After the release of his unsuccessful debut album Infinite in 1996, Eminem achieved mainstream popularity in 1999 with his second album The Slim Shady LP, which earned him his first Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. His next two releases, 2000's The Marshall Mathers LP, and 2002's The Eminem Show, were worldwide successes, with each being certified Diamond in U.S. sales, and both winning Grammy awards for Best Rap Album, making Eminem the first artist to win the award for three consecutive albums. This was followed by Encore in 2004, another critical and commercially successful album. Eminem then went on hiatus after touring in 2005. He released Relapse in 2009 and Recovery in 2010, the latter being named the best-selling album of 2010 worldwide, becoming the rapper's second album, after The Eminem Show, to become the internationally best-selling album of its year of release. Eminem won Grammy Awards for both Relapse and Recovery, giving him a total of 13 Grammy Awards in his career. His eighth studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, was released on November 2013, which earned him two further Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Album, increasing his total wins to 15. In 2017, he released his ninth studio album, Revival, followed by the surprise albums Kamikaze in 2018 and Music to be Murdered By.
Eminem has developed other ventures, including his own record label Shady Records in 1999 with his manager Paul Rosenberg. He has his own radio channel, Shade 45 on Sirius XM Radio. In November 2002, he starred in the hip hop biographical film 8 Mile, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Lose Yourself" in 2003; being the first rap artist to win the award. Eminem has also made cameo appearances in the films: The Wash (2001), Funny People (2009), The Interview (2014) and the television series Entourage.
Life and careerEdit
1972-1992: Early lifeEdit
Marshall Bruce Mathers III was born on 17 October 1972 in St. Joseph, Missouri. He is the only child of Marshall Bruce Mathers, Jr. (born 30 June 1951, and known as Bruce) and Deborah Rae "Debbie" Nelson (born 6 January 1955). Eminem is of English, German, Scottish, Swiss and Welsh descent. Debbie was fourteen when she met eighteen-year-old Bruce; at age 17, she nearly died during her 73-hour labor. Eminem's parents were in a band called Daddy Warbucks and played in Ramada Inns along the Dakota-Montana before their separation. Bruce left the family, moving to California and having two other children: Michael and Sarah (born c. 1982). Debbie later had another son, Nathan Kane "Nate" Samara (born 1986).
During his childhood, Mathers and his mother shuttled between Missouri and Michigan, rarely staying in one house for more than a year or two and primarily with family members. In Missouri, they lived in several places, including St. Joseph, Savannah, and Kansas City, before settling in Warren, Michigan when Eminem was eleven. As a teenager, Mathers wrote letters to his father; according to Debbie, all of them came back marked "return to sender". Friends and family remember a young Marshall as a happy child, but "a bit of a loner" who was often bullied. One bully, De'Angelo Bailey, severely injured Mathers in the head; Debbie filed a lawsuit against the school in 1982, which was dismissed the following year.
Mathers spent much of his youth in a lower-middle-class, primarily African-American neighborhood in Detroit. He and Debbie were one of three white households on their block, and Marshall was beaten by African-American youths several times. As a child, he was interested in storytelling, aspiring to be a comic book artist before discovering hip hop music. Marshall heard his first hip hop song, "Reckless" by Ice-T, at age nine on the Breakin' soundtrack, a gift from Debbie's half-brother Ronald Polkinghorn; whom he referred to as "Uncle Ronnie". When Polkinghorn committed suicide in 1991, Eminem stopped speaking for days and did not attend his funeral.
His home life was unstable; Mathers frequently fought with his mother, who was described by a social worker as having a "very suspicious, almost paranoid personality". When her son became famous, Debbie bristled at suggestions that she was a less-than-ideal mother, contending that she sheltered him and was responsible for his success. In 1987, Debbie allowed teenage runaway Kimberly Ann "Kim" Scott to stay at their home; several years later, Mathers began an on-and-off relationship with Kim. After spending three years repeating the ninth grade due to truancy and poor grades, he dropped out of Lincoln High School aged seventeen. Although he was interested in English, he never disliked literature as he preferred comic books, and disliked math and social studies. Mathers worked at several menial jobs to help his mother pay the bills, later maintaining that she often threw him out of the house anyway. When she left to play bingo, he would blast the stereo and write lyrics to hip hop beats.
At the age of fourteen, he adopted the stage name "M&M", which eventually evolved into Eminem. He skipped school and got the bus to neighboring Osborn High School with friend and fellow rapper Proof to participate in rap battles. On Saturdays, they attended open mic contests at the Hip-Hop Shop on West 7 Mile, considered the focal point for the Detroit hip hop scene. Struggling to succeed in a predominantly African-American industry, Eminem was appreciated by underground hip hop audiences. When he wrote verses, he wanted most of the words to rhyme; he wrote long words or phrases on paper and, underneath, worked on rhymes for each syllable. Although the lines often made little sense, the drill helped Eminem practice sounds and rhymes.
1993-1999: Early career, Infinite, and The Slim Shady LPEdit
As Eminem's reputation grew, he was recruited by several hip hop groups; the first of these was a group called New Jacks. After they disbanded, he joined Soul Intent, who released a single in 1995 featuring Proof. Eminem also made his first music video appearance in 1993 in a song called, "Do-Da-Dippity", by Champtown. Eminem and Proof formed D12, a six-member ensemble resembling a Wu-Tang-style collective more than a regularly performing group. Eminem had his first run-in with the law at the age of twenty, when he was arrested for involvement in a drive-by shooting with a paintball gun. The case was dismissed when the victim did not appear in court.
Eminem was signed to Jeff and Mark Bass' F.B.T. Productions, recording his debut album Infinite for their independent Web Entertainment label. One lyrical subject of Infinite was his struggle to raise his newborn daughter, Hailie Jade Scott-Mathers (born. 25 December 1995), on the little money he had. During this period, Eminem's rhyming style, primarily inspired by Nas and AZ, lacked the comically violent slant for which he would later be known for. Infinite was largely ignored by Detroit disc jockeys, and the mediocre feedback he did receive led him to craft angrier and moodier tracks. At this time, Eminem and Kim Scott lived in a crime-ridden neighborhood, and their house was broken into and robbed several times. He cooked and washed dishes for minimum wage at Gilbert's Lodge, a family-style restaurant at St. Clair Shores. Described by his former boss as a model employee, he worked sixty hours a week for six months after Hailie's birth. After the release of Infinite, his personal problems and substance abuse culminated in an unsuccessful suicide attempt. By March 1997, he was fired from Gilbert's Lodge for the last time and lived in his mother's mobile home with Kim and Hailie.
Eminem attracted more attention when he developed Slim Shady, a sadistic, violent alter ego that allowed him to express his anger. In the spring of 1997, he recorded the Slim Shady EP, which was released that winter by Web Entertainment. The EP, with frequent references to drug use, sexual acts, mental instability, and violence, also explored the more-serious themes of dealing with poverty and marital and family difficulties and revealed his direct, self-deprecating response to criticism. Hip hop magazine The Source featured Eminem in its Unsigned Hype column on March 1998.
After he was evicted from his home, Eminem went to Los Angeles to compete in the 1997 Rap Olympics, an annual, nationwide battle rap competition. He finished in second place, and Interscope Records staff in attendance sent a copy of the Slim Shady EP to company CEO Jimmy Iovine. Iovine played the tape for record producer Dr. Dre, founder of Aftermath Entertainment. Dr. Dre recalled, "In my entire career in the music industry, I have never found anything from a demo tape or a CD. When Jimmy played this, I said 'Find him. Now.'" Eminem, who had idolized Dr. Dre since listening to N.W.A as a teenager was nervous about working with him on an album: "I didn't want to be starstruck or kiss his ass too much ... I'm just a little white boy from Detroit. I had never seen stars, let alone Dr. Dre." He became more comfortable working with Dre after a series of productive recording sessions.
Eminem released The Slim Shady LP in February 1999. Although it was one of the year's most popular albums, he was accused of imitating the style and subject matter of underground rapper Cage. Its popularity was accompanied by controversy over the lyrics; in "'97 Bonnie and Clyde", Eminem describes a trip with his infant daughter when he disposes of his murdered wife's body. Although "Guilty Conscience" encourages a man to murder his wife and her lover, the song marked the beginning of a friendship and musical bond between Dr. Dre and Eminem. The label-mates later collaborated on a number of hit songs ("Forgot About Dre" and "What's the Difference" from Dr. Dre's second album 2001, "Bitch Please II" from The Marshall Mathers LP, "Say What You Say" from The Eminem Show, "Encore/Curtains Down" from Encore, and "Old Time's Sake" and "Crack a Bottle" from Relapse), and Dr. Dre made at least one guest appearance on each of Eminem's Aftermath albums. The Slim Shady LP has been certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA.
2000-2002: The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem ShowEdit
Eminem's third studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP, was released on May 2000. It sold 1,760,000 copies in its first week, breaking records in the United States held by Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle for fastest-selling hip hop album and Britney Spears' ...Baby One More Time for the fastest-selling solo album. The first single from the album, "The Real Slim Shady", was a success despite controversies about Eminem's insults and questionable claims about celebrities (such as that Christina Aguilera had performed oral sex on Fred Durst and Carson Daly). In his second single, "The Way I Am", he reveals the pressure from his record company to beat "My Name Is". In the third single, "Stan", Eminem assumes the persona of a deranged fan who kills himself and his pregnant girlfriend in a mirror of the song "'97 Bonnie & Clyde" from The Slim Shady LP. The Marshall Mathers LP has been certified 11x Platinum (Diamond) by the RIAA.
Eminem performed alongside Elton John at the 43rd Grammy Awards ceremony in 2001, although the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation condemned John's decision to perform with him. That same year, Eminem appeared in the Up in Smoke, Family Values and Anger Management tours.
The Eminem Show was released on May 2002. It was another success for Eminem, reaching #1 on the charts and selling over 1,300,000 copies in its first week. The album examines the effects of the rapper's rise to fame, his relationship with his wife and daughter, and his status in the hip hop community. The Eminem Show was the best-selling album of 2002 in the United States and was eventually certified 10x Platinum (Diamond) by the RIAA.
- 1996: Infinite
- 1999: The Slim Shady LP
- 2000: The Marshall Mathers LP
- 2002: The Eminem Show
- 2004: Encore
- 2009: Relapse
- 2010: Recovery
- 2013: The Marshall Mathers LP 2
- 2017: Revival
- 2018: Kamikaze
- 2020: Music to Be Murdered By
- 1997: Slim Shady EP