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Controversial and often misunderstood, Eminem proved he was an unstoppable force in the music industry from the minute he released his landmark debut, The Slim Shady LP (1999). Filled with harsh, confessional lyrics about domestic violence, drug use, and degradation of women - including his own mother and wife - Eminem pushed the boundaries of artistry and free speech and introduced to the world his brutally honest alter ego, Slim Shady. Nonetheless, the divisive superstar received both critical and commercial acclaim for his music, including top music honors for The Slim Shady LP and subsequent releases, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) and The Eminem Show (2002). Eminem flexed his acting muscles with a breakout performance in the semi-autobiographical film, "8 Mile" (2002), for which he won a Best Song Academy Award in 2003 for the theme song, "Lose Yourself." As a legendary provocateur and wordsmith, Eminem often poked fun at other artists, angered cultural groups, inspired disenfranchised youth, and battled his own demons, yet it was his unflinching attitude and unprecedented musical genius that served him well throughout his long and illustrious career.Long before the world knew him as Eminem, he...
Controversial and often misunderstood, Eminem proved he was an unstoppable force in the music industry from the minute he released his landmark debut, The Slim Shady LP (1999). Filled with harsh, confessional lyrics about domestic violence, drug use, and degradation of women - including his own mother and wife - Eminem pushed the boundaries of artistry and free speech and introduced to the world his brutally honest alter ego, Slim Shady. Nonetheless, the divisive superstar received both critical and commercial acclaim for his music, including top music honors for The Slim Shady LP and subsequent releases, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) and The Eminem Show (2002). Eminem flexed his acting muscles with a breakout performance in the semi-autobiographical film, "8 Mile" (2002), for which he won a Best Song Academy Award in 2003 for the theme song, "Lose Yourself." As a legendary provocateur and wordsmith, Eminem often poked fun at other artists, angered cultural groups, inspired disenfranchised youth, and battled his own demons, yet it was his unflinching attitude and unprecedented musical genius that served him well throughout his long and illustrious career.
Long before the world knew him as Eminem, he was born Marshall Bruce Mathers III on Oct. 17, 1972 in Kansas City, MO to Deborah Nelson Mathers-Briggs and Marshall Bruce Mathers, Jr. His mother raised the future star after his father abandoned them when Eminem was only 18 months old. The two of them moved between several Missouri towns before settling into a suburb located outside Detroit, MI, where they lived in near-poverty conditions. As a teen attending Lincoln High School in the Detroit suburb of Warren, the aspiring musical artist competed in underground freestyle rap battles. He dropped out of high school at 17 to work at local restaurants as a waiter and dishwasher. Influenced by the music of the Beastie Boys and 2 Live Crew, Eminem gained the respect of underground hip-hop acts with his freestyle rap delivery. He was making minimum wage when he first signed on to record label FBT Productions in 1992 and released his independent debut album, Infinite in 1996, shortly after his daughter Hailie Jade - whom he considered the most important person in his life - was born. Eminem rapped about his struggles as a young artist and father, including personal bouts with drugs and alcohol, as well as his difficulty being a white rapper.
One of Eminem's earliest fans was Interscope Records CEO Jimmy Iovine, who requested a demo of Eminem's work after he placed second at the 1997 Rap Olympics. Iovine shared the demo with influential rapper and Aftermath Entertainment founder Dr. Dre, who had turned former protégé Snoop Dogg into a music superstar. Dr. Dre signed Eminem to Aftermath, and in 1999, released his mainstream debut, The Slim Shady LP. Titled after his alter ego, the obnoxious loudmouth Slim Shady, Eminem delivered sexually explicit and violent lyrics, such as fantasies of killing his ex-wife (and Hailie Jade's mother), Kimberley Scott, as well as verbally attacking his own mother, Deborah Mathers-Briggs, who sued the rapper for $10 million over allegedly causing her emotional distress and ruining her reputation. Mathers-Briggs won only $1,600 in damages after suing her son in 2001. Despite the controversial lyrics and his alter ego's outrageous persona, The Slim Shady LP was both a critical and commercial success with both white and black listeners. The album, named one of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" by Rolling Stone magazine, received the Best Rap Album trophy at the 2000 Grammy Awards.
His sophomore album, The Marshall Mathers LP garnered Eminem more praise from the music industry, critics, and record buyers. However, not everyone was a fan of the rapper's in-your-face mockery and over-inflated ego. Eminem skewered mainstream celebrities such as pop singers Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears on his songs and in his music videos. Eminem also came under fire from cultural organizations such as GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), who criticized the album's profane and sometimes homophobic lyrics. The most talked-about track, titled "Stan," focused on the rapper's struggles with fame and told the story of an obsessed fan who commits a crime to get Eminem's attention. The single, which included a sample of Dido's 2001 hit "Thank You," helped The Marshall Mathers LP earn several top honors, including a Grammy nomination in 2001 for Album of the Year. At that year's telecast, Eminem performed "Stan" with rock legend and openly gay artist Elton John. GLAAD protested the much talked-about duet, which ended with an onstage hug between the two very different artists who would later go on to become great friends and confidants.
The rapper continued to reign over the music charts in 2002 with his third album, The Eminem Show, but it was Eminem's feature film debut as an actor that year in "8 Mile" that garnered the most attention. In the semi-autobiographical film, he played Jimmy "B-Rabbit" Smith, Jr., an aspiring rapper living in a Detroit trailer park with his mother and little sister, in the Curtis Hanson-directed drama. The film also starred Oscar winner Kim Basinger as Jimmy's mother, Mekhi Phifer as his best friend, and Brittany Murphy as his love interest. Eminem wowed critics and audiences with his genuinely emotional and raw performance, while the theme song "Lose Yourself" received some of the highest praises in the artist's career. The controversial rapper added Oscar winner to his resume after "Lose Yourself" won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Original Song. His successful venture into acting opened the doors for Eminem to embark on other projects, which included discovering rapper 50 Cent, and producing the hip-hop group, D12. In the midst of his massive success in the music industry, however, Eminem often found himself being pulled back and forth between two different worlds. Seemingly always in legal trouble, the rapper was in constant divorce and custody battles with Kimberley Scott (whom he divorced in 2001 and then remarried in 2006), not to mention a weapons charge in 2001 that resulted from an ongoing rivalry with hip-hop act Insane Clown Posse.
After the back-to-back release of his albums Encore (2004) and Curtain Call - The Hits (2005), Eminem took a three-year hiatus in which he became an almost recluse in his Michigan mansion that prompted the music industry and fans to wonder if he had truly retired. The outspoken rapper finally released the long awaited album Relapse in 2009, which was almost eclipsed by a headline-grabbing stunt at that year's MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles when British actor Sacha Baron Cohen, who was promoting his comedy film "Bruno" (2009), descended upon the MTV Movie Awards audience dressed up as an angel and managed to land his bare buttocks on Eminem's face. The furious rapper stormed out in disgust, only to reveal a few days later that he was in on the prank. Eminem further won raves for his comedic performances, often playing himself, with cameos on the long-running comedy series "Entourage" (HBO, 2004-11) and the Judd Apatow-directed feature "Funny People" (2009).
In 2010, Eminem released his most ambitious album, Recovery, which featured some of the rapper's most introspective lyrics. Clean and sober after years of prescription drug abuse, he rapped about his ordeal with the album's first single, "Not Afraid." The album also featured collaborations with artists as diverse as Lil Wayne, Pink, and Rihanna. His duet with the latter, titled "Love The Way You Lie," dealt with domestic violence. The single resonated not only for Eminem, but also for his duet partner Rihanna, who had been the victim of a violent assault in 2009 by her then-boyfriend, R&B singer Chris Brown. "Love The Way You Lie" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 charts at No. 2 and quickly rose to the top. The accompanying music video, starring Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan as a battling couple, broke a YouTube record for receiving the most views in a 24-hour period in the summer of 2010. After a long, harrowing struggle, Eminem was truly back - a fact that was no more apparent than when he and fellow hip-hop artist Jay-Z sold out baseball stadiums in their respective hometowns of Detroit and New York City during their September "Home and Home" tour. Three years later, Eminem returned with his eighth studio album, a conceptual sequel to his 2000 breakthrough called The Marshall Mathers LP 2. The best-selling album featured another hit duet with Rihanna, "The Monster." In 2014, Eminem celebrated the 15-year anniversary of his label Shady Records with a two-disc compilation called Shade XV featuring all the artists who had recorded for the label.
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