Eminem performing in 2014
|Birth name||Marshall Bruce Mathers III|
|Also known as|
|Born||October 17, 1972|
St. Joseph, Missouri, U.S.
|Origin||Detroit, Michigan, U.S.|
Marshall Bruce Mathers III (born October 17, 1972 in St. Joseph), better known by his stage name Eminem, is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, and actor. He gained rapid popularity in 1999 with the release of the album The Slim Shady LP, which won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album that year. His next work, The Marshall Mathers LP, became the best-selling solo album in U.S. history. This made him known around the world, and helped publicize his record label, Shady Records, and his group, D12.
The Marshall Mathers LP and his fourth album, The Eminem Show, also won the Grammy Awards, making him the first artist to win the Best Rap Album of the Year award three times in a row. In 2003, he won an Oscar for Best Original Song with "Lose Yourself," which was featured in his semi-biopic, 8 Mile. "Lose Yourself" would become the single that for the longest time occupied the top spot of the hip-hop charts. In 2004, rumors about the end of his career were announced after the release of Encore, which were ended with the announcement of Relapse, officially released on May 15, 2009. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Eminem was the best selling artist of the 2000s in the United States and is currently the 30th best selling artist of all time, according to the ranking of the RIAA, with 115 million albums sold worldwide, making him one of the record sales recording artists. In 2010, he released Recovery, which featured the single "Love the Way You Lie," which was a huge commercial success. Recovery became the sixth album in-a-row by Eminem to start in the first position of the United States. At first, the album was at the top for five weeks in a row, returning later to two, and adding up to seven weeks in total.
Eminem was voted #79 on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" list. On a similar list, he was ranked 82nd by Rolling Stone magazine. Including work with D12, Eminem piles up 9 albums at the top of the Billboard Top 200, 7 solo (6 studio, 1 compilation) and 2 solo with D12. He has 13 singles in the top position worldwide. Such a success made Eminem be recognized by the Billboard as the Artist of the Decade. According to the same Billboard, the rapper had two of the five best-selling albums between 2000 and 2009. Eminem has also sold more than 17 million downloads of his songs in the United States alone. In 2010, MTV ranked Eminem as the seventh-largest icon in pop music history. In 2009, Eminem was elected, in popular voting, the best rapper of all time by Vibe magazine, beating Tupac in the finals.
Early life[change | change source]
Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, Marshall Bruce Mathers III was the only son of Deborah Nelson Mathers-Briggs and Marshall Bruce Mathers, Jr. His ancestry is diverse, including Scottish, Welsh, English, German, Swiss, Polish, and possibly Luxemburgish ancestors. His father abandoned his family when he was a year and a half old, and Marshall was raised only by his mother in poverty. At age twelve, he and his mother Deborah had moved several times and lived in several towns and cities in Missouri (including Saint Joseph, Savannah, and Kansas City) before settling in Warren, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.
After getting a copy of the album Licensed to Ill, from the Beastie Boys group as a teenager, Marshall became interested in hip-hop, making inexperienced raps at the age of 14, under the pseudonym "M&M". Shortly after that, he joined the Bassmint Productions group, which released an EP titled Steppin' onto the Scene. After the release of the EP, Marshall left the group and changed his stage name to "Soul Intent" and released in 1995 their first single called "Fuckin' Backstabber" under the independent record label Mashin' Duck Records. Although a student at Lincoln High School in Warren, he often participated in freestyle battles at the non-functioning Osborn High School on the east side of Detroit. Although most of the hip-hop movement members in his state were descendants of African-Americans, Marshall ended up being well accepted by the public underground hip-hop. After repeating the ninth grade twice for too many fouls and low grades, he dropped out of school at age 17.
In 1991, his mother-based uncle, Ronald "Ronnie" Nelson, committed suicide with a shotgun shot in the head. Marshall was very close to him and was devastated by this fact. Today, he sports a tattoo on his left arm with the writing: "Ronnie RIP".
Career[change | change source]
1992–1996: Early career and Infinite[change | change source]
One of Mathers' early mentors as a rapper was the local rapper Champtown, who gave Mathers his first time in a studio. Mathers also starred in his first music in Champtown's "Do-Da-Dipity" from 1992. Mathers and Champtown later had a falling out. Mathers was first signed to FBT Productions in 1992, run by brothers Jeff and Mark Bass. Mathers also had a minimum wage job as a cook and dishwasher at the Gilbert's Lodge restaurant in St. Clair Shores for some time. In 1996, his debut album Infinite, which was recorded at Bassmint, a recording studio owned by the Bass Brothers, was released on the independent company Web Entertainment. Eminem recalls "Obviously, I was young and influenced by other artists, and I remember several comments saying that I looked like Nas and AZ. Infinite served me to try to figure out what my rap style was, how my voice would sound on the mic and live. It was a growth phase. I felt ' infinite ' as a demo album that ended up being pressed to become studio." Subjects covered in Infinite included his problems in giving his newborn daughter, Hailie Jade Mathers, a decent upbringing while he had little money and his strong desire to get rich. Early in his career, Eminem formed a hip hop duo with another Detroit rapper, Royce da 5'9", called Bad Meets Evil. After the release of Infinite, Eminem's personal problems and abuse of drugs and alcohol were too much and he attempted suicide.
Jimmy Iovine, director of Interscope Records, asked for a demo from Eminem after he finished second in the 1997 Rap Olympics. Eminem had also won Wake Up show's Freestyle Performer of The Year, which helped him to land a recording contract. Iovine played the demo for rap legend and producer Dr. Dre, the owner of Aftermath Entertainment. The two began recording songs for Eminem's upcoming album, The Slim Shady LP and Eminem had a cameo appearance on the album Devil Without a Cause by Kid Rock. Hip-Hop magazine The Source had Eminem in its "Unsigned Hype" article in March 1998.
1997–1999: The Slim Shady LP[change | change source]
After signing for Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records in 1998, Eminem released his first major studio album, The Slim Shady LP, which was based on productions by Dr. Dre, a year later in 1999. Billboard praised the album as "light years ahead of the material he had written before". It went on to be one of the most popular albums of 1999, where it went and achieved three times platinum in the United States before the end of the year. The album's popularity also brought controversy around much of the albums lyrics. In "'97 Bonnie and Clyde" he describes a trip with his newborn daughter, where he discards his wife's body. Another song, "Guilty Conscience", ends with urging a man to assassinate his wife and his lover. "Guilty Conscience" marked the beginning of the friendship and musical bond between Dr. Dre and Eminem. The two would later collaborate on a lot 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" from Encore, "Old Time's Sake" and "Crack a Bottle" from Relapse and "I Need a Doctor" and "Die Hard" from Dr. Dre's Detox. Dr. Dre would appear to have at least one guest appearance on all of Eminem's studio albums for the record label Aftermath. The album has now achieved 4x platinum in the US. With this release, Eminem was accused of imitating the style and subject of choice of underground rapper Cage.
2000–2001: The Marshall Mathers LP[change | change source]
The Marshall Mathers LP was released in May 2000. The album sold more than 1.78 million copies in the US in its first week alone, breaking both the record for the best-selling hip hop album, last held by Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle, and the best-selling album in its first week in the U.S., last held by Britney Spears' Oops! ... I Did It Again. The first single from the album, "The Real Slim Shady", being a huge success, created a lot of controversy by insulting celebrities and making dubious claims about them. Among other thing, he claims that Christina Aguilera had oral sex with Fred Durst and Carson Daly. On the album's second single, "The Way I Am", he tells his fans about the pressure his record company puts on him to surpass the sale his previous hit, "My Name Is", had. Although Eminem parodies rock musician Marilyn Manson in the song, the artists are openly friends. Manson starred in the music video for "The Way I Am" and he was also part of a remix of the song for a concert with Eminem. On the album's third and most successful single, "Stan", he samples Dido's song "Thank You". In the song, Eminem plays the personality of an psychopathic fan who ends up killing himself and his pregnant girlfriend, similar to the song "'97 Bonnie & Clyde" from The Slim Shady LP. In the music video of "Stan", Eminem appears while writing with his left hand, which ended a fan debate about with which hand he is dominant. Q Magazine awarded Stan to be the third best selling rap song ever, while Top40-Charts.com placed the song to be the tenth best-selling rap song. The song has since been praised and the Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the song as #290 in their 500 Best Songs of All Time. In July 2000, Eminem became the first white person to come to the front page of The Source Magazine. The album has received 10x platinum status from the RIAA.
Eminem appeared alongside Elton John at the 43rd Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in 2001. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), an organization that perceived Eminem's lyrics to be homophobic, condemned the openly gay John's decision to perform with Eminem. Entertainment Weekly put the appearance on their end-of-the-decade, best-of list, with the words "It was the hug heard around the world. Eminem, under accusations of homophobic lyrics, shared the stage with a homo icon for a performance of Stan that would have been unforgettable in any context." On February 21, the day of the ceremony, GLAAD held a protest outside the Staples Center, the site where the distribution took place. He also participated in the Up In The Smoke Tour with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit and Ice Cube. He also participated in the Family Values Tour with the band Limp Bizkit.
2002–2003: The Eminem Show[change | change source]
Eminem's third-major album, The Eminem Show, was released in the summer of 2002 and turned out to be another big hit for the rapper. The album peaked at the Billboard Hot 100, selling well over a million copies in its first week. The album's first single was the song "Without Me", in which Eminem made depressive comments about Limp Bizkit, Moby and Lynne Cheney, among others. Other singles from the album include "Cleanin' Out My Closet" and "Sing for the Moment". The album has been certified eight times platinum by the RIAA. The album touches on topics such as his way to fame, his relationship with his wife and daughter and his status in the hip-hop community. He also addresses his charge of assaulting a bouncer who kissed his wife in 2000. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic felt that even though anger was present on several of the album's tracks, the album was not as provocative as The Marshall Mathers LP. However, L. Brent Bozell III, who previously criticized The Marshall Mathers LP, for being too tasteless and incoherent, noted that The Eminem Show used extensive obscene language and therefore gave Eminem the nickname Eminef, for the cleansing of the word motherfucker, a word often used on the album. The album sold 10,600,000 copies, making it one of Eminem's two diamond-certified studio albums.
2004–2005: Encore[change | change source]
On December 8, 2003, The Media Research Center (MRC) said that the United States Secret Service admitted that it was "keeping an eye on Eminem" for his allegations and threats with the President of the United States. The lyrics in question are:
- "Fuck money, I don't rap for dead presidents. I'd rather see the president dead. It's never saw anyone say it, but I set precedents."
Encore was released in 2004 and became another chart-topping leader, driven by the single "Just Lose It", which disrespects pop singer Michael Jackson. On October 12 of the same year, a week after the release of "Just Lose It", Jackson was invited to a radio show in Los Angeles where he expressed his displeasure with the music video, which parodies the trial for child abuse, plastic surgeries, and the incident in which Michael's hair caught fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial in 1984. Many of Jackson's supporters and friends commented on the video, including Stevie Wonder, who said that the video "is like kicking someone who is already on the ground" and "is idiocy", and Steve Harvey, who stated,
- "Eminem is missing his ghetto pass. We want to put it back!" In the music video, Eminem parodies MC Hammer and Madonna.
In contrast, the comedian "Weird Al" Yankovic made a protest to Eminem in the song "Couch Potato", in which he parodies the international success of "Lose Yourself" of the movie 8 Mile. Yankovic said: "Last year, Eminem forced me to stop the production of the parody video of "Lose Yourself" because he thought it would be detrimental to his image and his career. So the irony of the situation with Michael is not lost to me." Black Entertainment Television was the first channel to ask to stop displaying the video. However, MTV announced that it would continue to display "Just Lose It." President Raymond "Benzino" Scott of the Source magazine, wanted not only the video to be removed, but also the song from the album, and a public apology from Eminem to Jackson, which did not occur. In 2007, Jackson and Sony bought Famous Music LLC from Viacom. The acquisition thus gave them rights to the songs from Shakira, Beck and Eminem among others.
Despite the comic issue of the first single, Encore had along with him serious subject tracks, such as the song "Mosh". On October 25, 2004, a week before the United States presidential election, Eminem released the music video for "Mosh" on the internet. The song highlights a strong anti-Bush message, with excerpts like "Go Screw Bush" and "This weapon of mass destruction that we call the president." The video shows Eminem gathering an army of people, including rapper Lloyd Banks, presented as victims of the Bush administration and were taken to the White House. However, at the moment the weapons break, it is revealed that people are there only to vote, and it ends with the words "Vote Tuesday 2 November!" on the screen. After Bush was re-elected, Eminem modified the video, with demonstrators invading while the president was giving a lecture.
2005–2008: Rumors about the end of career[change | change source]
In 2005, many experts in the music business speculated that Eminem was thinking of ending his career after six years and albums with several certifications. Such speculation began in 2005, when a double album was about to be released under the name of The Funeral. Subsequently, it was revealed that the album was a compilation of greatest hits, and was sold under the name Curtain Call: The Hits. The album was released by Aftermath Entertainment in December 2005, and sold almost 441,000 copies in the first week in the U.S. It was Eminem's fourth consecutive album to be number one on the Billboard Hot 100. He was certified as platinum twice by the RIAA.
In July 2005, the Detroit Free Press published that this would be the final stage of Eminem's career, and that he would be more interested in becoming a producer or executive of a record label. On the same day of the release of his compilation, Eminem denied that he would be retiring through the radio Mojo in the Morning of Detroit, but stated that he would give a break in his career:
- "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 the new CD Curtain Call, because this could be the final thing. We don’t know." In 2006, Eminem released a new compilation, Eminem Presents: The Re-Up, to help the growth of the newly created Shady Records label.
Eminem was the subject of the book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America by Bernard Goldberg, in which he was ranked in position 58. Goldberg quoted a column of Bob Herbert from The New York Times, who said, "In the world of Eminem, all women are whores and he is eager to rape them and then murder them". Goldberg also cited the song "No One's Iller" from The Slim Shady EP as an example of misogyny. In the summer of 2005, Eminem announced a tour called Anger Management Tour, which would have the special participation of 50 Cent, G-Unit, Lil Jon, D12, Obie Trice and others. In August, the European part of the tour was cancelled, as Eminem claimed that he had entered a drug rehab clinic for the treatment of a dependence on sleeping pills.
2008-2009: Relapse[change | change source]
In September 2007, Eminem spoke at the Hot 97 radio station in New York City in an interview with 50 Cent, which was in "limbo" and would decide when to release a new album. He said, "I'm always working. I'm always in the studio. It's good now, there's a strong energy on the label. For a while I don't want to go back to the studio to record... for personal matters. I'm getting out of my personal stuff and feeling better."
Eminem made an appearance in September 2008 at his radio station, the Shade 45, where he said: "Now I'm concentrating only on my tasks, creating new tracks and producing a lot of things. You know, the more I keep producing the more experience I get, because I get to know things better." It was at this time that Interscope Records finally confirmed the release of a new rapper album, which would be released in the spring of 2009. In December 2008 more details were revealed: The album would be called Relapse and most of the tracks would be produced by Dr. Dre.
In a statement on March 5, 2009, Eminem stated that he would release two albums that year. The first single, "We Made You", was released in April and stood out for the comic theme. Relapse, the first of the announced Records, was officially released on May 19, but did not achieve the sale success as in the previous four albums. Even then, he received positive reviews for Eminem's reinstatement in the world hip hop scene. During the 2009 Video Music Awards, the comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who was dressed in an angel suit, fell from the top of the ceiling and hit his buttocks on the face of Eminem, who revolted and left the awards. Three days later, the rapper admitted that the scene was staged and the two had planned it all. On November 19, Eminem announced on his website the release of Relapse: Refill for December 21. It was a relaunch of Relapse with the addition of seven bonus tracks, including "Forever" and "Taking My Ball". In a statement, he described the next CD:
I want to deliver more material to the fans this year as had previously planned. We hope that the refill tracks will be welcomed by the fans as a Relapse 2 preview next year. I came back to work with Dre and other producers like Just Blaze, and I went in a completely different direction than when I started out of nowhere. The new tracks sounded a lot different than the ones I planned for Relapse 2, but I still have other things to be heard.
Personal life[change | change source]
Eminem has one biological daughter named Hailie Jade Scott Mathers by ex-wife Kimberly Anne Scott Mathers. Kimberly and Eminem married in 1999. After debuting the 2000 hit, "Kim" they separated the following year. He has adopted Kang Hyewon as his daughter. He is the legal guardian of his half-brother, Nathan.
Discography[change | change source]
- Infinite (1996)
- The Slim Shady LP (1999)
- The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
- The Eminem Show (2002)
- Encore (2004)
- Relapse (2009)
- Recovery (2010)
- The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013)
- Revival (2017)
- Kamikaze (2018)
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