Eminem: 50 Greatest Songs

The best from the bloody, bombastic, brilliant career of the hip-hop troublemaker

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5. "My Name Is" (1998)

Eminem's 1998 breakout single burst from the earliest meeting between the then-unknown MC and the storied producer Dr. Dre, who had been fiddling with a sample from Labi Siffre's 1975 soul strut "I Got The…" "I was, like, man, listen, I put this sample together – tell me if you like it. And I hit the drum machine, and maybe two or three seconds went by, and he went, 'Hi! My name is … My name is …," Dr. Dre recalled in the 2017 documentary The Defiant Ones. "Like, 'Yo, stop. Shit's hot.' That's what happened on our first day, in our first few minutes of being in the studio." Eminem's combination of nonstop pop-culture punch lines (he name-checked Nine Inch Nails, the Spice Girls, Pamela Anderson Lee and Kris Kross in the first verse), intricate rhyme schemes delivered in his Michigan drawl, cartoonishly violent imagery and a music video in which he gleefully parodied TV hucksters caused "My Name Is" to become a parental-advisory-emblazoned crossover sensation and MTV mainstay (albeit with heavy censoring). While it only peaked at Number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100, it won the Grammy for Best Rap Performance in 2000, establishing Eminem as one of hip-hop and pop's brightest talents.

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