If there's one thing we've learned by now about [artist id="502642"]Eminem[/artist], it's this: Never count him out.
The 38-year-old Detroit legend seemed like he was in a career funk last year with the release of the long-awaited but unevenly dark Relapse, which chronicled his near-death experience with drug addiction and left some fans a bit worried about whether he'd finally run out of lyrical magic tricks. But what a difference a year makes. Near the end of 2009, we began getting excited about the promised, more "emotionally driven" sequel, Relapse 2. Twelve months and an entirely different album later, Eminem has the year's best-selling release, handfuls of Grammy nominations and a fresh-eyed take on life that can only bode well for his next musical adventure.
2010 Highlights: As 2010 dawned, February brought Em joining Drake, Kanye West and Lil Wayne for a rousing, bleep-tastic performance of "Forever" at the Grammys with a tease of "Drop the World," his hookup with Weezy that hit screens and iPods a month later, bringing together two of hip-hop's biggest names for a rough-and-ready cut. He killed it again with his verse on B.o.B's "Airplanes Pt. 2" and then the shocking news broke April 14 that "there is no Relapse 2." Fans were dumbstruck, but not for long, as the MC clarified later that day that he would be dropping a whole new album called Recovery on June 22.
April's release of the first single, "Not Afraid," provided proof that Slim Shady would be taking a more positive, uplifting approach on his sixth major-label album, an encouraging note hammered home by lyrics on the song in which the rapper admitted that Relapse wasn't his best work. In the run-up to the release, "Not Afraid" debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and there was more cause for celebration when Jay-Z and Marshall announced a slate of hometown stadium shows, which would represent one of the few live appearances the Detroit spitter would make in 2010.
Then, despite leaking two weeks early, Recovery easily notched the highest debut of the year to date when it moved a gargantuan 741,000 copies in its first week, topping the charts for nearly two months on its way to selling more than 3 million copies to take the sales crown for 2010.
After crushing it with "Not Afraid," Em struck platinum again with an even bigger hit, his domestic-violence ballad "Love the Way You Lie," a duet with Rihanna that featured an iconic video starring Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan as the song's protagonists.
In between the gigs, though, Shady found time to open up the VMAs with performances of "Not Afraid" and "Love the Way You Lie" with a surprise cameo from Rihanna on a night when he took home two Moonmen.
By October, Em was talking about being in the lab with mentor Dr. Dre working on the latter's long-awaited Detox album and topping MTV News' Hottest MCs in the Game list. Eminem was also getting more shine for his duet with Nicki Minaj on "Roman's Revenge" from her Pink Friday debut and another collabo with Rihanna on her track "Love the Way You Lie (Part II)."
As 2010 came to a close, he could be heard on T.I.'s "That's All She Wrote" and had locked down a "Saturday Night Live" appearance with Lil Wayne for December 18. He wasn't done yet, as he led all artists with 10 Grammy nominations, landed at #9 on MTV News' Top Songs of 2010 with "Love the Way You Lie," took top spots on the album-sales chart on iTunes and Amazon.com and inked a deal to play a boxer in the "8 Mile" inspired "Southpaw."
Not bad, right?
We'll be revealing MTV News' #1 Man and Woman of the Year on Friday. As always, we want to know what you think, so share your picks in the comments below!