7. Eminem "Underground" (2009)
It's always going to be unfortunate that Eminem dissed Relapse on his No. 1 single "Not Afraid." That allows the masses to write that album off like Eminem didn't come correct lyrically on a number of songs. Sure, "We Made You" was a bit dated and ultimately regarded a misstep, but Eminem is straight flexing his rhyming muscle all over songs like "3AM," "Insane," "Same Song & Dance," "Stay Wide Awake," and "Medicine Ball." Em's always had a grasp on multis that rivals and, in many instances, bests that of anyone in rap history.
All of the aforementioned songs are remarkable displays of that style, but the closer "Undergound" is the album's finest example. Eminem is rhyming nearly every other word he raps on this entire song. There are no one-word rhyme schemes. He makes sure that every word in one bar directly aligns and rhymes with every word in the following or preceding bar—it's wildly impressive.
Read these lines to yourself: "(He can't say that!) Yes he can/I just did, f*ggot, now guess again/Better text message your next-of-kin/Tell 'em shit's about to get extra messy, especially when/I flex again and throw a fuckin' lesbian in wet cement." A decade after his mainstream debut, Eminem was still spitting sinister raps, and antagonizing politically correct naysayers, but by the time "Undergound" came out, much of the shock had worn off. This didn't lower the acclaim because the song was such a return to form for Eminem, by lyrical standards and structure alone.
For the veteran Eminem, the content is still important, but it's these moments where he maintains the veracity of his youthful self that brings the most joy. No one else would start a verse with, "Six semen samples, 17 strands of hair/Found in the back of a van after the shoot with Vanity Fair," and simultaneously make you turn your head at the oddball hilarity of the scenario, but also, the stroke of genius that leads to someone rhyming "strands of hair" with "Vanity Fair." Many look to Em's chart-toppers of the following year as an affirmation of Eminem's return to dominance, but it's on "Underground" that the comeback was achieved. —Ernest Baker