Eminem is the stage name of Marshall Bruce Mathers III (born 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 Detroit.
Brought to fame by rapper/producer Dr. Dre, Eminem is perhaps best known for being one of the most successful rappers in the industry, not to mention one of the most critically acclaimed. 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 in 2003.
Early life and career
Mathers was born in St. Joseph, MO (near Kansas City), 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 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 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 bodies of his wife, her lover and his son. Another song, "Guilty Conscience" ends with Eminem and Dr. Dre encouraging a man to murder his wife and her lover.
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 his critics.
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 (2001), 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". 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 19th, 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 .
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: "I don't rap for dead presidents/ I'd rather see the president dead/ It's never been said, but I set precedents."
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 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 me."
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 "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.
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.
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. 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 who's 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.
Dr. Dre's leading protégé succeeded in multi-platinum record sales. Eminem was granted his own record label. He and his manager Paul Rosenberg created Shady Records in 2000. Eminem had signed his best-selling artist, 50 Cent, to the roster. His own Detroit collective D12 and rapper Obie Trice were also signed to the label. In 2003, Eminem and Dr. Dre signed on Atlanta rapper Stat Quo to the roster. DJ Green Lantern, the former deejay for Eminem, was signed to Shady Records until a dispute with 50 Cent forced him to depart from the label, and he is no longer associated with Eminem. The Alchemist is now officially Eminem's tour deejay.
Eminem signed a deal with Sirius satellite radio to program a rap-oriented station called Shade 45, which debuted on October 28, 2004. He also owns a clothing line called "Shady Ltd."
Eminem as a producer
Eminem is also active as a producer of rap records. Besides D12's two albums, Devil's Night and D12 World, he also produced Obie Trice's Cheers as well as 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' and The Massacre. Furthermore, his own records increasingly contain tracks produced by himself. He recently produced 2Pac's fifth posthumous album, Loyal To The Game, with 2Pac's mother, Afeni Shakur.
Retiring Slim Shady
In 2005, some industry insiders are speculating that Eminem is considering concluding his rapping career after five years and numerous multi-platinum albums. Speculation began in early 2005 about a double disc album to be released late that year, titled The Funeral. The rapper himself has not confirmed any of these rumors, which speculate that the album would revisit the various personas Eminem has portrayed while laying each to rest.
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. The Free Press, Eminem's hometown paper, wrote that the aptly titled Encore album would now stand as his final solo album.
Deep within Eminem's inner circle there is talk that the rapper is planning on retiring after he concludes his Anger Management Tour in Detroit. The reason for his retirement is to focus on acting, spending time with his daughter and niece, and more on his increasing popularity in production. Eminem and his manager Paul Rosenburg as well as their representatives will not comment on the situation. This may not mean his retirement from rapping completely, as he may well still contribute to many of his Shady Record artists projects as well as Dr. Dre's possible Detox album.
Eminem recently announced via MTV news that he does not plan on retiring soon, though he is planning on taking a break to produce music. He is still uncertain whether another album will be released, but his career has not come to a full stop.