10 Best Eminem Album Covers Ranked & Explained

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Let’s take a deep dive into the most iconic Eminem album covers of all time.

Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, is widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers of his generation. He is a hip-hop innovator who, across three decades, has played a pivotal role in popularising the genre and bringing it to a wider audience. 

Yet for all his impact on the global music landscape, the Missouri-born and Detroit-raised superstar’s lasting effect on album artwork is often overlooked. Eminem’s album covers are highly creative and spawn some fascinating connotations and messages.

But which of Eminem’s album covers are his best?

10. Revival (2017)

Billboard 200 Peak Position: 1

Revival was Eminem’s eighth consecutive album to top the US Billboard 200 with 197,000 sales in its first week. He also became the first musical act to achieve eight number one entries in a row.

The album cover itself is a subtle mix of two main images, the American flag paired with an opaque glimpse of Eminem, head in hands and wearily covering his face.

This design is both artistic and emotive. This is the first Eminem album cover to depict its title with letter E not reserved or ‘flipped’ and prompted fans to suggest it went against everything he stood for. 

Also fuelled by poor advertising, this album’s imagery was criticised for stirring false perceptions of political themes yet there are seemingly only two songs on the LP that have notions of political leanings. 

9. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013)

Billboard 200 Peak Position: 1

The Marshall Mathers LP 2 marked a definitive return to form for Eminem when compared to the mixed reviews his previous three albums had received in some quarters. 

It “recaptures the original release’s wild, clever and emotional brilliance,” wrote a reviewer for USA Today.com, “in a flurry of caustic, brazenly honest, rapid-fire rhymes and aggressive beats.”

The album cover recalls imagery of his first Marshall Mathers LP which was released over a decade earlier. Simple yet artsy and pleasing on the eye, this central image focuses for a second time on Eminem’s childhood home in North East Detroit.

On its door is scrawled the five digit number ‘19946’ that refers to its address on Dresden St. 

Within days of the album’s release, the house in question mysteriously went up in flames and has become the most famous abandoned structure in the city. In repeating the image of his former home there are clear relationships to some of the LP’s tracklist including ‘Groundhog Day’ and ‘Legacy.’

8. Music To Be Murdered By (2020)

Billboard 200 Peak Position: 1

Music To Be Murdered By sold 297,000 copies in its first week of sales making Eminem one of only six artists to release ten number one albums in the US. Of those stars he remains the only one to record ten chart topping LPs in a row.

The title of this ‘pandemic made’ record and its cover art are both inspired by the ideas of revolutionary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, taking inspiration from his 1958 spoken word album of the same title.

One of the alternate promotional motifs for this album is a mimicking of the main concept from the groundbreaking director’s LP where like Eminem, Hitchcock too holds an axe in one hand and a gun to his head with the other.

7. Kamikaze (2018)

Billboard 200 Peak Position: 1

Eminem announced his return to a more aggressive style with the release of 2018 LP Kamikaze. This album is infamous for its controversial ‘diss’ tracks that seemingly attack various artists such as Lil Pump, Vince Staples and even legendary hip-hop producer Dr. Dre.

The cover art is an unequivocal homage to imagery found on the Beastie Boys’ record Licensed to Ill. Eminem failed to consult the band prior to using influences from their work yet reportedly they didn’t mind.

Throughout the entirety of its design, the cover art features fictional fighter pilot ‘LT. Mathers III’ who intentionally crashes an F-86 Sabre fighter jet into an unknown object. There are subtle yet offensive details on the plane’s exterior too, like the swear ‘FU-2’ and TIKCU5, which is simply ‘suck it’ spelt backwards.

6. The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) 

marshall mathers lp album cover

Billboard 200 Peak Position: 1

Eminem’s third album entered the US charts at number one and remained there for eight consecutive weeks. The Marshall Mathers LP was a huge commercial success, selling 1.78 million copies in its first week and even introduced hit single ‘The Real Slim Shady’ to the world.

The original cover concept used for this album is considered a classic by Eminem’s most obsessive fan base. The visual depicts Eminem slumped on the ground, chained to a worn cabinet and with an open bottle of spirits on the floor next to him. For many enthusiasts it brilliantly represents the sinister tone of the LP’s darker content. 

Yet even by Eminem’s lewd standards, the imagery was judged far too risque for record label Interscope and they insisted on an alternative idea. As such, a simple picture of his childhood home and same building that would eventually appear on the cover of The Marshall Mathers LP 2 a full thirteen years later, was chosen as the final image instead.

5. The Eminem Show (2002)

The Eminem Show album cover

Billboard 200 Peak Position: 1

The Eminem Show made an instant impact on mainstream music, becoming the best-selling album of 2002, both in the United States and also worldwide with 1.3 million sales in its opening week.

Most of the LP was self-produced, Eminem taking on a significant role in production alongside his trusted collaborator Jeff Bass with additional input from Dr. Dre.

This effective main image has become iconic amongst hardcore Eminem fans and pop culturists alike. The predominantly dark blood red colouring is instantly unique and alluring to the eye. 

A circular spotlight beams intently on the waiting microphone stand, Eminem perched between an intimate gap in the curtain and seemingly apprehensive or perhaps unwilling to step centre stage. This single motif feels very symbolic of the pressures and negative attention thrust upon him as a twenty-first century celebrity.

A legendary Eminem album cover, and an iconic record.

4. Encore (2004)

Billboard 200 Peak Position: 1

Encore was arguably Eminem’s most comic offering and furthest removed from many of the hip-hop roots with which he’d begun. Although the LP went on to sell over 11 million copies worldwide, it was panned by many critics, with a particular focus on the poor quality of both his lyrics and musicality. 

The album’s title and main image fits perfectly with this stage of his career, Eminem taking what many thought of as a final bow, calling time on that particular juncture of his professional life. He was about to venture upon a five-year hiatus from the public eye and wouldn’t return again until the release of 2009’s Relapse.

The central image strongly suggests that Eminem is concealing a gun behind his back. This is backed up by exploring the records’ inlay of him sticking a pistol into his opened mouth, pointing the weapon towards an audience and posing for a more light-hearted ‘BANG flag out of a fake gun’ gag.

It’s not hard to agree that Encore provides one of the most iconic Eminem album covers of all time.

3. Recovery (2010)

Recovery album cover eminem

Billboard 200 Peak Position: 1

Recovery is one of Eminem’s more mature works that delves into reflection, suffering, and weakness. 

This album entered the US charts at number one with a staggering 741,000 copies sold in its first seven days and easily became the global best seller of 2010.

The LP’s cover is one of his most understated efforts to date yet full of deeper meaning and interesting footnotes.

Eminem is pictured journeying away from us along a vast road that stretches far into the distance. The photo is said to convey his departure from the ‘Slim Shady’ caricature he’d lent upon for so long as he slowly walks towards new beginnings.

2. The Slim Shady LP (1999)

Billboard 200 Peak Position: 2

The Slim Shady LP was the first Eminem album produced on a major record label. Its track list is largely dominated by songs written under the guise of his then newly created alter ego ‘Slim Shady.’

The album cover highlights some of Eminem’s most interesting uses of graphics with much about the design to unpack. The purple tones with unnerving dark clouds are psychotic yet strangely calming all at the same time.

The crayon style font is said to be a sweet tribute to his daughter Hallie, who is also seen depicted by the small child standing on the pier and in conversation with another anonymous figure. 

In stark contrast to these ‘kid-like’ tones, the disturbing pair of legs hanging from a car trunk is said to be inspired by his song ’97 Bonnie And Clyde’ which tells a tale of disposing his partner Kim’s body in a lake.

Without a doubt The Slim Shady LP is one of the most striking and memorable Eminem album covers.

1. Relapse (2009)

Billboard 200 Peak Position: 2

Following a five-year gap, Eminem returned with a number one album that sold an impressive 608,000 copies in its first week of sales. 

As a direct result of his so-called ‘lost years,’ the Relapse was heavily influenced by themes such as rehabilitation and loss of control – all whilst reverting back to his previous ‘Slim Shady’ persona for this particular project. 

Two major design features express the overall concept successfully. Firstly, there is a sticker on the cover which is reminiscent of a US medical prescription label, complete with the quirky detail of Dr. Dre as his prescribing Doctor.

The most striking and extremely creative feature of this cover is Eminem’s face, visible within an intricate and colourful collage of pills.

Relapse is a resounding fan favourite and an immensely engaging album cover design. It is arguably the best Eminem album cover of all.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. K

    Great list! My favorite cover is ‘The Eminem Show.’

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