1. 8 Mile
Release date: October 29, 2002
Record label: Shady/Interscope
Ever the perfectionist, Eminem put as much work into the 8 Mile soundtrack as he did into his eye-opening, superb performance in the fictionalized, quasi-biopic. Appearing on four of the LP's 15 tracks (three of which are solo), the film's lyrically proficient star treated the soundtrack as a two-fold enterprise: One, it's an exhibition of some of his own sickest examples of verbal acrobatics (the towering single "Lose Yourself"; the breathless and mesmerizing "Rabbit Run"), and, two, it's a one-stop shop for Em's favorite rap game peers to flex their vocal muscles.
On the Shady Records end, 50 Cent's breakthrough single "Wanksta" pairs well with the Queens heavyweight's similarly memorable album cut "Places to Go." Outside of Shady, Nas serves up the ego-massaging "U Wanna Be Me," and Jay-Z, along with Freeway, rocks over an Eminem-produced instrumental on "8 Miles and Runnin'." More of Em's personal heroes show up on the smoldering Gang Starr gem "Battle" and Rakim's don't-forget-the-name call to arms "R.A.K.I.M."
Hearing those rap legends show and prove helps to alleviate the ear strain felt from listening to 8 Mile co-star Taryn Manning's (as Boomkat) "Wasting My Time." It's the "Braveheart Party" to this soundtrack's Stillmatic.