6. Eminem "Forever" (2009)
Album: More Than a Game
Label: Zone 4/Interscope/Shady/Aftermath
The final verse in the all-star collaboration between Drake, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, and Boi-1da, Eminem's take was as much conversation starter as it was conversation stopper, as in, anybody who had written off Eminem at this point in light of his then-recent album output (Relapse) was definitively shut up. Not only could the man still be part of a hit single, but he can be the knockout performance on it, too, even alongside such of-the-moment names as Drake and Wayne and superstars like West, who were on a creative crossover tear through much of 2009.
Eminem's flow on the song is red-line speed for him, and the verse is over before you blink. If you don't? You'll catch double-entendres, triple-entendres, shots at other rappers (namely, Gucci Mane), and classic Eminemisms ("This shit is exactly what the fuck we talk about when we riot") in perfect track cadence, precisely aligned to power right through speakers, growls, bass notes, clenched teeth, consonant-pops and all, for the singular and rapturous effect that only Eminem at the top of his game can deliver. And of course Eminem was reportedly unhappy with the way it turned out, even after the accolades from fans and 'heads and other rappers poured in. It's the kind of malcontentedness we should expect and want in other artists still set on regularly proving their worth. It's telling that we get it from so few, and that Eminem, we learned, was still one of them. —Foster Kamer