Eminem has always been very selective when it's come to signing rappers to Shady Records. Since launching his label back in 1999, he has signed less than a dozen acts to it. But really, can you blame him for being so fussy? When he signs artists, he's not just looking for someone who can sell a lot of records for him. He's also looking for rappers who can jump on Shady collaborations as needed and hold their own with other artists in the Shady stable. Collaborative efforts have played a big part in the success of the label over the years.
There have been quite a few of them that have been recorded, too. From songs featuring former Shady acts like Stat Quo, Bobby Creekwater, and Ca$his to classics starring heavyweights like 50 Cent, G-Unit, and, of course, Eminem, Shady was built, in part, on the strength of their collaborations. So with the label celebrating 15 years in the game this year, we decided to gather The Best Shady Records Collaboration Songs, a reminder that Shady artists have time and time again brought out the best in one another.
When you're done reading, test your Shady Records knowledge over at Rap Test.
Written by Chris Yuscavage (@CYuscavage)
11. Eminem f/ Dr. Dre & 50 Cent “Crack a Bottle” (2009)
On 2009’s Relapse—his first solo album since 2004's Encore—Eminem didn't feature many guest appearances. There were plenty of Shady artists he could have turned to, but for the most part, he went at it alone on the project. However, for the album's promotional single, he did call on Dr. Dre and 50 Cent to recreate the magic that the three had captured on 2004's "Encore." And while "Crack a Bottle" wasn't quite as strong as that one was, it was a way better track than the album's first real single, "We Made It," and reminded people that Em, Dre, and 50 were still riding together, despite the long break that Slim Shady took from making music.
10. Eminem f/ Bobby Creekwater, Ca$his, Obie Trice, & Stat Quo “We’re Back” (2006)
Album: Eminem Presents: The Re-Up
At this point, you know that three of the four rappers who spit verses alongside Eminem on this song didn't end up dropping full-length albums on Shady Records. Stat Quo, Bobby Creekwater, and Ca$his were all full of promise when Shady signed them, but they came and went without putting out official projects. That doesn't mean that they didn't leave their marks on the label, though. On this particular track, which was one of the few standouts from Eminem Presents: The Re-Up, those three artists proved that they belonged on the Shady team. And while they were aided by a strong Em verse at the beginning of the song—Em sounded like he was frustrated with rap fans, which forced him to go extra hard—they held their own alongside one of the greatest rappers of all time.
9. Obie Trice f/ Kuniva, Bobby Creekwater, Ca$his, & Stat Quo “Cry Now (Shady Remix)”
Album: Eminem Presents: The Re-Up
There's one thing that you’ll notice about every single song that's on this list: Eminem is on all of them. It makes sense, seeing as how Shady is his label. But it's worth noting that there have been great Shady collaborations that didn’t feature Slim Shady. Take "Cry Now (Shady Remix)," for example. It built off the success of Obie's original song and allowed D12's Kuniva, Bobby Creekwater, Ca$his, and Stat Quo to show off their skills without any assistance from the big homie. This was a show and prove session for the lesser-known acts on Shady and all five of the artists on it delivered.
8. Bad Meets Evil f/ Slaughterhouse “Loud Noises” (2011)
Album: Hell: The Sequel
Slaughterhouse—a collective consisting of Crooked I, Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, and Eminem's longtime friend Royce Da 5'9"—was the perfect group for Eminem to sign back in 2011. Not only was their self-titled 2009 debut critically acclaimed, but the group's members fit the mold of what Eminem had always looked for when signing artists. If you had any doubts about that, though, this song proved why Slaughterhouse was a great fit for Shady Records. All four members more than held their own on Em and Royce's Bad Meets Evil project and showed that they were ready to run with Shady.
7. Eminem f/ G-Unit “Bump Heads” (2003)
Album: Invasion, Part 2: Conspiracy Theory
The beef between 50 Cent and Ja Rule is obviously very well documented. 50 really hated Ja at the beginning of his career, and there's no shortage of songs that feature 50 taking aim at his foe. But on this particular track, 50 only did the hook and let Eminem, Tony Yayo, and Lloyd Banks get at Ja for him. Em didn't pull any punches on his verse, either, as he accused Ja of wanting to be DMX and 2Pac and talked about how he loved dancing to Ja's music with his daughter Hailey. The song made it very clear that 50's enemies were also Em's enemies and that Shady Records was ready to go to war with Murda Inc.
6. Eminem f/ Dr. Dre & 50 Cent “Encore/Curtains Down” (2004)
Even Eminem has admitted that Encore wasn't his best effort by any means, but the album did feature one great Shady collab that doubled as the album's title track. It featured production from Dr. Dre, verses from Em and Dre, and a brief hook from 50 that made this one of the strongest cuts on the album. This song definitely saved Encore from ending on a sour note.
5. Eminem f/ 50 Cent, Ca$his, Lloyd Banks, & Tony Yayo “You Don’t Know” (2006)
Album: Eminem Presents: The Re-Up
In late 2006, Shady Records was stuck in a slump. After overachieving in the early 2000s thanks to successful debuts from D12, 50 Cent, Obie Trice, and G-Unit, sophomore projects from D12, 50 Cent, and Obie Trice didn't move the needle like before while Em released Encore in the midst of his drug addiction. So there were some people doubting Shady's future. This track—produced by Em—put those doubts to bed. Not only did it feature strong verses from 50, Em, and Lloyd Banks, but it also introduced the world to Shady's newest artist Ca$his and helped Shady reassert itself. Unfortunately, the album that the song appeared on, Eminem Presents: The Re-Up, didn't really build on the momentum that this song created. But if nothing else, "You Don't Know" was a reminder that Shady was still more than relevant.
4. Eminem f/ 50 Cent & Obie Trice “Love Me” (2002)
Album: 8 Mile
On the surface, this sounded like a song about love. The hook—"I just wanna love ya, for the rest of my life…"—was relatively non-threatening (minus the insane ad-libs) and the beat, which was produced by Eminem, didn't hit you over the head like a lot of Em's other productions did at the time. But the song didn't feature Obie Trice, Eminem, and 50 Cent rapping about love interests or being in love. Instead, the three turned the track on its head and rapped about why people should love them. Obie pointed out his never-ending grind, Em reflected on all of the characteristics that made him a unique MC, and 50, well, 50 name-dropped everyone from Lil' Kim to Ashanti in an effort to stir up shit. What's not to love about that?
3. 50 Cent f/ Eminem & Lloyd Banks “Don’t Push Me” (2003)
Album: Get Rich or Die Tryin'
On 50 Cent's debut album, he collaborated on two songs with Eminem. Both of them were stellar. And while we'd argue that the other track, "Patiently Waiting," had a bigger impact, "Don't Push Me" featured solid contributions from 50, Em, and Lloyd Banks—the three best lyricists on Shady at the time. Over Em's menacing production, the three rappers discussed why you shouldn't get on their bad sides and made very compelling arguments for why they weren't to be fucked with. "Motherfuckers envy the kid, control your jealousy," 50 rapped, "Cause I can't control my temper, I'm finna catch a felony!" If Shady's mission was to scare people, they accomplished it on this track.
2. Obie Trice f/ 50 Cent, Eminem, & Lloyd Banks “We All Die One Day” (2003)
When this song was recorded, it was still a little bit unclear how well Shady Records as a whole was going to gel together. Sure, Eminem's first couple solo projects had turned him into a superstar. 50's debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin', had launched him into another stratosphere, too. And it appeared as though Obie Trice and G-Unit were going to be solid additions to the Shady team. But how would they all sound on the same track? This song answered that question decisively by proving that, despite their differences, Em, 50, Obie, Lloyd Banks, and Tony Yayo all had one common goal: to push Shady to the forefront of rap.