These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Those for and against him alike can't quite figure out whether he "really means it" or not. He's generally more intelligent and sensitive than his loudest detractors would admit, but still angrier and sicker than his younger fans' parents would like.
Some of his more outlandish and outrageous lyrics and songs reach the point of parody, whether they are or not is debatable.
The Marshall Mathers LP got awards left and right and is widely regarded as one of the best rap albums ever. Yet when it came time to award the Grammy for Album of the Year, it had two acclaimed rock albums to combat: Steely Dan's Two Against Nature and Radiohead's Kid A. The Academy chose the Steely Dan album, apparently because it was a safer choice than a rap album or an experimental rock album.
Inversely, at least early in his mainstream career, he seemed to win awards in rap categories by default.
In the midst of "Lose Yourself", he includes the lyric "Mom's Spaghetti" in the midst of describing someone's nervous breakdown. It's never explained what the Hell he's talking about (though it could be connected to the previous line, "There's vomit on his sweater already" as just a way of saying that the rapper in question threw up his mother's spaghetti that he ate earlier). The randomness of the line has caused it to go memetic.
Bile Fascination: This is how he got a lot of his early audience, since he started his career in that transition period where people were getting tired of Gangsta Rap but hadn't fully embraced Crunk/Club Rap yet. He tended to alternate between Black Comedy and songs about killing women, and stuff you could dance to or was meant to be remixed.
Crosses the Line Twice: Many of his jokes are of this sort. In fact, he outright admitted he was trying for this with the Christopher Reeve impersonation on "Medicine Ball."
Despite his rude behavior, his extreme harshness towards others, and his homophobic and sexist lyrics (at least, how a lot of people interpreted them to be), he was still one of the top artists of the '00s and loved by teenage girls. He isn't at all villainous, however he is a controversial figure to most who just can't understand the overlooking.
He lampshades this in the lyrics for "The Real Slim Shady":
"Feminist women love Eminem/
Chicka-chicka Slim Shady, I'm sick of him/Look at him
Walking around, grabbin' his you-know-what/Flippin' the you-know-who
Michael Jackson did not take well towards Eminem making fun of him in his Just Lose It music video. The backlash even resulted in B.E.T. pulling the video from airwaves.
Ass Like That, in which Em pretends to be Triumph The Insult Comic Dog and imagines him committing several sexual offenses, most of them involving minors.
Ear Worm: Put on an Eminem song - any Eminem song. Chances are it stays stuck "in your head for days and days".
Ensemble Darkhorse: There are many people who like Eminem, but can't stand rap in general, making him an Ensemble Darkhorse for the entire rap genre.
He commonly overshadows other artists such as Rihanna, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and even Jay-Z (Whether Em was actually better on Renegade than Hov can be debated, but the reviews said Em's verse was superior) when collaborating with them. Hell, he outshone Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Drake all on one song, Forever, Shady was indeed back.
"Like Toy Soldiers," "Mockingbird," "Yellow Brick Road", and "Mosh" are the only tracks on Encore that most people like to remember.
Among rap fans, he is the Ensemble Darkhorse of mainstream hip hop.
Face of the Band: He's the only recognizable member of D12 (though new fans might come to remember Bizarre, who stands out for being The Fat One and having the most out there lyrics). Lampshaded with the D12 song "My Band", in which the other D12 members bitch about the situation (and Em brags about it).
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Encore's "One Shot 2 Shot" has Em and D12 rapping about a shooting at a D12 concert. Proof's death two years later made this song even scarier than it already was.
Harsher in Hindsight: The video for Like Toy Soldiers (released in early 2005 as a single), which depicts Proof dying of gunshot wounds. Proof was shot to death about a year later.
As mentioned above in "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, "One Shot 2 Shot" became this when Proof of D12 was killed in a shooting a nightclub in 2006.
Not to mention Kim, an already disturbing song about Eminem murdering his then wife Kim, is made a bit more disturbing when in Love The Way You Lie he reveals they were both mutually abusive towards each other.
BBC Radio 1: "This is not an autobiographical lyric [...] It's one of Eminem's flights of fancy, albeit one into a very real situation. Clearly he understands the psychology well, and can express the feelings with enormous clarity. Rihanna's role in all of this is interesting though."
Most of his songs about partying and drugs, especially "Drug Ballad", become this in light of his overdose.
In "Fast Lane", Royce Da 5'9" says "You let me take a shovel, dig up the corpse of Jack Kevorkian". Jack died exactly one month later.
Hilarious in Hindsight: During the third verse in "Without Me," Eminem takes a shot at Moby, claiming "Nobody listens to Techno!" Several years later, Ke$ha, Lady Gaga and other techno-based artists take over the charts. Just as hilariously, the year "Without Me" came out (2002), Kylie Minogue and her electro-poppy "Cant Get You Out of My Head" take over the charts world wide, as — of course — does Moby with "We Are All Made of Stars."
Perhaps doubles as Harsher in Hindsight, but in his earlier years on a major label, he would regularly trash the notion of himself as a positive role model, most prominently on "Role Model" where he sarcastically asks "Don't you wanna grow up to be just like me?" He would later go on to adopt three children, kick a drug habit that had its grip on him for longer than he'd been signed, and found a charity for disadvantaged youth.
Now I'm gonna make you dance It's your chance Yeah, boy; shake that ass Oops, I mean girl Girl, girl, girl...
Not to mention "Lighters":
And pardon me if I'm a cocky prick but you cocks are slick Who you dicks try to kid, flipped dick, you did the opposite You stayed the same, cause cock backwards is still cock you pricks I love it when I tell em shove it
Hype Aversion: More cynical listeners believe Eminem's success is 30% talent and 70% because he's white, and that critics treat him as if he single-handedly invented hip-hop.
In some interviews (and stated in "White America") he kinda agrees with that cynical opinion.
Hype Backlash: "Recovery" was hailed by fans and media as a return to form when it came out, but now it's considered among Em's weakest albums; "still better than "Recovery"" was heard from many "MMLP 2" reviewers in 2013.
Jumping the Shark: For those who believe his drug addiction killed his rap talent permanently.
Magnum Opus: Eminem has two: Stan and Lose Yourself. They're his most critically acclaimed songs, with the former regularly appearing on "Greatest ____ Songs Lists" and the latter won him an Academy Award.
One-Scene Wonder: His guest appearances have a habit of outshining the host artist, like in Drake's song "Forever".
Or on "Drop the World" from the Lil Wayne rock album. Most people weren't fans of the album, except for the song Em was on.
Judging by the sales on-line, his appearance in "That's All She Wrote" on T.I.'s latest album is being viewed the same way.
His duet with Jay-Z, "Renegade", is the most literal example of this trope: Em's the only guest on the whole album. This was even lampshaded by Nas during his feud with Jay, saying "Eminem murdered you on your own shit!"
The ironic thing is that his verses were prerecorded before Jay-Z got a hold of the track. It was originally supposed to be a Royce da 5'9" songnote the "Jigga-Ji-Jigga" near the end of Em's first verse was recorded over the words "Royce, the king of Detroit" when Jay picked it up.
True Art Is Angsty: Cracked notes here that "As [Eminem] gets his life together his songs sound more and more like remixes and covers of the old ones. He'll never do 'Bonnie & Clyde' again."
Averted in the case of his more humorous songs, if one looks mainly at the songs themselves and not at Em's state of mind when he composed them.
Unintentional Period Piece: "Murder, Murder" off The Slim Shady EP. The second stanza sees him looting a house for, among other things, a Nintendo 64 (to sell it at triple the price once shops run out) and some Beanie Babies.
Weird Al Effect: "Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?" is actually derived from the 1960s/70s game show To Tell the Truth's catchphrase "Will the real [person's name] please stand up?", used to reveal the true mystery guest.
The Marshall Mathers LP 2 was this to those who were unsatisfied with Recovery's more somber tone and sometimes heavy-handed lyrics, instead opting to go back to the more slightly more wicked and slick tone of The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP, while still retaining the lightning-fast flow he showcased in Hell: The Sequel and parts of Recovery.