Eminem’s Relapse turns 10 years old today. A dark, disturbing and often hilarious album, Relapse was Em’s taxi ride back to the blinding limelight after a five-year, addiction-fueled hiatus.
Billed as a “relapse” to his Slim Shady persona, the album was purposely constructed as the most disgusting thing you’ll ever hear, and true to form, it's a puke-inducing scattergun of multisyllabic vulgarity aimed directly at your impressionable young son.
But even in the midst of the album’s most gruesome moments, of which there are literally quadrillions, Eminem remains a little kid in a candy store—albeit, a little kid who needs years and years of intense therapy, but still.
Sure, Em himself has admitted he hates the album, but that hasn't stopped it from achieving cult status among his stanbase. Despite the very real demons that he exorcised in crafting and releasing Relapse, its charm is that it sounds like Eminem actually had a good time making it. It's like an episode of South Park but written by Stephen King.
Relapse sounds like a “how many violent dick jokes can I shout before someone tries to decapitate me” science experiment. If you simply sit back and embrace the depravity, though, it’s oddly glorious. Eminem wasn’t trying to make radio hits nor was he trying to inspire fans; he just wanted to gross us all out. And in that regard, holy shit does he succeed.
In honor of the album hitting double digits, I’ve collected and ranked the five most disgusting tracks on Relapse. Crank the volume knob, say a prayer and grab the barf bag.
5. “3 a.m.”
Much like Netflix execs and white goth girls who think they’re interesting, Eminem is obsessed with serial killers, and on “3 a.m.,” he checks off all the boxes. Weird ass accents? Check. Buckets of blood? Check. Pill references? Check.
Thanks to Marshall, “3 a.m.” will forever be associated with shoving flashlights up Kim Kardashian’s ass. Thank you, Marshall.
I showed my mom the music video for “3 a.m.” the day it came out. She didn't forgive me until like six months ago.
DISGUSTING LEVEL: Watching a The Human Centipede marathon on Nick At Nite.
4. “Medicine Ball”
If Em were a stand-up comic, “Medicine Ball” is the bit where he purposely tries to get half the audience to storm out. Listening to this track now feels like rewatching a Louis CK stand-up special and noticing all the red flags you previously ignored.
Punchlines about castration, eating aborted fetuses, and throwing Christopher Reeve—who had been dead for five years at the time—in quicksand has the rap game Andrew Dice Clay on his knees begging for a “Has Eminem Gone Too Far” thinkpiece.
The hook proudly proclaims “I guess it’s time for you to hate me again,” a line directly stolen from every drunk text I’ve sent to an ex. What a poet.
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DISGUSTING LEVEL: Going to a strip club at noon.
3. “Same Song & Dance”
In some states, it’s a felony to play “Same Song & Dance” in the presence of a child. In fact, Em deserves a Nobel Prize for releasing it and still having the courage to go out in public.
What sets this record apart from most of the Relapse tracklisting, however, is how infectiously catchy it is. You could easily mistake “Same Song & Dance” for a radio banger if you didn’t listen to the lyrics, but it’s damn near impossible to ignore bars about hanging Lindsay Lohan and impaling yourself on an elephant tusk.
Also, the song samples Metallica—which is the whitest sentence ever. If you say “Eminem samples Metallica” three times while looking in a mirror, you will magically morph into a sentient can of Axe Body Spray named Travis.
DISGUSTING LEVEL: A disgruntled Trump devouring KFC buckets at 1 am in the Lincoln Bedroom.
2. “Stay Wide Awake”
This one reaches “Don’t play it around grandma ‘cause she’ll literally have a heart attack” level of crude creepiness. The complex puzzles of multi-syllable word salad that has permeated Em’s lyricism for the past decade is displayed on “Stay Wide Awake” in the most dazzling way possible.
The hook “Soon as my flow starts / I compose art like the ghost of Mozart” grabs you by the throat and yanks your hair out, and that’s before Eminem incinerates infants and shoves an umbrella up a woman’s… yeah, I don’t need to finish that sentence.
“Stay Wide Awake” ignores the absurdist humor that defines most of Relapse’s bloodier songs and is just straight terrifying. This is the sonic equivalent of a Port-A-Potty at Oktoberfest.
DISGUSTING LEVEL: Moving to Florida.
This is IT, folks. “Insane” is the number one most cartoonishly offensive song in a career full of them.
“Insane” is Em screaming his most unspeakably ghastly thoughts into a megaphone outside your apartment window while you’re trying to sleep; a song so overwhelmingly repugnant that even those with titanium stomachs would spit out their morning latte upon hearing the first hook.
With an arsenal of jokes about bestiality, suicide, incest, and pedophilia, “Insane” is essentially a Mad Libs book where every space for an adjective is “something horrific.”
“I was born with a dick in my brain / yeah fucked in the head / My stepfather said that I sucked in the bed” was a Socrates quote, right?
Pray for this man.
DISGUSTING LEVEL: Reading the comments on a DJBooth article on Facebook.