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Eminem is an American rapper, record producer, and actor, who is known as one of the most controversial and best-selling artists of the early 21st century.
Eminem - Interscope Records (2:37)
Eminem - Slim Shady (2:31)
Eminem - Getting Into Rap (2:42)
Eminem - Childhood (2:29)
In 1997 at the Rap Olympics a mysterious fan approached Eminem and asked for his demo tape. This fan turned out to be an intern at Interscope records who would later get the tape into the hands of legendary rapper Dr. Dre.
Despite becoming a fixture in the Detroit music scene, Eminem’s recording career was off to a slow start. From this challenge the hip-hop alter ego Slim Shady was born.
After facing a rough childhood, teenager Marshall Mathers found a voice in the world of rap and hip-hop. Here he would also find his first real friend, a fellow rapper named Proof.
As a child, rapper Eminem faced a troubled family life and a transient one as he and his mother, Debbie Nelson, moved from place to place across the Midwest.
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Eminem proved highly skilled at such verbal sparring and, despite his race, quickly became one of the most respected figures in Detroit's underground rap scene. He recalled, "I finally found something that yeah, this kid over here, you know, he may have more chicks, and he may, you know, have better clothes, or whatever, but he can't do this like me. You know what I mean? He can't write what I'm writing right now. And it started to feel like, you know,
maybe Marshall's gettin' a little respect." Mathers assumed the stage name M&M, a playful reference to his initials, which he later began writing phonetically as "Eminem." This period in Eminem's life—working odd jobs to make ends meet while participating in rap battles and desperately attempting to land a record contract—was later dramatized in Eminem's semi-autobiographical film, 8 Mile.
It was also during this period of his life that Eminem began dating Kim Ann Scott, an old friend from high school, and in 1995 the couple had a daughter named Hailie Jade Scott. Inspired by the birth of his daughter to make a living as a rapper, in 1996 Eminem released his first independent rap album, Infinite. Although the album displayed flashes of his verbal prowess, biting wit and flair for storytelling, the low-budget record failed to turn a profit or attract more than local attention.
A year later, however, Eminem released The Slim Shady LP Demo, which was discovered by Dr. Dre, the legendary rapper and former producer of Eminem's favorite rap group N.W.A. Dr. Dre traveled to Detroit to see Eminem compete in a rap battle and was so impressed that he signed Eminem to his Interscope Records label on the spot. In 1999, after two years working with Dr. Dre, Eminem released The Slim Shady LP. The heavily hyped record became an instant success and went on to sell over three million copies. Eminem's first single, "My Name Is," mixed a childish humor and energy with rampant profanity and flashes of violence—a potent and fascinating combination that felt different from anything else in rap. Marshall and Kim Mathers married later that same year.
Eminem released his second studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP, in May 2000. The album showed off Eminem's poetic talents as well as his emotional and artistic range. His songs vary from manically funny ("The Real Slim Shady") to heartbreakingly poignant ("Stan") to explosively violent ("Kim") to disarmingly self-critical ("The Way I Am"). The Marshall Mathers LP sold over 19 million copies worldwide, won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, received a nomination for Album of the Year and is widely considered among the greatest rap albums of all time.
Nevertheless, The Marshall Mathers LP also came under a firestorm of criticism for its excessive profanity, glorification of drugs and violence and its apparent homophobia and misogyny. While Eminem attempted to mitigate such criticism by maintaining that his raps simply use the rough language he has been surrounded by since childhood, and later by performing a duet with Elton John at the Grammy Awards to demonstrate his openness to the gay community, Eminem nevertheless remains widely reviled in some quarters for his offensive lyrical content.
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