Photo: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/) by nicolee123nd (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nicolee123nd/)
Born: October 17, 1972
Age: 47 years
Born Place: Saint Joseph, Missouri, United States
- record producer
- record executive
- film producer
Spouse(s): Kimberly Anne Scott (m. 1999; div. 2001) || (m. 2006; div. 2006)
Marshall Bruce Mathers III (born October 17, 1972), known professionally as Eminem , is an American rapper, songwriter, and record producer. Credited with popularizing hip hop in Middle America, Eminem’s global success and acclaimed works are widely regarded as having broken racial barriers for the acceptance of white rappers in popular music. While much of his transgressive work during the early 2000s made him hugely controversial, he came to be a representation of popular angst and the American underclass. He has been influential for many artists of various genres and is often cited as one of the greatest rappers of all time.
After his debut album Infinite (1996) and the extended play Slim Shady EP (1997), Eminem signed with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment and subsequently achieved mainstream popularity in 1999 with The Slim Shady LP. His next two releases The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) and The Eminem Show (2002) were worldwide successes and were both nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. After the release of what was considered to be his final album, Encore (2004), Eminem went on hiatus in 2005 partly due to a prescription drug addiction. He returned to the music industry four years later with the release of Relapse (2009), and Recovery was released the following year. Recovery was the best-selling album worldwide of 2010, making it Eminem’s second album, after The Eminem Show in 2002, to be the best-selling album of the year worldwide. In the following years, he released the US number one albums The Marshall Mathers LP 2, Revival, Kamikaze and Music to Be Murdered By.
Eminem made his debut in the motion picture industry with the musical drama film 8 Mile (2002), playing a fictionalized version of himself, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Lose Yourself”, making him the first hip hop artist to ever win the award. He has made cameo appearances in the films The Wash (2001), Funny People (2009), and The Interview (2014), and the television series Entourage (2010). Eminem has developed other ventures, including Shady Records, with manager Paul Rosenberg, which helped launch the careers of artists such as 50 Cent, Yelawolf and Obie Trice, among others. He has also established his own channel, Shade 45, on Sirius XM Radio. In addition to his solo career, Eminem was a member of the hip hop group D12. He is also known for collaborations with fellow Detroit-based rapper Royce da 5’9″; the two are collectively known as Bad Meets Evil.
Eminem is among the best-selling music artists of all time, with estimated worldwide sales of more than 220 million records. He was the best-selling music artist in the United States of the 2000s and the best-selling male music artist in the United States of the 2010s. Billboard named him the “Artist of the Decade (2000–2009)”. The Marshall Mathers LP, The Eminem Show, “Lose Yourself”, “Love the Way You Lie” and “Not Afraid” have all been certified Diamond or higher by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Rolling Stone included him in its lists of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. He has won numerous awards, including 15 Grammy Awards, eight American Music Awards, 17 Billboard Music Awards, an Academy Award and a MTV Europe Music Global Icon Award. He has had ten number one albums on the Billboard 200, which all consecutively debuted at number one on the chart making him the only artist to achieve this, and five number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100.
Marshall Bruce Mathers III was born on October 17, 1972 in St. Joseph, Missouri, the only child of Marshall Bruce Mathers Jr. and Deborah Rae “Debbie” (née Nelson). He is of English, Scottish, German, German Swiss, Polish and Luxembourgian ancestry. His mother nearly died during her 73-hour labor with him. Eminem’s parents were in a band called Daddy Warbucks, playing in Ramada Inns along the Dakotas–Montana border before their separation. Eminem’s father, referred to by his middle name Bruce, left the family, moving to California and having two other children: Michael and Sarah. Debbie later had a son named Nathan “Nate” Kane Samara. During his childhood, Eminem and Debbie shuttled between Michigan and Missouri, rarely staying in one house for more than a year or two and living primarily with family members. In Missouri, they lived in several places, including St. Joseph, Savannah, and Kansas City.
As a teenager, Eminem wrote letters to his father, which Debbie stated all came back marked “return to sender”. Friends and family remember Eminem as a happy child, but “a bit of a loner” who was often bullied. One bully, D’Angelo Bailey, severely injured Eminem’s head in an assault; Debbie filed a lawsuit against the school in 1982, which was dismissed the following year because the Macomb County, Michigan judge said the schools were immune from lawsuits. Eminem spent much of his youth in a working-class, primarily black, Detroit neighborhood. He and Debbie were one of three white households on their block, and Eminem was beaten by black youths several times. As a child he was interested in storytelling, aspiring to be a comic-book artist before discovering hip hop. Eminem heard his first rap song (“Reckless”, featuring Ice-T) on the Breakin’ soundtrack, a gift from Debbie’s half-brother Ronnie Polkingharn, who was close to him and later became a musical mentor to him. When Polkingharn committed suicide in 1991, Eminem stopped speaking for days and did not attend his funeral.
Eminem’s home life was seldom stable; he frequently fought with his mother, whom a social worker described as having a “very suspicious, almost paranoid personality”. When her son became famous, Debbie was unimpressed by suggestions that she was a less-than-ideal mother, contending that she sheltered him and was responsible for his success. In 1987, Debbie allowed runaway Kimberly Anne “Kim” Scott to stay at their home; several years later, Eminem began an on-and-off relationship with Scott. After spending three years in ninth grade due to truancy and poor grades, he dropped out of Lincoln High School at age 17. Although he was interested in English, he never explored literature (preferring comic books) and disliked math and social studies. Eminem worked at several jobs to help his mother pay the bills, later maintaining that she often threw him out of the house anyway, often after taking most of his paycheck. When she left to play bingo, he would blast the stereo and write songs.
At age 14, Eminem began rapping with high-school friend Mike Ruby; they adopted the names “Manix” and “M&M”, the latter of which stood for his initials and evolved into “Eminem”. Eminem sneaked into neighboring Osborn High School with friend and fellow rapper Proof for lunchroom freestyle rap battles. On Saturdays, they attended open mic contests at the Hip-Hop Shop on West 7 Mile, considered “ground zero” for the Detroit rap scene. Struggling to succeed in a predominantly black industry, Eminem was appreciated by underground hip hop audiences. When he wrote verses, he wanted most of the words to rhyme; he wrote long words or phrases on paper and, underneath, worked on rhymes for each syllable. Although the words often made little sense, the drill helped Eminem practice sounds and rhymes.
Eminem has been scrutinized, as a rapper and personally. He was married twice to Kimberly Anne “Kim” Scott. He met Kim in high school while he stood on a table with his shirt off rapping LL Cool J’s “I’m Bad”. Kim and her twin sister Dawn had run away from home; they moved in with Eminem and his mother when he was 15, and he began an on-and-off relationship with Kim in 1989. Their daughter Hailie was born on December 25, 1995. The two were married in 1999 and divorced in 2001. Although Eminem told Rolling Stone in 2002, “I would rather have a baby through my penis than get married again”, he and Kim briefly remarried in January 2006. He filed for divorce in early April, agreeing to joint custody of Hailie. He also has custody of Dawn’s daughter Alaina and Whitney, Kim’s daughter from another relationship. In early 2010, Eminem denied tabloid reports that he and Kim had renewed their romantic relationship; however, in the same statement his representative also confirmed that they now maintain a friendly relationship. He had legal custody of his younger half-brother Nathan. In his 2014 song “Headlights”, Eminem apologized to, and reiterated his love for his mother.
Legal issues and controversies
In 1999, Eminem’s mother sued him for $10 million claiming he was slandering her on The Slim Shady LP. Litigation concluded in 2001 resulting in an award of $1,600 for her damages. On June 3, 2000, Eminem was arrested during an altercation with Douglas Dail at a car-audio store in Royal Oak, Michigan, when he pulled out an unloaded gun and pointed it at the ground. The next day, in Warren, Michigan, he was arrested again for assaulting John Guerra in the parking lot of the Hot Rock Café when he saw him kissing his wife. Eminem recreated the Guerra assault in “The Kiss (Skit)” on The Eminem Show. He pleaded guilty to possession of a concealed weapon and assault, and received two years’ probation; however, Guerra’s assault charge was dropped as part of the plea agreement. On July 7, 2000, Kim attempted suicide by slashing her wrists, and later sued Eminem for defamation after describing her violent death in “Kim”.
On October 26, 2000, Eminem was scheduled to perform at Toronto’s SkyDome when Ontario Attorney General Jim Flaherty said that Eminem should not be allowed to enter the country. “I personally don’t want anyone coming to Canada who will come here and advocate violence against women,” he said. Flaherty also said that he was “disgusted” when he read the lyrics of “Kill You”, which includes the lines “Slut, you think I won’t choke no whore / Till the vocal cords don’t work in her throat no more?” Although public reaction to Flaherty’s position was generally negative, with barring Eminem from the country considered a free-speech issue, Liberal MPP Michael Bryant suggested that hate crime charges be brought against Eminem for advocating violence against women in his lyrics. Robert Everett-Green wrote in a Globe and Mail editorial, “Being offensive is Eminem’s job description”. Eminem’s Toronto concert went on as planned.
Sanitation worker DeAngelo Bailey sued Eminem for $1 million in 2001, accusing him of invading his privacy by publicizing information placing him in a false light in “Brain Damage”, a song which portrays him as a violent school bully. Although Bailey admitted picking on Eminem in school, he said he merely “bumped” him and gave him a “little shove”. The lawsuit was dismissed on October 20, 2003; Judge Deborah Servitto, who wrote a portion of her opinion in rap-like rhyming verse, ruled that it was clear to the public that the lyrics were exaggerated.
On June 28, 2001, Eminem was sentenced to one year’s probation and community service and was fined about $2,000 on weapon charges stemming from an argument with an employee of Psychopathic Records.
On March 31, 2002, French jazz pianist Jacques Loussier filed a $10 million lawsuit against Eminem and Dr. Dre, claiming that the beat for “Kill You” was taken from his instrumental “Pulsion”. Loussier demanded that sales of The Marshall Mathers LP be halted, and any remaining copies destroyed. The case was later settled out of court.
On December 8, 2003, the United States Secret Service reported that it was “looking into” allegations that Eminem threatened U.S. President George W. Bush in “We As Americans” (an unreleased bootleg at the time), with the lyrics: “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 incident was included in the video for “Mosh”, as a newspaper clipping on a wall with articles about unfortunate incidents in Bush’s career. “We As Americans” eventually appeared on Encore’s deluxe-edition bonus disc, with altered lyrics.
In 2006, Eminem was accused of assaulting Miad Jarbou, a resident of Royal Oak, Michigan, in the bathroom of a Detroit strip club, but was never charged. Two years later in 2008, Jarbou sued Eminem for more than $25,000 in damages.
In 2007, Eminem’s music-publishing company (Eight Mile Style) and Martin Affiliated sued Apple Inc. and Aftermath Entertainment, claiming that Aftermath was not authorized to negotiate a deal with Apple for digital downloads of 93 Eminem songs on Apple’s iTunes. The case against Apple was settled shortly after the trial began, in late September 2009.
In July 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in F.B.T. Productions, LLC v. Aftermath Records that F.B.T. Productions and Eminem were owed a royalty of 50 percent of Aftermath’s net revenue from licensing his recordings to companies such as Apple, Sprint Corporation, Nextel Communications, Cingular and T-Mobile. In March 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the case.
In October 2013, Eminem sampled Chicago-based rap group Hotstylz’s 2008 viral hit, “Lookin’ Boy”, for his 2013 hit single, “Rap God”. The group claims that Eminem did not receive permission to use the sample, nor did he credit or compensate them. In November 2013, Hotstylz released a diss track towards Eminem titled “Rap Fraud”, where they sample several of his songs and criticize him for not crediting them. In January 2015, TMZ reported that Hotstylz was suing Eminem and his label, Shady Records, for $8 million, for using the 25 second sample of “Lookin’ Boy” on his song “Rap God”, without their permission.
In 2018–2019, the Secret Service interviewed Eminem again regarding threatening lyrics towards President Donald Trump and daughter Ivanka.
Eminem has spoken publicly about his addiction to prescription drugs, including Vicodin, Ambien and Valium. According to friend and fellow D12 member Proof, Eminem first straightened out in 2002. During the production of 8 Mile, Eminem, working 16 hours a day, developed insomnia. An associate gave him an Ambien tablet which “knocked [him] out”, encouraging him to obtain a prescription. This was Eminem’s first experience of drug addiction, which would affect him for several years. Near the end of production on Encore, he would “just go into the studio and goof off [with] a pocketful of pills”. Eminem began taking the drugs to “feel normal”, taking a “ridiculous amount I could consume anywhere from 40 to 60 Valium [in a day]. Vicodin, maybe 30”. The drugs would put him to sleep for no more than two hours, after which he would take more. Eminem’s weight increased to 230 pounds (100 kg), and he was regularly eating fast food: “The kids behind the counter knew me – it wouldn’t even faze them. Or I’d sit up at Denny’s or Big Boy and just eat by myself. It was sad”. Eminem became less recognizable due to his weight gain, and once overheard two teenagers arguing about whether or not it was him: “Eminem ain’t fat.”
In December 2007, Eminem was hospitalized after a methadone overdose. He had first bought from a dealer who had told him it was “just like Vicodin, and easier on [your] liver”. He continued to buy more until he collapsed in his bathroom one night and was rushed to the hospital. Doctors there told him he had ingested the equivalent of four bags of heroin and was “about two hours from dying”. After missing Christmas with his children, Eminem checked himself out of the facility weak and not fully detoxed. He tore the meniscus in his knee after falling asleep on his sofa, requiring surgery; after he returned home, he had a seizure. His drug use “ramped right back to where it was before” within a month. Eminem began to attend church meetings to get clean, but after he was asked for autographs he sought help from a rehabilitation counselor. He began an exercise program which emphasized running. Elton John was a mentor during this period, calling Eminem once a week to check on him. He’s been sober since April 20, 2008.
In the book My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem, his mother stated that he has struggled with bipolar disorder throughout his life. She said it worsened after his ex-wife Kim Mathers gave birth to their daughter Hailie.
Allegations of homophobia
Some of Eminem’s lyrics have been considered homophobic, and an Australian politician attempted to ban him from the country. Eminem denies the charge, saying that when he was growing up words such as “faggot” and “queer” were used generally in a derogatory manner and not specifically toward homosexuals. During a 60 Minutes interview, journalist Anderson Cooper explored the issue:
Cooper: Some of the lyrics, like, you know, in the song “Criminal” you say “My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge, That’ll stab you in the head, whether you’re a fag or lez, Or the homosex, hermaph or a trans-a-vest, Pants or dress—hate fags? The answer’s ‘yes'”.
Eminem: Yeah, this scene I came up in. That word was thrown around so much, you know, “faggot” was like thrown around constantly to each other, like in battling.
Cooper: Do you not like gay people?
Eminem: No, I don’t have any problem with nobody. You know what I mean? I’m just like whatever.
When The New York Times asked him about the legalization of same-sex marriage in Michigan in 2010, Eminem replied: “I think if two people love each other, then what the hell? I think that everyone should have the chance to be equally miserable, if they want”, adding that his “overall look on things is a lot more mature than it used to be”.
Eminem was accused yet again of using homophobic words in his lyrics in “Rap God” (2013) and explained “I don’t know how to say this without saying it how I’ve said it a million times. But that word, those kind of words, when I came up battle-rappin’ or whatever, I never really equated those words…(to actually mean homosexual)”
- Infinite (1996)
- The Slim Shady LP (1999)
- The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
- The Eminem Show (2002)
- Encore (2004)
- Relapse (2009)
- Recovery (2010)
- The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013)
- Revival (2017)
- Kamikaze (2018)
- Music to Be Murdered By (2020)
- Devil’s Night (with D12) (2001)
- D12 World (with D12) (2004)
- Hell: The Sequel (with Bad Meets Evil) (2011)