keep getting the better of him. How he can’t spit on stage, can’t write a bar to save his life, or believe in himself enough to chase his dream.
But the story goes from hopeless to hopeful in 3 minutes.
And the ending of the last verse of this song instills new hope, both in the listener, and Eminem himself.
After Revival got dumped on, Eminem returned with the same old vengeance that made him special.
I love the rage on this one, it reminds me very much of Shady on MMLP. It also marked the return to form after a poor album and put him on the path to Kamikaze.
PS: A lesser known fact about this song is that its last verse is faster than “Rap God”.
On “Rap God”, Em spits an astounding 1,073 syllables in the course of 3 minutes and 5 seconds, which comes out to an average 5.8 syllables per second in the 3rd verse.
On the other hand, he spits 789 syllables in 2 minutes and 12 seconds on the Chloraseptic remix, which averages out to 6 syllables per second, easily surpassing Rap God.
An underrated Eminem song? Very much yes.
97′ Bonnie & Clyde
A demonstration of masterful story-telling.
This underrated Eminem has Marshall running off with Hailie after having murdered his ex, Kim, her new lover, and her stepson. He later goes more in detail about why he did it in The Marshall Mathers LP’s “Kim.”
Guilty Conscience (ft. Dre)
In this classic song, Eminem and Dr. Dre play the Devil and Angel who decide on the outcome of 3 different scenarios.
Dre wins the first battle whereas Eminem wins the second. In the third case, the two agree that the bad thing to do is actually the “morally right” thing to do.
Yellow brick road
Eminem takes us back to the old days when he just started dating Kim and the first time he met his best friend, MC Proof.
Vivid imagery and an ever-changing flow transport you to 8 mile. This track is a diamond in the dirt.