Producer: Dr. Dre, Mel-Man
Album: The Marshall Mathers LP
Label: Aftermath/Interscope
His origins are in battling, yet Eminem's talents as a superb songwriter have been equally responsible for his rise. He makes it look easy, too, pumping out a steady stream of melodic mayhem, like "I'm Back," for instance, which has "lead-off single" written all over it, but ended up just another excellent album cut. The song is so well-structured and engaging it doesn't have to rely on pumping up the volume of the kids chanting "Slim Shady!" in the hook. Then there are the ambient sounds (nearly all his work is littered with humorous noises) that up the entertainment value even more. Last but not least, he unleashes that fearless comedy one has come to expect from him, in this case confessing his uncontrollable desire to stab J.Lo (in a good way): "I'm sorry Puff, but I don't give a fuck if this chick was my own mother/I'd still fuck her with no rubber and cum inside her/And have a son and a new brother at the same time/And just say that it ain't mine." Incredible. (And speaking of mothers, Em's shit-eating grin of a "Hi, Mom!" at the end is beyond mean, but undeniably funny.)