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Eminem's 7 Best Pre-Fame Freestyles

Before Slim Shady made him a global superstar, there was Marshall Mathers, one of the fiercest battle rappers in hip hop

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NETHERLANDS - JANUARY 01: Photo of EMINEM  (Photo by Michel Linssen/Redferns)
Michel Linssen/Redferns

Before his 1999 breakthrough Slim Shady album sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, Eminem was a battle rapper, freestyling in competitions to help make ends meet and destroying any rapper who dared get in his way. To celebrate this side of Marshall Mathers, we've compiled our favorite Em verses before he was famous.

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Rhymin' Words

Over Bad Meets Evil's "Scary Movies" instrumental, NYC DJ Stretch Armstrong feeds Eminem a litany of random words including "Preparation H," "Gasoline" and "Mark Wahlberg," showcasing Em's insane ability to rhyme words off the top of his head.

Classic line: "Animal crackers / I eat MCs like a cannibal backwards."

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'Wake Up Show' Freestyle

Over Notorious B.I.G.'s "Kick in the Door" instrumental, Em kicks two classic verses on Sway and Tech's L.A. radio program "Wake Up Show."

Classic line: "But I'm more towards droppin an a cappella that'll chop a fella / To mozzarella, worse than a helicopter propeller."

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The "Broke the Rubber" Freestyle

"Sorry for the cussin'." On one of Em's most profane verses, the rapper details romantic encounters with your mother and "chewing mushrooms in the lunch room."

Classic line: "Always talk shit high / Smokin' Chocolate Thai / So y'all can die / Just for walking by / Giving an awkward eye"

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Rap Olympics

In 1997, Eminem entered the freestyle competition Rap Olympics and destroyed most of the competition. While he ended up in second, losing to rapper/footnote Otherwize, these are some of Em's most creative, and fiercest, lines. 

Classic line: "I got so many ways to diss you that I'm playful with you / I'll let a razor slit you till they have to staple stitch you / And everybody in this fuckin' place will miss you / If you try to turn my facial tissue to a racial issue"

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The "Pale Face" Freestyle

A very young Eminem destroys a helpless battler over Real Live's 1996 track "Real Live Sh-t."

Classic line: "Not to brag, I don't mean to boast / Look my face is pale, but you look like you've seen a ghost"

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Sound Factory Freestyle

In 1999, Eminem performed a short set at New York's Sound Factory. As Rolling Stone reported at the time, "He will be greeted with indifferent stares that will melt into smiles, then rump-shaking abandon by the end of his four-song set."

Classic line: "The demon is here / I'm steamin' this year / I'll rip Mystikal's voice box out and scream in his ear!"

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The "Weed Lacer" Freestyle

Em returns to Stretch Armstrong, this time with his infamous "Weed lacer" verse that stands as one of his most aggressive and creative.

Classic line: "Spectacular, battle rap manufacturer / Stole your momma’s Acura, wrecked it, and sold it back to her"

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