Eminem is the stage name of the white American rapper Marshall
Bruce Mathers III. He has gained a reputation for being out-spoken
and has created a lot of controversy with both the lyrics of his
albums and his own personal comments to the media.
is perhaps best known for being one of the few successful white
rappers in the industry, not to mention one of the most critically
acclaimed. He is also infamous for the controversy surrounding
many of his lyrics, which are said by critics to be homophobic,
misogynistic and excessively violent.
Life and Career of Eminem
Mathers was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri and spent most of
his childhood moving back and forth between Saint Joseph and
in rap from a young age, Mathers began performing as early as
fourteen, later gaining some popularity with a group, Soul Intent.
His wife Kim gave birth to his daughter, Hailie Jade, on 25
December 1995. In the same year, 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 (a rarity in all rap, especially mainstream gangsta rap).
Some people called him rap's "great white hope".
is said that 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, once Eminem won second
place vs. Otherwize at the 1997 Rap Olympics MC battle, Dr.
Dre agreed to sign him.
Eminem getting Famous
Once he joined Interscope, Eminem released The Slim Shady LP,
which went on to be one of the most popular records of the year,
going triple platinum. 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 bodies of his wife, her
lover and his son. Another song, "Guilty Conscience"
ends with Eminem and Dr. Dre encouraging a man to murder his
wife and her lover.
Marshall Mathers LP was released in May 2000, quickly selling
2 million copies. The album's first single, "The Real Slim
Shady", 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"
(oral sex) to Fred Durst (of Limp Bizkit) and Carson Daly (of
MTV's Total Request Live). In the third single, "Stan"
(which samples Dido's "Thank You"), Eminem attempts
to deal with his new fame status, telling the story of a fan
so obsessed with him that he winds up killing himself and his
pregnant girlfriend, mirroring one of the songs on The Slim
Controversies of the Rapper Eminem
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 the British
gay singer Elton John, ending the performance by hugging
John to show that he didn't have anything against homosexuals.
Though shocking a lot of people, this gesture failed to appease
all of his critics.
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". Another song, "Blow My Buzz", was on
the soundtrack for the film The Wash (2001), in which Eminem
had a cameo.
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, Moby, and Lynne Cheney, among others.
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.
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 D12 as Eminem's band, giving
little to 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.
October 12, 2004, a week after the release of "Just Lose
It," Eminem's first video and single off Encore, African
American pop singer 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."
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.
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 "**ck 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. On October
31, Eminem performed the song on Saturday Night Live, but some
thought that he appeared to be lip-synching it.
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. 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 originally set his release date for his latest album,
Encore, to be November 16, 2004. However, the leakage of the
album to the Internet forced him to put forward his release
date to November 12, 2004 (in a similar fashion to the release
of his last studio album, The Eminem Show, in 2002). As the
charts in the UK only start on Mondays, and that November 12
was a Friday, this meant he had only three days to compete for
the #1 position that week. However, with the huge anticipation
and pre-order sales for the album, this still allowed him to
reach the top spot there, beating albums from top-selling artists
Spears and Westlife. He also didn't have a full chart week
for the debut of the album in the US, but he was still able
to get to #1 and beat a greatest hits compilation by Shania
Twain, which did have a full chart week. He also topped the
Australia albums chart.