Label: Aftermath, Interscope

Although it's not better than his magnum opus The Marshall Mathers LP, The Eminem Show is still one of the most brilliant rap albums of the past decade. In 2002, before drugs ravaged his life, Em was riding high off success. Mostly self-produced, the album found Shady rhyming over the best set of beats found on any of his solo albums. Meanwhile, his legendary wordplay was as sharp as ever.

Although the album didn't break much new ground thematically—aside from harping on politics a bit more than usual—Shady found new ways to discuss familiar ideas. Even well-worn subjects like his mother, his daughter, and the trials of fame were handled with a level of inventiveness. This success of this album, followed with the biopic later that year, would turn Em from controversial villain into unlikely people's champ and leave the entire nation chanting for an encore.