With the release of Recovery, Eminem has unleashed another batch of killer songs into the universe. As an album, it ranks right up there with his best work and contains at least three songs that feel like instant classics. For anybody arriving at Slim Shady's party a little late, a walk through his past work is essential, but the hits compilation Curtain Call isn't necessarily the place to start. For one, it doesn't include anything from Relapse or Recovery, which means that Eminem's comeback isn't represented at all. It also doesn't contain any of Em's most valuable guest spots, posse cuts or one-offs, making it woefully incomplete.
So just as we did with that new Oasis greatest hits album that hit stores last week, let's take a look at what songs we would keep, collect and kick to the curb on "Curtain Call."
"The Way I Am"
"My Name Is"
"The Real Slim Shady"
"Cleanin' Out My Closet"
Each one of these songs was not only a giant radio hit but also a solid artistic achievement for the rapper. Each one is catchy, powerful and brutally honest.
"Sing for the Moment"
"Like Toy Soldiers"
"Just Lose It"
"When I'm Gone"
All of these tunes are guilty of being too much of one thing or being somewhat redundant in the Eminem catalogue (for example, "Just Lose It" is essentially a less interesting version of "Without Me"). Eminem doesn't work terribly well with obvious samples, so "Like Toy Soldiers" and "Sing for the Moment" also get the boot. "Shake That" and "When I'm Gone" sound a bit generic, and the less said about new-to-this-collection "Fack," the better.
"'Til I Collapse"
The song that should have closed The Eminem Show takes one part Tupac and one part Queen's "We Will Rock You" and smashes them together for a tough, militant, authoritative track with a great hook care of Nate Dogg.
"Just Don't Give a F---"
One of Em's earliest singles is a funny, raw, unhinged smash that needs to be heard just so you can track where he began and where he was headed.
"Go To Sleep"
This three-way collaboration between Em, Obie Trice and DMX appeared on the soundtrack to "Cradle 2 the Grave" and is also the best of Slim's diss tracks against Ja Rule. Combine the fun house beat with some great rhymes about fisticuffs and you've got one of Em's more bracing, in-your-face tunes.
Eminem rarely got political and Encore was extremely uneven, but "Mosh" saw him firing on all cylinders. Cut during the 2004 election cycle, the song is one of the best rants against George W. Bush ever recorded (and for those who don't remember, there were no fewer than 10,000 of those that came out during Bush's tenure in office).
"What's the Difference"
This cut from Dr. Dre's 2001 only features one Eminem verse, but it's so unbelievably killer and the beat serves Slim so well that it belongs on his compilation. "Forgot About Dre" sort of exists in the same idiom.
This tossed-off piece of riffing from Rawkus' Soundbombing II compilation has been lost to history. That's a shame, because it's one of Em's sharpest rhymes over an un-fussy, gritty beat.
Buried in the middle of D12's debut album Devil's Night lies one of the purest horrorcore tracks Em and company have ever produced. Not only is he responsible for the beat, but the rhymes are that stuff that nightmares are made of.
"Won't Back Down"
Em's rock-friendly duet with Pink on Recovery will be conquering a radio playlist near you extremely soon, and it seems destined to be an all-time classic in Eminem's career.
The second D12 album D12 World is pretty spotty, but "How Come" (buoyed mostly by Em and late cohort Proof) is a sharp track about relationships that also has a chorus you can sing along to.
What songs would you put on an Eminem compilation? Let us know in the comments!