So, here's the thing; I like Eminem. I do think he has some great/iconic songs, and even some great albums (especially "The Eminem Show" and "The Marshall Mathers LP").
However, I have some issues with individuals acting as if he is the greatest lyricist to have ever lived, or as if he is a "top-five" rapper.
My opinion? Not really, on both accounts.
For one, his body of work is not consistently great. Yes, he has "The Eminem Show" and "The Marshall Mathers LP." Both of those were great albums where he demonstrated some of his best traits; his pushing of boundaries, his indifference for them, and his introspection. However, we tend to gloss over the rest of his work.
"Recovery"? Meh. "Relapse"? Nah. "Revival"? NOOOOO (For what it's worth, those three have Metacritic ratings of 63, 59, and 50, respectively). Especially on that last one. It needs to be burned.
Back to the point — despite some great albums, they do not help him sit atop the pile. I mean, none of them were groundbreaking albums, either, just capitalizing on popularity and infatuation with his style. Nas had "Illmatic," which changed the game. Kanye had an entire string of albums that inserted him into the discussion.
Look, I won't disagree that Eminem does discuss some serious issues in his lyrics. Drug addiction, contemplation over the past, the dynamic between him and Kim, his mother, the media, etc. He has even helped create those songs that inspire you ("Lose Yourself" still the best song he has ever made).
However, can we talk about the rest of his discography? The songs "Just Lose It" and "Big Weenie" ("You're just a big weenie")? Uhh? Alright. Anything off of "Revival" is just... Bad. Really bad.
There really is not much to say about it. "I'm swimmin' in that Egyptian river, 'cause I'm in denial."
Hell, "Encore" in general as an album is bad and simplistic (He even admits that the album could have been better if he hadn't been intoxicated during its production).
Even beyond that, his topics became kind of... banal. There always seemed to be the same types of songs. A song meant to make you laugh, a song meant to make you cry, consider your relationship with your mothers, the press, etc.
Eminem's music is also formulaic. Definitely not the only artist this could apply to, but it is an issue.
There is usually that song that demonstrates his quickness, the song about his mother/Kim/someone else, the one that is meant to make the listener laugh, and maybe it includes a political track (or, like "Revival," most of them).
It just... does not seem to vary as much. Maybe that's just a preference thing, I don't know.
Now, again, Eminem is still a great artist. He is definitely top 10. I just have some struggles with accepting him as a top-five rapper of all time.
He is definitely creative, and he can rhyme whatever words he is given. Plus, his freestyles simply cannot be surpassed.
However, his albums aren't consistently great, his lyrics vary, and his albums do seem too formulaic.
End of the day, it's my opinion, but everyone is certainly entitled to believe otherwise. :)