Eminem

Biography

HISTORY

Marshall Bruce Mathers III (born October 17, 1972) is an American rapper best known by the stage name Eminem. He is one of today's most popular and controversial rappers, and a Grammy and Oscar-winner. He is of mostly Scottish-American descent, and currently lives in Metro Detroit. Discovered by rapper/producer Dr. Dre, Eminem is known as one of the most skillful and controversial rappers in the industry, becoming a crossover sensation with his second single "My Name Is" while simultaneously earning respect from the hip-hop community for his lyrical talent. He is noted for his ability to change his own verbal pace (flow) and style multiple times within one song without losing the beat, and has been praised for his skill in alliteration and assonance. He is infamous for the controversy surrounding many of his lyrics. With the enormous success of his sophomore album The Marshall Mathers LP following its release in May 2000, and its subsequent nomination for four Grammy awards including Album of the Year, critics such as GLAAD denounced his lyrics as homophobic, while others complained that it was also extremely misogynistic and violent. However, he has received a great deal of praise within the hip-hop community for his lyrical ability. He is the second-highest selling rapper of all time, behind Tupac Shakur, though the latter has had several posthumous albums released.

While generally avoiding overtly political tones previously (or if they were mentioned it was in passing), in late 2004 before the presidential election, Eminem released the song "Mosh," which harshly criticizes President George W. Bush. Encore, Mathers' fourth major-label album, was released later that year, but was considered by many to be a disappointment in comparison to his previous three albums and only sold half as many albums as The Eminem Show had. His latest release is Curtain Call: The Hits, a compilation which covers many of his past hit songs, and includes three new tracks. Eminem has stated that Curtain Call may be his final solo album, but he continues to produce for and collaborate with Shady/Aftermath artists, his latest collaboration being with an up-and-coming Detroit rapper called Trick-Trick, in the song "Welcome 2 Detroit".

EARLY CHILDHOOD

Mathers was born in St. Joseph, Missouri (near Kansas City) to parents Deborah "Debbie" Mathers-Briggs and Marshall Bruce Mathers II, and spent most of his childhood moving back and forth between Kansas City, and Metro Detroit, including Warren. His father had abandoned the family before Marshall turned two years old, and the two have not had contact since, save some rejected attempts by Marshall's father to contact Marshall after his rise to fame. Constantly moving from home to home, he frequently changed schools, often finding himself to be an outcast in the new communities, and frequently fell victim to bullying. An assault by schoolmate DeAngelo Bailey that left Marshall hospitalized was the most notable such incident, which Marshall would later recount in greatly exaggerated form on the track "Brain Damage" (The Slim Shady LP, 1999). The song prompted legal action by the assailant with accusations of libel and privacy infringement, which were eventually dismissed in court.

His childhood was further marred by his family's meager financial status, which was the primary reason for their continuous moving, during which Marshall and his mother Debbie would often find themselves living in public housing, mobile homes, and under the care of relatives, such as Marshall's great-aunt Edna, whom he mentions in "Evil Deeds" (??Encore??). During this time, Debbie was legally taking the prescription drugs Vicodin and Valium, though Marshall later claimed in numerous interviews and songs that she was abusing the drugs,to which Debbie retaliated with a lawsuit pressing defamation charges (see below). In the song "Cleaning Out My Closet" (The Eminem Show, 2002), Mathers also accuses his mother of having Munchausen syndrome by proxy, adding that "my whole life I was made to believe I was sick when I wasn't... it makes you sick to your stomach, doesn't it?". This was not the first time someone had suggested Debbie had the disorder; a social worker had made similar comments following a 1996 investigation of her mistreatment of Nathan Samra-Mathers, her second child.

LIFE BEFORE FAME

Before dropping out of Lincoln High School Warren as a 9th grader at the age of 17 (after failing ninth grade three times), Marshall made a number of significant acquaintances at the school. This included fellow rapper Proof, who was to become one of his closest friends, the Runyon Avenue Soldiers, and future wife Kimberly Ann "Kim" Scott, with whom he soon developed a long-term relationship. When Kim became pregnant, this further increased Marshall's drive to succeed through concern over the welfare of his new family. He discusses this in "Never Far" (Infinite, 1996), saying "I got a baby on the way, I don't even got a car...I still stay with my moms...we gotta make some hit records or something [because] I'm tired of being broke..." When the Infinite album failed to generate the revenue and acclaim he had hoped for, and Kim ended their relationship, preventing him from seeing his newborn child, Marshall decided to take his own life. However, his suicide attempt using an overdose of Tylenol analgesics failed, and Marshall resumed his efforts to succeed in the music industry and reconcile with Kim. He ultimately succeeded in doing both, marrying Kim on June 14, 1999 in St. Joseph, Missouri.

The couple's daughter, Hailie Jade Scott, born December 25, 1995 would grow to become an important part of Marshall's life, as he became dedicated to giving her everything he himself was deprived of in his childhood, including a father figure and financial security. He would go on to mention her extensively in some of his songs, including "'97 Bonnie & Clyde" (The Slim Shady LP, 1999), which takes the form of a one-sided dialogue with Hailie, as well as "Hailie's Song" (The Eminem Show, 2002), "Mockingbird" (??Encore??, 2004), and "When I'm Gone" (Curtain Call: The Hits, 2005), all of which are proclamations of his love and dedication to her. In addition, he samples her voice in the less serious upbeat track "My Dad's Gone Crazy" (The Eminem Show, 2002).

EARLY CAREER

Interested in rap from a young age, Mathers began performing as early as thirteen, later gaining some popularity with a group, Soul Intent. In 1996, he released his first independent album, named Infinite (of which he sold about 500 copies out of the back of his car.) The album received no airplay and a mixed critical response, with people claiming Eminem's rapping style sounded too similar to Nas and AZ. Drawing on the negative experiences of his life, in 1997 Eminem followed Infinite up with The Slim Shady EP demo, which saw his lyrics take a decidedly darker turn, in songs like "No One's Iller" and "Murder Murder," the latter in which he talks about having to commit crimes to feed his daughter. He became famous in the hip-hop underground because of his distinctive, cartoonish style and the fact that he was white in a predominantly black genre. Fellow rapper Snoop Dogg referred to him as rap's "great white American hope" in the song "Bitch Please II".

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 versus MC Juice at the 1997 Rap Olympics freestyle battle (although confusingly the rapper Otherwize is credited with this victory on some websites). 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.

MAINSTREAM

At Interscope, Eminem released The Slim Shady LP, which went on to be one of the most popular albums 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 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 huge hit? thanks in part to the catchy rhythm and chorus line, "So 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 making dubious claims about them. In the song, Eminem implies, 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 reveals to his fans the pressures from his record company to top "My Name Is" and sell more records, and dismisses the alleged controversial link between music such as that of Marilyn Manson and shootings such as at Columbine High School as absurd, instead blaming the parents. 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. It is now considered to be one of the classics of the genre.

Eminem has achieved six UK #1 singles beating any other rapper ever and has also had the most #1 singles in the UK in the 21st century by an American artist.

CONTROVERSY

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 Award 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. Mathers responded to this by singing "Stan" on-stage with openly gay 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 many of his critics. In later interviews, he said he did not know Elton John was gay, but that he respected him: "Of course I'd heard of Elton John," Eminem said, "but I didn't know he was gay. I didn't know anything about his personal life. I didn't really care, but being that he was gay and he had my back, I think it made a statement in itself saying that he understood where I was coming from."

The two songs most often cited as examples in The Marshall Mathers LP of Eminem's misogyny were "Kill You" and "Kim." Critics claimed the former portrayed extremely violent abuse against women in general and contained a line about Eminem raping his own mother. The latter is not so much a song as it is a reenactment of a fictional fight between Eminem and his wife, although he does rhyme his shouted, hoarse lines. Despite his conflicting expressions of love and hate throughout the track, Eminem ends up slitting Kim's throat at the end (accompanied by cries of "Bleed, bitch, bleed!"); several people objected to the graphic description of spousal abuse. On the clean version of the CD, the track was removed and replaced with a song almost entirely devoid of profanity called "The Kids."

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 for 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 (2001), in which Eminem had a cameo appearance.

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. The album reflected on the impact of his rise to fame, his relationship with his wife Kim and his daughter Hailie, and his status in the hip-hop community. He also addresses the charges he faced over assaulting a bouncer he saw kissing his wife in 2000. While there is clear anger present on several tracks, this album was considerably less inflammatory than the previous, and as such did not face any protests of misogyny and homophobia that had plagued The Marshall Mathers LP.

On November 19, 2003, new controversy surrounded Eminem when a cassette tape was played during a press conference held by The Source magazine. The cassette featured Mathers performing a freestyle rap in which he made disparaging remarks about black women, calling them "dumb chicks" in comparison to white women and claimed they are only after money. Other racial slurs and remarks were on the tape, including the use of the word "nigger". Mathers claimed he made the recording after breaking up with his black girlfriend in 1988; however The Source claimed the tapes were recorded in 1994, and old friends of Eminem's claimed he never had a black girlfriend. Eminem later filed a lawsuit against The Source for alleged copyright infringement. He also publicly apologized for the tape.

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...". The song was being recorded to possibly be on Encore, but wound up on a bonus CD accompanying the album Encore. The second use of the word "dead" was edited out of that version.

Then, in 2004, Eminem made the music video "My Band" with D12. The song was the band's sarcastic response to the media's frequent portrayal of D12 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.

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. The album reflected on the impact of his rise to fame, his relationship with his wife Kim and his daughter Hailie, and his status in the hip-hop community. He also addresses the charges he faced over assaulting a bouncer he saw kissing his wife in 2000. While there is clear anger present on several tracks, this album was considerably less inflammatory than the previous, and as such did not face any protests of misogyny and homophobia that had plagued The Marshall Mathers LP.

On November 19, 2003, new controversy surrounded Eminem when a cassette tape was played during a press conference held by The Source magazine. The cassette featured Mathers performing a freestyle rap in which he made disparaging remarks about black women, calling them "dumb chicks" in comparison to white women and claimed they are only after money. Other racial slurs and remarks were on the tape, including the use of the word "nigger". Mathers claimed he made the recording after breaking up with his black girlfriend in 1988; however The Source claimed the tapes were recorded in 1994, and old friends of Eminem's claimed he never had a black girlfriend. Eminem later filed a lawsuit against The Source for alleged copyright infringement. He also publicly apologized for the tape.

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...". The song was being recorded to possibly be on Encore, but wound up on a bonus CD accompanying the album Encore. The second use of the word "dead" was edited out of that version.

Then, in 2004, Eminem made the music video "My Band" with D12. The song was the band's sarcastic response to the media's frequent portrayal of D12 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, plastic surgeries, and an incident in which Jackson's hair caught on fire while filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984. The lyrics to "Just Lose It" also refer to Jackson's legal troubles. Many of Jackson's supporters and friends spoke out about the video, including Stevie Wonder who called the video "kicking a man while he's down" and "bullshit",and Steve Harvey who declared, "Eminem has lost his ghetto pass. We want the pass back".In the video, Eminem also parodied Pee Wee Herman, MC Hammer, and a Blonde-Ambition-touring Madonna.

BET was the first channel to stop airing the video. MTV, however, announced it would continue airing the video, and "Just Lose It" became the #1 requested video on TRL for the week ending October 22. The Source magazine, through its CEO Raymond "Benzino" Scott, wanted not only the video to be pulled, but the song off the album, and a public apology to Jackson from Eminem, though this was likely due to his personal hatred of Eminem rather than any genuine concern for Michael.

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 titled "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 protesters 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-syncing the chorus, only a week after Ashlee Simpson was caught lip-syncing her performance on the program. His management observed that he was merely rapping over a backing track so as not to lose the beat, and in any case, since the Simpson incident had occurred only the week previously, Eminem made a point of lowering the microphone whenever the backing vocals were heard while he wasn't rapping. None of the publicity helped the album however, which saw its sales stall at 4.7 million copies, a number dramatically lower than his past two albums.

In summer 2005, Mathers embarked on his first US concert run in three years, the Anger Management 3 Tour, featuring Lil' Jon, 50 Cent and G-Unit, D12, 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.

Eminem has made many enemies in the music industry, including Ja Rule, Benzino, Everlast, the Insane Clown Posse (although recently, at an ICP concert, they sat down with Proof of D12 and talked out their differences, officially "squashing the beef with D12"), Canibus, Vanilla Ice, Fred Durst and others.

RETIRING SLIM SHADY

In 2005, some industry insiders speculated that Eminem is considering concluding his rapping career after six years and numerous multi-platinum albums. Speculation began in early 2005 about a double-disc album to be released late that year, rumored to be titled The Funeral. The album manifested itself under the name Curtain Call, and was released on December 6, 2005.

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 Records and Aftermath artists projects as well as Dr. Dre's planned Detox album.


Album cover of Curtain Call: The Hits (2005).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. However, as he entered rehab in 2005 for dependency on sleep medication, many are speculating that he will use this event to lay down his microphone. The star is continuing to work out of the spotlight, including producing the Redman album Red Gone Wild. One track to be released on that album which has a gained attention is "I C Dead People", which will feature raps from three deceased artists: Big Pun, Big L and the Notorious B.I.G.

At "Anger Management" in Madison Square Garden and Atlanta's HiFi Buys Amphitheater he openly announced that he is not retiring and indicates this is all just gossip by saying the moon exploding is a more credible rumor. However, many still speculate that he will be retiring and the announcement at Madison Square Garden was only a ploy to distract the fans.

Adding to the already feverish rumors from fans, Eminem released a track on Curtain Call entitled "When I'm Gone." The lyrics feature the topic of Slim Shady's destructive power over Marshall Mathers' life, and talks of laying Slim Shady to rest, one line featuring the lyrics "Find a gun on the ground / cock it, put it to my brain / scream 'Die Shady!' and pop it." Whether or not this is an unsubtle hint at retirement is currently up for speculation. The lyrics also show feelings of guilt, Eminem feeling he should've spent more time with his daughter Hailie; "'Daddy, where's Mommy? I can't find Mommy, where is she?' 'I don't know, go play, Hailie, baby, your daddy's busy.'"

On December 6, 2005, the day of Curtain Call's release, Eminem told suburban Detroit radio station WKQI-FM's "Mojo in the Morning" show that he and Kim had reconciled and were probably going to remarry. He denied that he was retiring, but implied that he would at least be taking a break as an artist, saying, "I'm at a point in my life right now where I feel like I don't know where my career is going ... This is the reason that we called it 'Curtain Call,' because this could be the final thing. We don't know."

ALBUMS AND EP'S:

1996 - Infinite
1997 - The Slim Shady EP
1999 - The Slim Shady LP
2000 - The Marshall Mathers LP
2002 - The Eminem Show
2002 - 8 Mile Soundtrack
2004 - Encore
2005 - Curtain Call: The Hits

MOVIES:

2000 - Da Hip-Hop Witch
2001 - The Wash
2002 - 8 Mile

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OptimusPrime

Submitted by OptimusPrime at Mon 22 May, 2006 7:39 am

OptimusPrime

Last updated by OptimusPrime at Mon 22 May, 2006 7:39 am

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