Marshall Bruce Mathers III (born October 17, 1972), known by his primary stage name Eminem, or by his alter ego Slim Shady, is an American rapper, record producer and actor. Eminem quickly gained popularity in 1999 with his major-label debut album The Slim Shady LP, which won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. The following album, The Marshall Mathers LP, became the fastest-selling hip hop album in history. It brought Eminem increased popularity, including his own record label, Shady Records, and brought his group project D12 to mainstream recognition.
The Marshall Mathers LP and his third album, The Eminem Show, also won Grammy Awards, and in 2002, he won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for a song in the film 8 Mile, in which he also played the lead. Eminem then went on hiatus after touring in 2005. He released his first album since 2004’s Encore, titled Relapse, on May 15, 2009. Eminem has sold more than 75 million albums worldwide, and in the United States is the best selling music artist of the 2000s. Eminem is also ranked in the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine. He was also named the Best Rapper Ever By Vibe Magazine.
1972–1997: Early life, and Infinite
See also: Infinite (Eminem album)
Marshall Bruce Mathers III was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, the son of Deborah Mathers-Briggs (née Nelson) and Marshall Bruce Mathers, Jr. Shortly after his birth, his father abandoned his family. Until he was twelve, Mathers and his mother moved between various cities and towns in Missouri (including St. Joseph, Savannah, Missouri and Kansas City) before moving to Warren, Michigan, a Detroit suburb. After procuring a copy of the Beastie Boys album Licensed to Ill as a teenager, Mathers became interested in hip hop, performing amateur raps at age fourteen under the pseudonym “M&M” and joining the group called “Bassmint Productions” and released their first EP called “Steppin’ Onto The Scene”. They later changed their name to “Soul Intent” and around 1995 they released their first single called “Fuckin’ Backstabber” under the record label Mashin’ Duck Records. Although he was enrolled at Lincoln High School in Warren, he frequently participated in freestyle battles at Osborn High School across town, gaining the approval of underground hip hop audiences. After repeating the ninth grade three times due to truancy, he dropped out of high school at age 17.
Mathers was initially signed to FBT Productions in 1992, run by brothers Jeff and Mark Bass. Mathers also held a minimum-wage job of cooking and dishwashing at the restaurant Gilbert’s Lodge at St. Clair Shores for some time. In 1996, his debut album Infinite, which was recorded at the Bassmint, a recording studio owned by the Bass Brothers, was released under their independent label Web Entertainment. Eminem recalled “Obviously, I was young and influenced by other artists, and I got a lot of feedback saying that I sounded like Nas and AZ. ‘Infinite’ was me trying to figure out how I wanted my rap style to be, how I wanted to sound on the mic and present myself. It was a growing stage. I felt like ‘Infinite’ was like a demo that just got pressed up.” Subjects covered in Infinite included his struggles with raising his newborn daughter Hailie Jade Scott while on limited funds and his strong desire to get rich. Early in his career, Eminem collaborated with fellow Detroit MC Royce da 5’9″ under the stage name Bad Meets Evil. After the release of Infinite, Eminem’s personal struggles and abuse of drugs and alcohol culminated in his unsuccessful suicide attempt.
With the release of The Slim Shady EP, Mathers was accused of imitating the style and subject matter of underground rapper Cage. While promoting the EP, Mathers approached Insane Clown Posse member Joseph Bruce and handed him a flyer which implied that the group would make an appearance at the EP’s release party. Bruce refused to appear because Mathers had not previously approached him for permission to use the group’s name in this way. Taking Bruce’s response as a personal offense, Mathers subsequently attacked the group in radio interviews.
Jimmy Iovine, CEO of Interscope Records, requested a demo tape of Eminem’s after Eminem won second place at the 1997 Rap Olympics. Iovine played the tape for record producer Dr. Dre, founder of Aftermath Entertainment. The two began recording tracks for Eminem’s upcoming major-label debut The Slim Shady LP, and Eminem made a guest performance on the album Devil Without a Cause by Kid Rock. Hip-hop magazine The Source featured Eminem in its “Unsigned Hype” column in March 1998.
1998–1999: The Slim Shady LP
Main article: The Slim Shady LP
According to Billboard Magazine, at this point in his life Eminem had “realized his musical ambitions were the only way to escape his unhappy life”. After being signed to Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records in 1998, Eminem released in 1999 his first major studio album, The Slim Shady LP, heavily based on the production by Dr. Dre. The album was, according to Billboard, “light years ahead of the material he had been writing beforehand”. It went on to be one of the most popular albums of 1999, going triple platinum by the end of the year. With the album’s popularity came controversy surrounding many of the album’s lyrics. In “’97 Bonnie and Clyde”, he describes a trip with his infant daughter, disposing of the body of his wife. Another song, “Guilty Conscience”, ends with his encouraging a man to murder his wife and her lover. “Guilty Conscience” marked the beginning of the powerful friendship and musical bond that Dr. Dre and Eminem would share. The two label-mates would later collaborate on a line of hit songs, including “Forgot About Dre” and “What’s the Difference” from Dr. Dre’s 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. Dr. Dre would go on to make at least one guest appearance on all of Eminem’s studio albums under the label Aftermath.
2000–2001: The Marshall Mathers LP
Main article: The Marshall Mathers LP
The Marshall Mathers LP was released in May 2000. It went on to sell 1.76 million copies in its first week, breaking the records set by Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle as the fastest-selling hip hop album and Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time as the fastest-selling solo album in United States history. The first single released from the album, “The Real Slim Shady”, was a success and created some controversy by insulting celebrities and making dubious claims about them; he states, among other things, that Christina Aguilera performed oral sex on Fred Durst and Carson Daly. In his second single, “The Way I Am”, he reveals to his fans the pressures from his record company to top “My Name Is” and sell more records. Although Eminem had parodied shock rocker Marilyn Manson in the video “My Name Is”, the artists are reportedly on good terms. They performed a remix of the song “The Way I Am” together in concert. In the third single, “Stan” (which samples Dido’s “Thank You”), Eminem attempts to deal with his new-found fame, taking on the persona of a deranged fan who kills himself and his pregnant girlfriend, mirroring “’97 Bonnie & Clyde” on The Slim Shady LP. Q magazine named “Stan” the third-greatest rap song of all time, and the song came tenth in a similar survey conducted by Top40-Charts.com. The song has since become highly acclaimed and was ranked 290th in Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. In July 2000, Eminem became the first white person to be featured on the cover of The Source magazine.
Music tours that he participated in for 2001 included the Up In Smoke Tour with rappers Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, and Ice Cube and Family Values Tour with the band Limp Bizkit.
2002–2003: The Eminem Show
Main article: The Eminem Show
Eminem’s third major album, The Eminem Show, was released in summer 2002 and proved to be another hit for the rapper reaching number one on the charts and selling well over 1 million copies in its first week of release. It featured the single “Without Me”, an apparent sequel to “The Real Slim Shady”, in which he makes derogatory comments about boy bands, Limp Bizkit, Moby, and Lynne Cheney, among others. The album reflected on the impact of his rise to fame, his relationship with his wife and daughter, and his status in the hip-hop community. He also addresses the charges he faced over assaulting a bouncer he saw kissing his wife in 2000. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic felt that while there was clear anger present on several tracks, this album was considerably less inflammatory than The Marshall Mathers LP. However, L. Brent Bozell III, who previously criticized The Marshall Mathers LP for perceived misogynistic lyrics in the album, noted The Eminem Show for its extensive use of obscene language, giving Eminem the nickname “Eminef” for the bowdlerization of motherfucker, an obscenity prevalent in the album.
Main article: Encore (Eminem album)
On December 8, 2003, the United States Secret Service admitted it was “looking into” allegations that Eminem had threatened the President of the United States. 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 precedents …”. The song in question, “We As Americans”, wound up on a bonus CD accompanying the album.
The year 2004 saw the release of Eminem’s fourth major album, Encore. The album was another chart-topper, as it was driven by the single “Just Lose It”, notable for being disrespectful towards Michael Jackson. On October 12, 2004, a week after the release of “Just Lose It”, Eminem’s first 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 trial, plastic surgery, and an incident in which Jackson’s hair caught on fire while filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984. The lyrics to “Just Lose It” refer to Jackson’s legal troubles, however he does state in his song “… and that’s not a stab at Michael/That’s just a metaphor/I’m just psycho….” Many of Jackson’s supporters and friends spoke out about the video, including Stevie Wonder, who called the video “kicking a man while he’s down” and “bullshit”, and Steve Harvey who declared, “Eminem has lost his ghetto pass. We want the pass back.” In the video, Eminem parodied Pee Wee Herman, MC Hammer, and a Blonde-Ambition-touring Madonna.
Regarding Jackson’s protest, “Weird Al” Yankovic, who parodied the Eminem song “Lose Yourself” on a track titled “Couch Potato” on his 2003 album Poodle Hat, 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 me.” Black Entertainment Television was the first channel to stop airing the video. MTV, however, announced it would continue airing the video. The Source, through its CEO Raymond “Benzino” Scott, wanted not only the video to be pulled, but the song off the album, and a public apology to Jackson from Eminem. In 2007 Jackson and Sony bought Famous Music LLC from Viacom. This deal gave him the rights to songs by Eminem, Shakira and Beck, among others. Despite the comedic theme of the lead single, Encore had its fair share of serious subject matter, including the anti-war track “Mosh”. On October 25, 2004, a week before the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, Eminem released the video for “Mosh” on the Internet. The song featured 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, including rapper Lloyd Banks, 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 protesters invading while Bush was giving a speech.
2005–2008: Musical hiatus
Eminem performing live on the Anger Management Tour in August 2005
In 2005, some industry insiders speculated that Eminem was considering ending his rapping career after six years and several multi-platinum albums. Speculation began in early 2005 about a double-disc album to be released late that year, rumored to be titled The Funeral. The album manifested itself as a greatest hits album under the name Curtain Call: The Hits, and was released on December 6, 2005 under Aftermath Entertainment. In July 2005, the Detroit Free Press broke news of a potential final bow for Eminem as a solo performer, quoting members of his inside circle who said that he will begin to fully embrace the role of producer and label executive. On the same day of the release of the compilation album, Eminem denied that he was retiring on Detroit-based WKQI’s “Mojo in the Morning” radio show, but implied that he would at least be taking a break as an artist, saying “I’m at a point in my life right now where I feel like I don’t know where my career is going … This is the reason that we called it ‘Curtain Call’, because this could be the final thing. We don’t know.”
In 2005, Eminem was a subject of Bernard Goldberg’s book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America; he ranked #58. Goldberg cited a 2001 column by Bob Herbert of The New York Times claiming, “In Eminem’s world, all women are whores and he is eager to rape and murder them.” The Eminem song “No One’s Iller” from The Slim Shady EP was used by Goldberg as an example of misogyny in his music.
In summer 2005, Eminem embarked on his first U.S. concert run in three years, the Anger Management 3 Tour, featuring 50 Cent, G-Unit, Lil’ Jon, D12, 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”.
2008–2009: Relapse and Relapse 2
Main articles: Relapse and Relapse 2
In September 2007, Eminem called into New York radio station Hot 97 during a 50 Cent interview and said he was “in limbo” and “debating” about when and if he would release another album. He said, “I’m always working — I’m always in the studio. It feels good right now, the energy of the label. For a while, I didn’t want to go back to the studio … I went through some personal things. I’m coming out of those personal things it feels good.”
Eminem made an appearance on his Sirius channel Shade 45 in September 2008 in which he said, “Right now I’m kinda just concentrating on my own stuff, for right now and just banging out tracks and producing a lot of stuff. You know, the more I keep producing the better it seems like I get ’cause I just start knowing stuff.” It was around this time that Interscope finally confirmed the existence of a new Eminem album, with Spring 2009 later being stated as the period span in which the album is due. In December 2008, he gave more details on the album, which he recently reported was being titled Relapse. He said, “Me and Dre are back in the lab like the old days, man. Dre will end up producing the majority of the tracks on ‘Relapse’. We are up to our old mischievous ways … let’s just leave it at that.”
On March 5, 2009, Eminem reported in a press release that he would be releasing two new albums this year. Relapse, the first album, was released on May 19, while “We Made You”, the first official single and its music video, were released on April 7.. On October 3, 2009, Eminem appeared once again on Shade 45 with DJ Whoo Kid and announced that Denaun Porter and Just Blaze were very busy working on Relapse 2 .
Shady Records and D12
Main articles: Shady Records and D12
As Eminem succeeded in multi-platinum record sales, Interscope granted him his own record label. He and his manager Paul Rosenberg created Shady Records in late 2000. He followed this by signing his own Detroit collective D12 and rapper Obie Trice to the label. In 2002, Eminem signed 50 Cent through a joint venture between Shady and Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label. In 2003, Eminem and Dr. Dre signed Atlanta rapper Stat Quo to the Shady/Aftermath roster. DJ Green Lantern, the former DJ for Eminem, was signed to Shady Records until a dispute related to the 50 Cent and Jadakiss feud forced him to depart from the label; he is no longer associated with Eminem. The Alchemist is now officially Eminem’s tour DJ. In 2005, Eminem signed another Atlanta rapper, Bobby Creekwater, to his label along with West Coast rapper Cashis.
On December 5, 2006, Shady Records released compilation album, Eminem Presents: The Re-Up. It started out as a mixtape but Eminem found that the material was better than expected and released it as a full album. It was meant to help launch the new artists under the roster, like Stat Quo, Cashis and Bobby Creekwater.
Around the time of recording Infinite, Eminem and rappers Proof and Kon Artis gathered the group of rappers now collectively in the group D12, short for “Detroit Twelve” or “Dirty Dozen”, performing in the manner of the multi-man group Wu-Tang Clan. In 2001, Eminem brought his rap group, D12, to the popular music scene, and the group’s debut album Devil’s Night came out that year. The first single released off of the album was “Shit on You”, followed by “Purple Pills”, an ode to recreational drug use. For radio and television, the censored version “Pills” was heavily rewritten to remove many of the song’s references to drugs and sex and was renamed “Purple Hills”. While that single was a hit, the album’s second single, “Fight Music”, was not as successful.
After their debut, D12 took a three-year break from the studio, later regrouping to release their second album, D12 World, in 2004, which featured the popular hit single release “My Band”. In April 2006 D12 member Deshaun “Proof” Holton was killed in a club brawl on 8 Mile Road in Detroit, Michigan, involving U.S. military veteran Keith Bender Jr., who was killed by Proof. The eruption is suspected to have been due to an argument over a game of pool. Proof was then allegedly shot by the bouncer Mario Etheridge, Bender’s cousin. He was taken by private vehicle to St. John Health’s Conner Creek Campus, an outpatient emergency treatment site, but pronounced dead on arrival. Eminem and former Detroit Shady Records artist Obie Trice spoke at the funeral.
D12 member Bizarre said that Eminem is not featured on his new album Blue Cheese & Coney Island because “he’s busy doing his thing”. In a December 2007 interview with the website DefSounds.com, Bizarre confirmed that the group is working on its third studio album, tentatively titled The Ambition, which he said was “halfway finished” at the time of the interview. Producers include Dr. Dre, Eminem, Luis Resto, and Hi-Tek.
Featurings and productions
See also: Eminem production discography and Eminem discography#Guest appearances
Although he typically collaborates with various rappers under Aftermath Entertainment and Shady Records, such as Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, D12, Eminem has collaborated with many other artists, including, Redman, Kid Rock, DMX, Missy Elliott, Jay-Z, Method Man, The Notorious B.I.G., Jadakiss, Fat Joe, Sticky Fingaz, T.I. and others. Eminem rapped a verse in a live performance of Busta Rhymes’ “Touch It” remix at the 2006 BET Music Awards on June 27, 2006. Eminem was featured on Akon’s single “Smack That” which appeared on Akon’s album Konvicted.
Eminem is also an active rap producer. Besides being the executive producer of D12’s two albums, Devil’s Night and D12 World, he has executive produced Obie Trice’s Cheers and Second Round’s on Me as well as 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and The Massacre. In addition, Eminem has produced and appeared on several songs by other famous rappers, such as Jadakiss’ “Welcome To D-Block”, Jay-Z’s “Renagade” and “Moment of Clarity” Lloyd Banks’ “On Fire”, “Warrior Part 2″, and “Hands Up”, Tony Yayo’s “Drama Setter”, Trick Trick’s “Welcome 2 Detroit”, and Xzibit’s “My Name” and “Don’t Approach Me”. Most of The Eminem Show was produced by Eminem himself, with co-production from longtime collaborator Jeff Bass. He split the production with Dr. Dre on Encore. In 2004, Eminem was the Executive Producer of 2Pac’s posthumous album Loyal to the Game with 2Pac’s mother Afeni Shakur. He produced the UK #1 single “Ghetto Gospel” which featured Elton John. He has produced “The Cross” off Nas’s album God’s Son. On August 15, 2006, Obie Trice released Second Round’s on Me. Eminem produced 8 tracks on the album. He was featured in the song “There They Go”. Eminem produced some tracks on the new Trick Trick album, The Villain. He is also featured in “Who Want It”.
Although he had a brief cameo in the 2001 film The Wash, Eminem made his official Hollywood acting debut with the semi-autobiographical 8 Mile, released in November 2002. He has said the movie is not an account of his life, but a representation of growing up in Detroit. He recorded several new songs for the soundtrack, including “Lose Yourself”, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2003. However, the song was not performed at the ceremony, due to Eminem’s absence at the ceremony. His collaborator, Luis Resto, who co-wrote the song, accepted the award.
Eminem has participated in various voice acting roles. Some of these include the video game 50 Cent: Bulletproof, where he voices an aging corrupt police officer that speaks in Ebonics and guest spots on the Comedy Central television show Crank Yankers, and a web cartoon called The Slim Shady Show, which has since been pulled off-line and is instead sold on DVD.
Eminem will star in the upcoming film, Have Gun – Will Travel, in which he will play a bounty hunter known as “Paladin”. He will also be involved in either the soundtrack or scoring. He was also in the running for the part of David Rice in 2008’s film Jumper after Tom Sturridge was dropped just 2 weeks before filming. Concerns over not having a more prominent actor prompted the director, Doug Liman, to consider other actors for the role. Hayden Christensen was eventually selected over Eminem.
On October 21, 2008, Eminem released a tell-all autobiography titled The Way I Am, which details his struggles with poverty, drugs, fame, heartbreak and depression, along with stories about his rise to fame and commentary on past controversies.
Marshall Mathers has often been subject of much scrutiny as a rapper as well in his personal life. He was married twice to Kimberley Anne Scott, whom he met in high school. They began their on-and-off relationship in 1989, getting married by 1999. Their first divorce was in 2001. In 2000, Scott attempted suicide and sued the rapper for defamation after he depicted her violent death in his song “Kim”. They remarried in 2006 but divorced again less than three months later, agreeing to share custody of their daughter, Hailie Jade Scott (born December 25, 1995). Hailie Scott has often been referenced or featured on various songs of Eminem, such as “’97 Bonnie & Clyde”, “Hailie’s Song”, “My Dad’s Gone Crazy”, “Mockingbird”, “Forgot About Dre”, “Cleanin’ Out My Closet”, “When I’m Gone”, “Deja vu”, and “Beautiful”.
Mathers adopted two other daughters: Alaina “Lainey” Mathers, the child of Kimberley Scott’s sister, and Whitney Mathers, Eminem’s step daughter.
In 1999 Mathers’ mother sued him for around US$10 million over alleged slander about her in his lyrics regarding The Slim Shady LP; she won only about US$1,600 in damages in 2001.
Mathers was arrested on June 3, 2000 during an altercation at a car audio store in Royal Oak, Michigan, with Douglas Dail, where he pulled out an unloaded gun and kept it pointed at the ground. The following day, in Warren, Michigan, he allegedly saw his then wife, Kim, kiss bouncer John Guerrera in the parking lot of the Hot Rock Café so he assaulted him. He was given two years probation for both the episodes.
In the summer of 2001, Mathers’ legal troubles continued, as he was given probation on weapons charges that stemmed from an argument with an employee of Psychopathic Records, giving him a fine around $2,000 as well as several hours of community service.
In 2007 Eminem’s music publishing company Eight Mile Style LLC together with Martin Affiliated LLC filed suit against Apple, Inc and Aftermath Entertainment claiming Aftermath did not have the appropriate authority to negotiate a deal with Apple for digital downloads of 93 songs by rapper Eminem on Apple’s iTunes service. The case against Apple went to trial in late September 2009 and was settled a few days later.
His group-mate Proof from D12 stated that Mathers “sobered up” in 2002 from drug and alcohol dependence. However, he did turn to zolpidem sleeping pills for relief from sleeping troubles. This caused Mathers to cancel the European leg of the Anger Management Tour in August 2005 and eventually go into rehab for treatment for a “dependency on sleep medication”. In a 2009 interview with British talk-show host Jonathan Ross, Mathers admitted that at the height of his addiction, he considered suicide, saying that “I just wasn’t taking care of myself, at times I wanted to just give it up.” He also confirmed that he is now sober, commenting that “ap was my drug … Then I had to resort to other things to make me feel that. Now rap’s getting me high again.”
Conflict with Mariah Carey
Eminem has written several songs referring to a relationship with pop singer Mariah Carey, although she denies the claim. Songs Eminem has referenced her on include “Superman”, “Jimmy Crack Corn”, “Bagpipes From Baghdad”, and “The Warning”. While “Superman” was released in 2003, Carey released a song entitled “Clown” on her Charmbracelet album, released around the same time, which makes similar references in line with her 2009 hit “Obsessed”.
Eminem’s “Bagpipes From Baghdad” from his album Relapse may be his best known Carey diss due to the controversy it caused. The song calls out Mariah and husband Nick Cannon’s relationship. Cannon responded to Eminem by saying his career is based on “racist bigotry”, and that he would get revenge on Eminem, joking that he may return to rapping. Eminem later stated that the couple misinterpreted the track and it was wishing the two the best. Cannon also stated that there were no hard feelings, and that he just had to express his feelings about the song.
In 2009 Carey released “Obsessed” in which she sings about an obsessed man who claims to be having a relationship with her. Cannon claimed that the song was not an insult directed at Eminem. Eminem then released a track in late July 2009 titled “The Warning” which was a direct insult at Mariah and Nick, and contained samples of a voice which is either Carey’s, or a very good voice actress (Eminem does not tell the listener).
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