Song: "My Name Is" (1999)
Album: The Slim Shady LP
In 1999, Eminiem had a lot to lose, and not just for himself. Before Dr. Dre released 2001, he put his reputation on the line for Eminem, a white rapper, at a time when white rappers were still a post-Vanilla Ice punch line (or making adult-contemporary music, like Everclear). For Dre, for rappers who were black, for rappers who weren't black, for the entire genre of rap, there was a lot on the line, let alone for Eminem. Which is why the first words on his first single needed to hit hard, and they did.
Eminem didn't just mock parents worried about the effects of rap by confronting the issue head-on, he sucker-punched them with it. He appealed directly to the audience America was scared of his music getting into the hands of: American Schoolchildren (though really, "kids" was anyone who was listening). And when it was all said and done—and by all, we mean, just that first line—Em had already brilliantly pre-empted criticism by declaring the concerns of scared parents and moral leaders his exact purpose in life. There couldn't have been a more perfect way he could've foreshadowed the totality of his work and the impact of it to come.
In other words: The opening line of "My Name Is" wasn't the first line Em ever rapped, but it might as well have been.