Eminem, 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. He is noted for his ability to change his own verbal pace 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 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, a single child to a father who left his mom and him, 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, 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. 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 rap artist and producer 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 body of his wife. 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?” . 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” to Fred Durst and Carson Daly. 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” , 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, released in 2000, 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, renamed Purple Hills for radio play. Another song, Blow My Buzz, was on the soundtrack for the film The Wash, 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 19, 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” leaked onto the Internet. The lyrics in question: Fuck money/ 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, who parodied the Eminem song Lose Yourself on a track entitled Couch Potato on his 2003 album Poodle Hat, 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 “fuck Bush” and “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 only a week after Ashlee Simpson was caught lip-synching her performance on the program. None of the publicity helped the album however, which saw its sales stall at 4 million copies. Good for other artists, but off dramatically from his past two hits.
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. In August 2005, Eminem canceled the European leg of the tour and subsequently announced that he had entered drug rehabilitation for treatment for a “dependency on sleep medication”..
At the same time as he was entering rehab, his aunt and uncle, Jack and Betty Schmitt, sued Mathers, charging that he had reneged on a promise to build a $350,000 house for them and supply them with money for the house’s upkeep. The couple claimed that Mathers had kept the house in his name, and then issued them eviction orders.
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; it was not performed at the ceremony, reportedly because ABC wanted him to perform an edited version. 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 whose 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.