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.
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."
"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"
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"
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!"
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"