7. Eminem, 'The Marshall Mathers LP'
"They said I can't rap about being broke no more," cried Eminem over the opening bars of his second album. Lucky for him, there was lots that he could rap about: celebrity and its discontents; Oedipal fantasies; murder fantasies; arson; self-mutilation; drug addiction; Britney Spears; Fred Durst; "Blood, guts, guns, cuts/Knives, lives, wives, nuns, sluts." The result was a masterpiece of psychodrama, 18 tracks that solidified Em's position as the new decade's most fascinating pop star and rap's most inventive new voice. Moralists slammed Eminem for everything from homophobia to misogyny to inciting America's teens to kill their . . . wives? Push past the surface, though, and Slim Shady's peppy pop-culture spoofs ("The Real Slim Shady"), macabre short stories ("Stan") and horror-movie narratives ("Kim") are distinguished not so much by their shock value as their sheer rhyme skill. Hip-hop fans knew what they were hearing, though, and responded right away to raw virtuoso displays like "The Way I Am."
• Rolling Stone's Original 2000 Review