In toasting Eminem’s 40th birthday, we already tackled the Detroit rapper’s 40 greatest songs, but that’s only half the story.
Here, we’re ranking his 40 best collaborations, which mark some of his best work.
Eminem has collaborated with many artists over the course of his decade-plus career, but he’s been extremely choosy with whom he works, and in recent years has limited himself to only a handful of collaborations per year. (Compare that with 2 Chainz, who has probably done a half-dozen new verses since you started reading this sentence.)
Getting a verse from Eminem on your song is still a sacred thing, but for many artists it can be a tricky proposition — on almost all of these songs, he steals the show out from underneath his host (or hosts).
Here are Eminem’s 40 best collaborations, ranked from 40 to 1. You should know by now that most of them contain explicit lyrics.
(Click here to listen to them — or 90 percent of them, at least — as a Spotify playlist.)
40. Peep Show (50 Cent featuring Eminem, from “Curtis”)
A stripper song that makes “Smack That” sound romantic – and nuanced.
39. Warrior Part 2 (Lloyd Banks featuring Eminem, 50 Cent and Nate Dogg, “The Hunger for More”)
Em’s beat – built around an acoustic guitar loop and a series of click-clacks – outshines his verse on this track from Lloyd Banks’ debut album.
38. Chemical Warfare (The Alchemist featuring Eminem, “Chemical Warfare”)
Eminem spits a freestyle – or at least what feels like one – on his pal Alchemist’s track, talking about Sarah Palin, the Jonas Brothers and Octomom all in the course of 90 seconds.
37. Here Comes the Weekend (Pink featuring Eminem, “The Truth About Love”)
Pink showed up on Em’s track “Won’t Back Down” and he returned the favor here, rapping on her track about drinking pop – he’s sober now, remember – and labeling himself a mixture of Stifler and Steve Urkel.
36. Pistol Poppin’ (Ca$his featuring Eminem, “The County Hound EP”)
In one of his first verses after the death of his best friend Proof, Eminem addresses Proof’s passing but doesn’t delve too deeply into the situation, instead saying he’s tired of the beef and the violence that surrounds rap culture.
35. Go to Sleep (Eminem, Obie Trice and DMX, “Cradle 2 the Grave” soundtrack)
Angry, venomous, hateful – everything you’d hope for in a collaboration between Eminem and DMX.
34. Hip-Hop (Bizarre featuring Eminem, “Hanni Cap Circus”)
Em lends a hand to his D-12 buddy Bizarre and offers his thoughts on gun control as well as gun culture in the wake of his budding fame.
33. GATman and Robbin (50 Cent featuring Eminem, “The Massacre”)
Em’s superhero fixation manifests itself in this track where he rides a rising and falling beat modeled after the “Batman” theme.
32. Welcome to D-Block (Jadakiss featuring Sheek, Styles P and Eminem, “Kiss of Death”)
Em raps about a particularly bad block in Yonkers, a block “where Diddy won’t even walk” and where stick-up kids are always on the prowl, on this track with the Lox.
31. What the Beat (DJ Clue featuring Method Man, Eminem and Royce da 5’9”, “The Professional 2”)
Is Eminem crazy? “I ain’t crazy, I say s— that’s crazy to crazy people to make them believe I’m crazy so they can relate to me,” he says here. You got all that?
30. Throw It Up (Yelawolf featuring Eminem and Gangsta Boo, “Radioactive”)
Em calls himself a “trailer trash pioneer,” and his references to Burger King, K-Mart and Payless Shoes make his point for him. He also briefly adopts Soulja Boy’s “Pretty Boy Swag” flow, so there’s that.
29. Off the Wall (Eminem and Redman, “The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps” soundtrack)
Redman made the list of Eminem’s favorite rappers that he rattled off in “Till I Collapse,” and he rapped alongside his hero in this wacked-out track where he says he’s so off the wall he’s “a painting smashed on the floor.”
28. Lean Back Remix (Fat Joe featuring Lil Jon, Eminem, Ma$e and Remy Martin, “All or Nothing”)
Em’s never been one for dance crazes, but he teamed up with Fat Joe and friends for the remix of “Lean Back” and spat a series of cross-country geographical references while calmly explaining that he himself does not dance, at least not while carrying a gun.
27. Love the Way You Lie Pt. II (Rihanna featuring Eminem, “Loud”)
Eminem begins his verse on the Rihanna-led version of the pair’s hit “Love the Way You Lie” in a calm, controlled manner, but soon blows up into the same overheated yell-rapping that he uses on the original.
26. 911 (Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. featuring Eminem and B-Real, “West Koasta Nostra”)
Eminem is a featured guest, but his is the only voice that’s heard for the first two minutes on this track that he also produced. Who’s hosting who?
25. The Last Hit (The High & Mighty featuring Eminem, “Home Field Advantage”)
Em’s two verses on this song from the Philly rappers’ debut album are early Slim Shady orgies of syllables, including a line that rhymes “nurse in a purse” with “murdered virgin at church.”
24. My Name (Xzibit featuring Eminem and Nate Dogg, “Man vs. Machine”)
It sounds and feels a lot like “We Ain’t,” a track he’d later do with The Game, and Em spends a lot of time addressing his feud with Jermaine Dupri – remember that? – at one point adopting Nas’ “Ether” flow to hammer his point home.
23. Our House (Slaughterhouse featuring Eminem and Skylar Grey, “Welcome to: Our House”)
Em closes this song from his Shady Records signees and talks about his drive, saying rap was the only thing he was ever good at, and he proves it by rhyming “Renee Zell” with “raising hell.”
22. Touchdown (T.I. featuring Eminem, “T.I. vs. T.I.P.”)
Eminem welcomes listeners to the Midwest but raps his verse in a sort of Southern twang. Or perhaps that’s really what Midwesterners really sound like? Really hoping it’s the former.
21. Busa Rhyme (Missy Elliott featuring Eminem, “Da Real World”)
Classic early Slim Shady rhymes, stacking syllables on top of syllables, on a track that Missy pretty much lets Em have all to himself.
20. Don’t Push Me (50 Cent featuring Eminem and Lloyd Banks, “Get Rich or Die Tryin’”)
“I bullied my way in this game man, I’m done playing,” Em says in this raw, edgy verse from 50 Cent’s debut album.
19. That’s All She Wrote (T.I. featuring Eminem, “No Mercy”)
Eminem has a refined palate when it comes to hip-hop, but food? Not so much. “If you’re gonna tell me that A&W ain’t the spot for the best hot dogs,” he raps, “you can get the F on, dog.” Seriously, Em? A&W? Next time you want to go to Lafayette Coney Island just let us know, we’ll happily foot the bill.
18. Smack That (Akon featuring Eminem, “Konvicted”)
Eminem is in and out of this strip club anthem in a little more than 30 seconds, but his presence made the song a smash both inside and outside the gentleman’s club circuit.
17. I Need a Doctor (Dr. Dre featuring Eminem and Skylar Grey, single)
Doesn’t cover any new ground in the dynamics between Eminem and Dr. Dre, and Em is weirdly angry in the song, which leads to a way-too-serious tone. But Eminem and Dr. Dre at their least inspired are still better than 99 percent of producer-rapper teams in modern hip-hop.
16. Psycho (50 Cent featuring Eminem, “Before I Self Destruct”)
One of many collaborations with 50 Cent, “Psycho” stands out as one of the sharpest, thanks to Em’s twisty flow, with which 50 can hardly keep up.
15. We Ain’t (The Game featuring Eminem, “The Documentary”)
Not Em’s most focused or pointed verse, but he flows steadily over his own beat and the Game eagerly hands him the decision, practically bragging in the third verse that “Em just killed me on my own (song).”
14. Who Want It (Trick Trick featuring Eminem, “The Villain”)
“Ooh, wow,” Em says at the top of his verse, and manages to spin his entire verse returning to that rhyme scheme, an impressive and disciplined display of his mastery of flow.
13. Roman’s Revenge (Nicki Minaj featuring Eminem, “Pink Friday”)
Nicki Minaj plays characters in her songs perhaps better than anybody since Eminem, and the two dive off the deep end in this “Pink Friday” offering, though the whole thing is needlessly sullied by Em’s uttering of a certain six-letter homosexual slur that he should have long-since retired from his vocabulary.
12. Airplanes Pt. II (B.o.B featuring Eminem and Hayley Williams, “The Adventures of Bobby Ray”)
Eminem goes back and envisions a world where he never chased his dreams in this inspirational track from Atlanta’s B.o.B.
11. Drop The World (Lil Wayne featuring Eminem, “Rebirth”)
Eminem teams up with Lil Wayne and revs his creative engine, though the real payoff came on the pair’s next collaboration when Wayne showed up on Em’s “Recovery” album and the two squared off on the dizzying “No Love.”
10. Don’t Approach Me (Xzibit featuring Eminem, “Restless”)
Eminem had a busy summer in 2000, and he addresses it all – his weapons charges, his wife’s suicide attempt, etc. – in a pair of emotional, unfiltered verses that end with a plea for privacy from his fans.
9. Lady (Obie Trice featuring Eminem, “Cheers”)
Eminem explores his deep-seeded issues with the fairer sex in two twisted verses on this track from his pal Obie Trice’s debut album.
8. F*** Off (Kid Rock featuring Eminem, “Devil Without a Cause”)
The Detroit duo come together for the only time on Kid Rock’s breakthrough album, where a pre-fame Eminem claims “rum & Pepsi got your whole perception of me sketchy” before falling off beat and flipping the bird to the world at large. Every time either Rock or Em do a concert in Detroit, fans fantasize this song will be reproduced live, although it’s never happened – yet.
7. Dead Wrong (The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Eminem, “Born Again”)
Not an official collaboration, but Em clearly took this posthumous duet with Biggie Smalls seriously, spitting his verse in Biggie’s cadence and proving he was worthy to breathe the same air space as one of the greats.
6. What’s the Difference (Dr. Dre featuring Eminem and Xzibit, “2001”)
Em didn’t need to remind Dr. Dre how much he meant to him, but he did so anyway, and he spins his thanks into a tale about both killing his wife and making sure everyone appreciates Dre in a way only Eminem can.
5. Forever (Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Eminem, “More Than a Game” soundtrack)
Eminem had been more or less absent from rap for several years before appearing on this track, and he marked his return by absolutely burying his competition with a dexterous double-time rap that proved while he was willing to share the spotlight with his younger contemporaries he wasn’t willing to cede it to them.
4. Welcome 2 Detroit (Trick Trick featuring Eminem, “The People Vs.”)
Eminem could have collaborated with anybody, but he reached back to Detroit and grabbed Trick Trick and created a hard-nosed Motor City anthem, and elevated Trick Trick to the level of Detroit legend in the process.
3. Patiently Waiting (50 Cent featuring Eminem, “Get Rich or Die Tryin’”)
The first of many collaborations between Eminem and 50 Cent is still their best, with Eminem looping syllables like a madman (“don’t let me lose you I’m not trying to confuse you as I let loose with this Uzi and just shoot through your Isuzu”) and boldly claiming 9/11 was meant to be an attack on Shady Records.
2. Forgot About Dre (Dr. Dre featuring Eminem, “2001”)
Dr. Dre’s “2001” came out in the time between “The Slim Shady LP” and “The Marshall Mathers LP,” and Em’s contributions solidified him as a bona fide talent and a budding superstar. Em’s highlight was “Forgot About Dre,” in which he raps the song’s rapid fire chorus and spits a bonkers verse where he memorably says he’s “hotter than a set of twin babies in a Mercedes Benz with the windows up when the temp goes up to the mid 80s.” His dominance of hip-hop was right around the corner.
1. Renegade (Jay-Z featuring Eminem, “The Blueprint”)
So who wins this clash of the hip-hop titans? It’s not even close. Eminem, dubbing himself “the king of these rude, ludicrous lucrative lyrics,” turns in two of his most tongue-twisting verses ever, but always stays on-message – in this case, hip-hop culture and his place in it. On Jay-Z’s best album, Eminem steals his spotlight, one of the greatest tricks he’s ever pulled. Meanwhile the song, rightfully, has earned a place in hip-hop history.