“Dealing with backstabbers, there was one thing I learned. They’re only powerful when you got your back turned.”
Marshall Bruce Mathers III was born on October 17, 1972 in St. Joseph Missouri, after his mother went into a 73-hour labour. Eminem was born into a musical family, his parents worked in a band known as Daddy Warbucks before they speared.
Popularly known as one of the most influential rappers of all time, later in his career Marshall Bruce Mathers III took the professional name Eminem and Slim Shady.
As a child, Eminem stayed with his mother who frequently traveled from Michigan and Missouri, without staying in one place for more than two years. Missing a father figure in his life, Eminem often wrote letters to his father which his mother remarked were always returned. Eminem was a happy child but a “bit of a loner” who was often also bullied, as determined by his family members.
During his childhood Eminem stayed in a predominantly black neighborhood in Detroit. Sources allege he was beaten by black youths several times. As a child, Eminem aspired to become a comic book artist before he developed his interest for hip hop.
First introduction to hip-hop
“I didn’t have nothin’ going for me… school, home… until I found something I loved, which was music, and that changed everything.”
Ronnie Polkingharn, his mother’s half-brother was the one who introduced Eminem to his first rap song. The song Reckless, featuring Ice-T became Eminem’s first insight into the world of rapping.
Eminem’s childhood was troubled. He often got into fights with his mother who had a reputation of having a “paranoid personality.” Eminem dropped out of school at the age of 17. He also worked at odd jobs in order to help his mother with the finances. Reports however also allege that Debbie often threw her son out of the house. Since his teenage years, Eminem began to write songs.
At the tender age of 14, Eminem started to rap with his high-school friend, Mike Ruby. This was when he adopted the name M&M which later evolved to the rapper’s professional name. He would also attend freestyle rap battles with fellow rapper Proof. Mathers gradually also began to practice in open mic contests and tried to succeed in a predominantly black industry.
“When you’re a little kid, you don’t see color, and the fact that my friends were black never crossed my mind. It never became an issue until I was a teenager and started trying to rap.”
Eminem worked hard on creating verses with rhyming words. Although the lyrics often made little sense, the sounds and rhymes were appreciated by underground hip hop audiences.
In 1989, Eminem joined Bassmint Productions, who later became Soul Intent in 1992, along with rapper Proof and a group of Eminem’s childhood friends. Eminem also featured in his first music video in 1992. The song was titled Do-Da-Dippity by Champtown.
“Sporadic thoughts will pop into my head and I’ll have to go write something down, and the next thing you know I’ve written a whole song in an hour.”
Eminem released his first album Devil’s Night in 2001 after teaming up with four rappers. Together they formed The Dirty Dozen (D12).Eminem was signed by Jeff and Mark Bass’s FBT Productions who recorded his debut album Infinite for the Web Entertainment Label. The album did not succeed well. In the songs of the album, Eminem has opened up about his struggle to raise his daughter Halie Jade Scott Mathers, with regards to his poor financial condition.
During his struggle, Eminem is known to have even washed dishes at Gilbert’s Lodge, which was a family style restaurant at St Clair Shores. This earned him minimum wages. In order to make ends meet and to support a daughter, Eminem allegedly worked 60 hours a week for six months after his daughter’s birth. Eminem was fired shortly before Christmas. "It was, like, five days before Christmas, which is Hailie's birthday. I had, like, forty dollars to get her something," he quoted about his experience.
The Success of Slim Shady
“I need drama in my life to keep making music.”
Eminem became famous mainly after he created his alter ego, Slim Shady. Through the character of Slim Shady, the artist became vocal about his experience with rape, murder and drugs. In 1997, Eminem recorded his debut EP, The Slim Shady LP, released by Web Entertainment. Along with murder, rape and drugs, the lyrics also dealt with issues such as poverty, family and marital difficulties, amongst others.
In 1997, Mathers came in touch with Dr Dre through Rap Olympics in Los Angeles. Dr Dre is the founder of Aftermath Entertainment and hip-hop group N.W.A. He was impressed by Mather’s rapping talent and expressed his decision to work with Mathers, although he was criticized for hiring a white rapper.
Eminem was star stuck and had been a fan of Dr Dre since his teenage years. "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," spoke Mathers of his experience of working with Dre.
The album The Slim Shady LP was released in February 1997 and became the year’s most popular albums. The song Guilty Consicience also marks the beginning of friendship between Dr Dre and Eminem.
His other albums were also widely received by the audience and marked his successful career, Marshall Mathers LP was released in May 2000. The album sold 1.76 million copies in its first week and broke US records of Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle which was the fastest selling hip hop album. The Eminem Show was released in 2002, Encore in 2004 and Curtain Call: The Hits in 2005.
“Everybody has goals, aspirations or whatever, and everybody has been at a point in their life where nobody believed in them.”
Eminem is regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop artists. He ranked number 83 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of all Time, and number 79 on VH1 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Eminem also became the seventh-greatest icon in the history of pop music in 2010, along with many accolades from The Source, About.com, Billboard, Nielsen SoundScan, and Spotify, amongst others.
Eminem was the second best-selling male artist in June 2014 of the Nielsen SounScan era. After selling 45.1 million albums and 42 million tracks, he was also ranked the sixth bestselling artists in the United States in 2014. Mathers is also one of the rare artists to have ten albums on Billboard 200.
He was also called the King of Hip-Hop by Rolling Stones. His album The Marshall Mathers LP became the fastest selling solo album in the history of US. It was also ranked as the greatest albums by Rolling Stone, Time and XXL.
The singles Stan became the most critically acclaimed songs and Pitchfork also became “a cultural milestone.” Several artists have named Eminem as an influence, these include Logic, Lil Wayne, Lana Del Rey, Freddie Gibbs, amongst others. Furthermore, Eminem is also known to have played a significant role in influencing the careers of 50 Cent, Bobby Creekwater, D12, Boogie, Cashis, Obie Trice, Start Quo, Yelawolf and the rap group Slaughterhouse.
“The truth is you don't know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed.”
Eminem has also won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Original Song for his song, Lose Yourself. The song was written by Luis Resto and Jeff Bass. The award made Eminem the first rapper to receive this honour. He has also won fifteen Grammy Awards. In his song’s lyrics Mathers has often criticized awards. This further made Eminem believe that his negative opinion of awards and accolades would further prevent him from winning any. The rapper also won the Global Icon Award in 2013 at MTV Europe Music Awards in Amsterdam.
Furthermore, the artist has been lauded for the quality of his lyrics and for his “verbal energy.” He was listed ninth on MTV’s Greatest MCs of All Time. He was number thirteenth on MTV’s 22 Greatest Voices in Music. In 2008, Eminem was cited the Best Rapper Alive.
Not just music
“I say what I want to say and do what I want to do. There’s no in between. People will either love you for it or hate you for it.”
Apart from being a successful rapper and an artist, Eminem also made it into acting. He appeared in a small role in 2001 in the film The Wash and played an extra in the 1988 Korn music video Got the Life. He also played an autobiographical role in the film 8 Mile in 2002.
He also appeared in the video game 50 Cent: Bulletproof and on the television show Crank Yankers. Furthermore, he also did a cameo in the film Funny People in 2009 and played another cameo in 2014 film, The Interview. In Entourage, Eminem played himself with Christina Aguilera.
“I am whatever you say I am; if I wasn't, then why would you say I am.”
Mathers also published a non-fiction book in 2000, Angry Blonde. In 2008, his autobiography The Way I am was published. Another autobiography of Mather’s mother was also published in 2008, My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem.
“Somewhere deep down there's a decent man in me, he just can't be found.”
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