Label: Aftermath, Interscope
A common theme for sophomore albums is to focus on the artist's struggles with the pressures of fame and fortune following their newfound success. For Eminem, this went beyond the standard cliches of paparazzi and groupies—it was him against the world. The focal point is "Stan," the tragic tale of an obsessed fan that is taken to such extremes and so vividly described that it has become forever embedded into pop culture to the point where "Stan" is now a slang term itself.
The intensity of the vocal performances on tracks like "The Way I Am," the dizzying flows of "Criminal," and the disturbingly vivid anger of "Kim" all demonstrate what a powerful lyricist Marshall had developed into since his major label debut (we're ignoring Infinite for the purposes of this list, and we're sure Em wouldn't begrudge the fact). Based on the raw emotion and technique alone, this is Eminem's most complete body of work.