AKA Marshall Bruce Mathers III
Birthplace: Kansas City, MO
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The Real Slim Shady
Yet another white performer to adopt a black musical form and achieve massive popularity with the white youth market (a phenomenon perhaps most clearly demonstrated by the career of Elvis Presley), Eminem has also joined the list of artists to be transformed from public menace to respectable mainstream performer through the power of extravagant record sales (another move previously exemplified by Presley). Like most of the latter group, the rapper's rise to fame has been riddled with controversies, personal crises and an inability to find a healthy way to deal with his sudden fame. Unlike most of the other names in the former category, however, Eminem emerged from within the black scene that inspired him and has remained integrated within it, rather than creating a whitewashed "Pat Boone" version of hip-hop deliberately separated from its origins.
Brought into the world as Marshal Mathers III in St. Joseph, Missouri, the future rapper's father abandoned his family less than a year later, leaving the still-teenaged mother to raise their son on her own. Extremely poor and constantly forced to move between various unpleasant living situations in Detroit and Kansas City, by all accounts Mathers had a throughly miserable childhood -- the details of which have since become the subject of several of his songs. An interest in rap emerged early in his life, and by the age of 14 he was making a serious effort to develop his rhyming skills. High school proved to be a poor match for his temperament, and after failing the 9th grade three times he finally dropped out to focus fully on pursuing a career in music. The hip-hop community was far from immediately accepting of the moody white boy, but Mathers (who had adopted the stage name M&M, later modified to Eminem) remained unshakeable in his determination to establish himself -- a determination that was edged towards desperation by the pregnancy of his girlfriend Kim in 1995.
After a period performing with The New Jacks, Eminem began to earn some recognition in Soul Intent through a small pressing of the single Fuckin' Backstabber b/w Biterphobia in 1995. The following year he recorded the solo album Infinite, released in a quantity of only 400 and distributed mostly by hand; the album was not very well-received, being dismissed by many in the hip-hop community as too derivative. The repercussions of the record's failure on his personal life were severe enough to push the rapper into an attempt at suicide, but following his recovery from the attempt he renewed his efforts, drawing on more negative sources of inspiration to create The Slim Shady EP (1997). The demo EP eventually came to the attention of rapper/producer Dr. Dre, who was impressed enough to seek out its author and sign him to a contract.
Upon the release of his Dre/Bass Brothers-produced debut The Slim Shady LP in 1999, Eminem's fortunes made an immediate and dramatic turnaround, immersing the rapper in a frenzy of media attention, accolades and controversy. The album managed to climb up to the #2 slot on the mainstream charts (a rare feat for a hip-hop album at the time) as well as earning itself triple-platinum status and placing the lead single My Name Is in the top 40. The tracks Guilty Conscience and '97 Bonnie & Clyde would receive an equal amount of attention -- not because of sales, but as a result of the reaction against some of the violent imagery used in the lyrics (both were centered around a man murdering his wife for some reason). Critical response came out as much in favor of the album as against, however, and ultimately The Slim Shady LP prompted a more serious consideration in the mainstream of the hip-hop/rap genre.
In the interim before his next album Eminem contributed to Dr. Dre's second solo effort Dr. Dre 2001, featuring on the tracks What's the Difference and Forgot About Dre. His own second effort, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000), was released six months later and quickly surpassed even the enormous commercial achievements of his debut: after immediately climbing to the top of the mainstream charts, it managed to hold on to that position for nine weeks in a row, as well as achieving platinum sales many times over. Another lively outburst of praise and condemnation met its arrival, some calling it the best hip-hop album ever released and others decrying its expressions of violence, misogyny and homophobia. These tumultuous developments in his career were accompanied by a corresponding upheaval in his personal life, with the rapper having to juggle a defamation lawsuit from his mother, divorce and custody struggles with his wife Kim Scott and a pair of assault and concealed weapon charges -- all within the period between late 1999 and 2000.
Eminem's runaway success inevitably directed significant attention to all of the projects that had his involvement -- in particular to the group D12 (or The Dirty Dozen), into whose ranks the rapper had become enlisted during the mid-90s by his childhood friend Proof (and where he first made use of his 'Slim Shady' pseudonym). This attention made the first properly distributed D12 recordings possible, beginning with the single Shit on You in 2000 and followed by the full-length album Devil's Night and the single Purple Pills in 2001 (all three of which were issued under his own Shady Records imprint, founded in 2000). The hype surrounding Eminem's solo career easily carried the album to the top of the charts in both the States and UK, and helped it to achieve platinum sales. Three years passed before the second D12 full-length D12 World (2004) materialized, but upon its arrival the album immediately followed its predecessor to the top of US and UK mainstream charts.
For his appropriately-named third effort The Eminem Show (2002) the rapper continued to mine the turmoil of his personal life for subject matter, addressing issues ranging between the problems of his fame, his family troubles and his various legal battles. In addition to taking a more introspective approach to the material, Eminem also assumed a prominent production role on the recordings -- although his longtime producers Dr. Dre and Jeff Bass of the Bass Brothers both made significant contributions. As had happened with The Marshall Mathers LP, after its release the album made a rapid move to the top of the charts and into multi-platinum sales, and while the usual conservative outcry in response to his controversial lyrics was somewhat more subdued this time around, the supportive voices were noticeably milder as well.
As is almost inevitable amongst popular music celebrities, Eminem made the decision to add an acting career to his list of activities in the early 00s. After an minor, uncredited appearance in the Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg vehicle The Wash in 2001, the rapper went straight into a starring role in the film 8 Mile (2002) -- a hip-hop-centered drama loosely based on his own life story. Unlike most popstar movie projects, however, the film received reasonably strong critical notices, as did Eminem's acting abilities. The original soundtrack album (which featured 4 new solo tracks and one new D12 track) was given a similarly enthusiastic reception, with the collection's featured single Lose Yourself even becoming the first hip-hop performer to receive an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
In 2004 the rapper released his fifth full-length effort Encore, co-produced by himself, Dre, Luis Resto and Mike Elizondo. The usual flurry of controversy was stirred up by the content -- this time due to the anti-Bush sentiments of the songs We As Americans and Mosh, both made available via the internet (the latter just prior to the 2004 presidential election). A negative reaction was also instigated by the lead single Just Lose It, which poked fun at the kooky antics of damaged pop icon Michael Jackson; many of Jackson's supporters publicly condemned the track, and several networks ceased to broadcast the video as a result. Encore still easily reached the top of the charts and placed four of it's singles in the top 40. Critical response to the album was particularly lukewarm, however, and the drop in sales from 8x platinum to a mere 4x platinum was regarded by the industry as a disappointment. An international tour was organized for 2005, but the European leg scheduled for late summer was canceled when the rapper checked himself into rehab in order to overcome a dependency on sleep medication. A greatest hits collection titled Curtain Call was subsequently released in December, instigating rumors of Eminem's retirement from the music industry.
Mother: Debbie Mathers (estranged)
Brother: Nathan Mathers (b. 3-Feb-1986)
Wife: Kim Mathers (m. 6-Jun-1999, div. 7-Aug-2000, remarried 14-Jan-2006, div. 18-Dec-2006)
Daughter: Hailie Jade (b. 25-Dec-1995 with Kim Mathers)
High School: Lincoln High School, Warren, MI
Soul Intent 1995
SiriusXM Shade 45
Grammy Best Rap Album (for The Slim Shady LP) (1999)
Grammy Best Rap Solo Performance (for My Name Is) (1999)
Grammy Best Rap Album (for The Marshall Mathers LP) (2000)
Grammy Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group (with Dr. Dre, for Forgot About Dre) (2000)
Grammy Best Rap Solo Performance (for The Real Slim Shady) (2000)
Grammy Best Short Form Music Video (for Without Me) (2002)
Grammy Best Rap Album (for The Eminem Show) (2002)
Grammy Best Rap Song (for Lose Yourself) (2003)
Grammy Best Male Rap Solo Performance (for Lose Yourself) (2003)
Oscar for Best Music Original Song 2003 for 8 Mile (shared)
Endorsement of Chrysler (2011)
Suicide Attempt 1996
Drug Overdose 1996
Took the Fifth (17-Apr-2000)
Drug Overdose 2005
unknown detox facility Aug-2005
Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Unlawful Possession of a Firearm
Defamation according to lawsuit filed by mother Debbie Mathers (2000), settled for $25,000
Defamation according to lawsuit filed by DeAngelo Bailey, case dismissed (17-Oct-2003)
Risk Factors: Homophobia, Insomnia, Depression
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
The Defiant Ones (9-Jul-2017)
How to Make Money Selling Drugs (7-Sep-2012) · Himself
Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap (21-Jan-2012) · Himself
Funny People (20-Jul-2009) · Himself
8 Mile (8-Sep-2002) · Jimmy
The Up in Smoke Tour (2-Dec-2000) · Himself
Da Hip Hop Witch (31-Oct-2000) · Himself
Rotten Library Page:
Author of books:
Angry Blonde (2000)
The Way I Am (2008, memoir)
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