Marshall Bruce Mathers III (born October 17, 1972 in St. Joseph, Missouri, U.S.), better known by his stage name Eminem, is an American rapper, record producer, and actor who was one of the most controversial and best-selling artists of the early 21st century.
Mathers’s youth was marred by poverty and claims of abuse. When unexcused absences held him in the ninth grade for a third year, he quit school in order to pursue a career in hip-hop music. Both as a solo artist and as a member of the Detroit-based rap group D12, he built a reputation for himself in the hip-hop underground as Eminem (also known as the Dirty Dozen). His 1996 debut album, Infinite, fared poorly, and he continued to pursue menial jobs.
Dr. Dre took notice of Eminem after he placed second in the freestyle category at the 1997 Rap Olympics in Los Angeles. Dr. Dre is a founding member of pioneering rap group N.W.A. and the CEO of Aftermath Entertainment. By that time, Eminem had developed the identity of the uninhibited Slim Shady, whose frequently filthy and violent songs expressed Eminem’s id. With Dr. Dre serving as his mentor and producer, Eminem released The Slim Shady LP in early 1999. The album sold several million copies, and Eminem won two Grammy Awards and four MTV Video Music Awards as a result of the innovative channel-surfing music video for the breakthrough single “My Name Is” and Dr. Dre’s instant credibility.
Many were offended by Eminem’s music, notably the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, who called him a homophobic misogynist. His turbulent marriage to Kim was documented in songs in which he rapped about murdering her. In 2000, Eminem was charged with assault for reportedly pistol-whipping a man he spotted kissing her; the pair separated in 2001, and their relationship remained tumultuous (in 2006 the couple remarried and divorced again). Additionally, his mother sued him for defaming her in songs and interviews.
In 2000, Eminem released The Marshall Mathers LP, which broke the record for the fastest-selling rap album in the United States. The album’s phenomenal popularity, which contained the controversial hit singles “The Real Slim Shady” and “Stan,” sparked further controversy. At the 2001 Grammy Awards, where The Marshall Mathers LP was nominated for best album of the year, Eminem performed a duet with the openly gay musician Elton John to silence naysayers. He released the CD Devil’s Night with D12 and toured with the group later that year. Additionally, he founded his own record company, Shady Records. The D12 group, 50 Cent, and other rappers joined with the company and released albums.
The Eminem Show, released by Eminem in 2002, was nearly as popular as The Marshall Mathers LP. In the same year, he made his acting debut in 8 Mile, a semi-autobiographical film. Critically and commercially, the gritty film was a hit. The next year, he won an Academy Award for the film’s song, “Lose Yourself.” After reuniting with D12 for D12 World (2004), Eminem released Encore (2004) and Curtain Call: The Hits (2005), both of which sold well but failed to get the same level of attention as his earlier albums. He subsequently withdrew from public view, reappearing briefly in 2006 to eulogise D12 member and friend Proof, who was murdered outside a Detroit nightclub. Two years later, Eminem published The Way I Am, a memoir containing photographs, drawings, and songs.
Relapse (2009) was the first album of new material by Eminem in five years. Despite having good production from Dr. Dre, the album received average reviews because of its over-the-top attempts to shock and its outmoded collection of pop culture references. In spite of this, “Crack a Bottle” became Eminem’s second song to top the Billboard singles list (after “Lose Yourself”), and he won Grammy Awards for both the song and the album. Recovery (2010) was a response to the criticism levied against Relapse (2008). The soul-baring singles “Not Afraid” and “Love the Way You Lie” (with the singer Rihanna) from Eminem’s album Recovery proved that he remained a formidable commercial force, despite no longer being at the forefront of hip-hop. On “The Monster ” from The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013), Eminem reunited with Rihanna, and the album became his sixth to win the Grammy Award for best rap album.
Revival (2017) by Eminem garnered mixed reviews, and Kamikaze (2018) was considered by numerous critics as having a somewhat sour disposition. However, such criticism had little effect on sales, and in 2020, Music to Be Murdered By became his tenth straight album to debut atop the Billboard 200 list. Moreover, Eminem occasionally teamed with rapper Royce da 5’9″ under the moniker Bad Meets Evil; among their releases was the EP Hell: The Sequel (2011). In 2022, Eminem performed in the Super Bowl halftime show alongside other hip-hop artists, including Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, and Snoop Dogg. He was selected for entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later that year.