Eminem (born, Marshall Bruce Mathers III on October 17, 1972 in Saint Joseph,
Missouri, USA), one of today's most controversial and popular rappers. He
currently lives in Clinton Charter Township, Michigan in the outskirts of
Brought to fame by rapper/producer Dr. Dre, Eminem is perhaps best
known for being one of the most successful rappers in the industry.
He is noted for his ability to change his own verbal pace ("flow")
and style multiple times within one song without losing the beat. He
is also infamous for the controversy surrounding many of his lyrics.
Critics have accused him of being homophobic, misogynistic and excessively
violent, though his actions (such as support for the Humanitarian response
to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and Boys and Girls Club, and performing
with artist Elton John) may suggest otherwise. In the song "Mosh", Eminem speaks out against the Iraq conflict, violence and President
of the United States George W. Bush. Eminem also speaks out against
violence amongst rappers with his remake of Toy Soldiers, and he supports
the Leary Fire Fighters Foundation. Although Eminem does not consider
himself a militant or political artist he did have his own Hip Hop
Political Convention in response to the national political conventions
held in 2004. Eminem's protégé, 50 Cent, reached superstardom
Early life and career.
Mathers was born in St. Joseph, MO (near Kansas City), a single child
to a father who left his mom and him, and spent most of his childhood
moving back and forth between Kansas City and Detroit where he became
friends with Runyan Avenue Soldiers.
Interested in rap from a young age, Mathers began performing as early
as thirteen, later gaining some popularity with a group, Soul Intent.
His wife Kim gave birth to his daughter, Hailie Jade, on 25 December
1995. In 1996, he released his first independent album, named Infinite
(of which he sold about 500 copies out of the back of his car), following
it up with The Slim Shady EP (produced by the Bass Brothers) in 1997.
He became famous in the hip-hop underground because of his distinctive,
cartoonish style and the fact that he is white (a rarity in all rap,
especially mainstream gangsta rap). Some people called him rap's "great
white hope". With his storytelling way of expressing rap, he became
known in the underground as "The White Shadow". Marital problems,
however, almost derailed his career, when, after arguing with his wife,
he attempted to kill himself by overdosing with pills. The suicide
attempt failed, but encouraged him to rededicate himself to "The
Slim Shady EP" demo.
It is said that rap artist and producer Dr. Dre found Eminem's demo
on the garage floor of Jimmy Iovine, the Interscope label chief. Though
this did not directly lead to a recording contract, Dr. Dre agreed
to sign him when Eminem won second place vs. Otherwize at the 1997
Rap Olympics MC battle. Other sources state that an executive at the
offices of Interscope handed the demo to Iovine who passed it to Dre,
which resulted in a contract.
Entering the mainstream.
Once he joined Interscope, Eminem released The Slim Shady LP, which
went on to be one of the most popular records of 1999, going triple
platinum by the end of the year. With the album's enormous popularity
came controversy surrounding many of the album's lyrics. In "97
Bonnie and Clyde", Eminem describes a trip with his infant daughter,
disposing of the body of his wife. Another song, "Guilty Conscience" ends
with Eminem and Dr. Dre encouraging a man to murder his wife and her
The Marshall Mathers LP was released
in May 2000, quickly selling 2 million copies. The first single released
from the album, The Real Slim Shady, was a smash - thanks in part
to the catchy rhythm and chorus line, "Won't the real Slim Shady
please stand up, please stand up, please stand up?" (adapted
from the catch phrase of the TV quiz show To Tell the Truth). It
also created some buzz by trash-talking celebrities and spilling
dubious gossip about them. In the song, Eminem claims, among other
things, that Christina Aguilera gave "head" (oral sex)
to Fred Durst (of Limp Bizkit) and Carson Daly (of MTV's Total Request
Live). In his second single, "The Way I Am", he attempts
to downplay the alleged controversial link between music such as
that of Marilyn Manson and shootings such as at Columbine High School.
In the third single, "Stan" (which samples Dido's "Thank
You"), Eminem attempts to deal with his new-found fame, telling
the story of a fan so obsessed with Eminem that the fan winds up
killing himself and his pregnant girlfriend, mirroring one of the
songs on The Slim Shady LP.
With the enormous popularity of Eminem's second album, the controversy
surrounding Eminem grew even larger, especially when The Marshall
Mathers LP was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year. Though
Mathers had always claimed that his lyrics were not meant to be taken
seriously, and that he had nothing against homosexuals or women,
the gay rights group GLAAD organized a boycott of the Grammys against
Eminem. Mathers responded to this by singing "Stan" on-stage
with bisexual singer Elton John, ending the performance by hugging
John to show that he didn't have anything against homosexuals. Though
it shocked a lot of people, this gesture failed to appease all of
Since Eminem's rapid ascent to fame, tell-all biographies of varying
quality have been published, including Shady Bizzness by his former
bodyguard Byron Williams. Eminem himself has written a book called
Angry Blonde, released in 2000, where he reveals the emotions and intent
behind the lyrics in the Marshall Mathers LP, and describes his passion
and approach to rapping.
As one of six members of the rap group D12, Eminem appeared on the
album Devil's Night, released in 2001. The album was certified multi-platinum.
The album contained the single Purple Pills, renamed Purple Hills for
radio play. Another song, Blow My Buzz, was on the soundtrack for the
film The Wash (2001), in which Eminem had a cameo.
Eminem's third major album, The Eminem Show was released in summer
2002. It featured the single "Without Me", an apparent sequel
to "The Real Slim Shady" in which he makes derogatory comments
about boy bands, *NSYNC's Chris Kirkpatrick, Limp Bizkit, Moby, and
Lynne Cheney, among others.
On November 19, 2003 new controversy surrounded Eminem when a cassette
tape was played during a press conference held by The Source magazine.
The 1988 cassette featured a younger Mathers performing a freestyle
rap in which he made disparaging remarks about black women, calling
them "stupid" in comparison to white women. Other racial
slurs and remarks were stated to be on the tape. Mathers reportedly
made the recording after breaking up with his black girlfriend. The
ordeal would later end up with both Eminem and The Source arguing their
views of the matter in court. Benzino is currently feuding with Eminem
(see Benzino and The Source on the on-going feud with Eminem).
On December 8, 2003, the United States Secret Service admitted it
was "looking into" allegations that Mathers had threatened
the President of the United States after the unreleased song "We
as Americans" (since included on Encore) leaked onto the Internet.
The lyrics in question: Fuck money/ I don't rap for dead presidents/
I'd rather see the president dead/ It's never been said, but I set
Then, in 2004, Eminem made the video My Band with D12. The controversial
song was the band's sarcastic response to the media's frequent portrayal
of D-12 as Eminem's band, giving little or no credit to its other members.
The video contained various parodies, including that of the Janet Jackson
'incident', and of 50 Cent's "In Da Club" video.
On October 12, 2004, a week after the release of Just Lose It, Eminem's
first video and single off Encore, Michael Jackson called into the
Los Angeles-based Steve Harvey radio show to report his displeasure
with the video, which parodies Jackson's child-molestation accusations,
his rhinoplasty, and an incident in which Jackson's hair caught on
fire while he was filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984. The lyrics to
Just Lose It also refer to Jackson's troubles. In the video, Eminem
also parodied Pee Wee Herman, MC Hammer, and a Blonde-Ambition-touring
Madonna. Harvey himself declared, "Eminem has lost his ghetto
pass. We want the pass back".
Black Entertainment Television was the first channel to stop airing the
video. MTV, however, announced it would continue airing the video and
Just Lose It became the number-one requested video on Total Request Live
for the week ending October 22. The Source magazine, through its CEO
Raymond "Benzino" Scott, wanted not only the video pulled,
but the song off the album, and a public apology to Jackson from Eminem.
Others dismissed Just Lose It as a tame "Weird Al" Yankovic-style
knockoff. Regarding Jackson's protest, Yankovic, who parodied the
Eminem song Lose Yourself on a track entitled Couch Potato on his 2003
album Poodle Hat, himself told the Chicago Sun-Times, "Last year,
Eminem forced me to halt production on the video for my 'Lose Yourself'
parody because he somehow thought that it would be harmful to his image
or career. So the irony of this situation with Michael is not lost
On October 26, 2004 a week before the U.S. presidential election,
2004, Eminem released the video for his song titled "Mosh" on
the Internet. The song features a very strong anti-Bush message, with
lyrics such as "fuck Bush" and "this weapon of mass
destruction that we call our president". The video features Eminem
gathering up an army of people presented as victims of the Bush administration
and leading them to the White House. However, once the army breaks
in, it is revealed that they are there to simply register to vote,
and the video ends with the words "VOTE Tuesday November 2" on
the screen. After Bush won the election, the video's ending was changed
to Eminem and the rioters invading while Bush was giving a speech.
On October 31, Eminem performed the song on Saturday Night Live, but
some thought that he appeared to be lip-synching it only a week after
Ashlee Simpson was caught lip-synching her performance on the program.
None of the publicity helped the album however, which saw its sales
stall at 4 million copies. Good for other artists, but off dramatically
from his past two hits.
In summer 2005, Mathers embarked on his first U.S. concert run in
three years, the Anger Management 3 Tour, featuring Lil' Jon, 50 Cent
and G-Unit, D-12, Obie Trice, The Alchemist, and others. In August
2005, Eminem canceled the European leg of the tour and subsequently
announced that he had entered drug rehabilitation for treatment for
a "dependency on sleep medication"..
At the same time as he was entering rehab, his aunt and uncle, Jack
and Betty Schmitt, sued Mathers, charging that he had reneged on a
promise to build a $350,000 house for them and supply them with money
for the house's upkeep. The couple claimed that Mathers had kept the
house in his name, and then issued them eviction orders.
Other works and ventures.
Eminem made his Hollywood acting debut with the semi-autobiographical
8 Mile, released in November 2002. He recorded several new songs for
the soundtrack, including "Lose Yourself" which won Eminem
an Academy Award for Best Song; it was not performed at the ceremony,
reportedly because ABC wanted him to perform an edited version. He has
also lent his voice to the Crank Yankers show and a web cartoon called "The
Slim Shady Show", which has since been pulled offline and is instead
sold on DVD.
Eminem has also been linked to "Songs of Hope" by U2 and
supported the Boys and Girls Club of America and the Leary Fire Fighters
Foundation with various proceeds donated to these causes. In 2004,
he held a political convention of his own in New York City, in response
to the National Republican Convention. In the song Mosh, Eminem expresses
his support for American troops, but speaks against the Iraq war and
the Bush administration. Eminem was also made an honorary priest by
the Raelians Religious Movement, a cult whose beliefs are centered
around aliens. In addition, he has raised AIDS and other STD awareness
in a number of songs describing infected people having promiscious
sex with numerous partners.