Marshall Bruce Mathers III was born on October 17, 1972, in St. Joseph, Missouri. His stage name is Eminem (both of his initials put together) and has established himself as one of the most talented, but also one of the most controversial, rappers of this era. Mathers is both a Grammy and Oscar award-winner.
Mathers was raised in Warren, Michigan, and his early years in that city inspired his film, titled 8 Mile. The majority of his childhood was spent moving back and forth between St. Joseph, Missouri and Detroit, Michigan. His father deserted the family when Mathers was 15 months old, which did not help his family’s financial situation. Thus, Mathers and his family were forced to move constantly from home to home and community to community, which conceivably left him finding himself to be an outcast in new neighborhoods and schools.
Mathers had a shaky relationship with his mother, Debbie Mathers. In multiple interviews, he has stated that his mother abused drugs, in addition to accusing her of having Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a disorder in which the sufferer feigns or exaggerates symptoms of illnesses to gain attention, treatment, or sympathy. Though he did not have very affectionate feelings for his mother, he was especially close to his uncle, Ronald Dean “Ronnie” Polkingharn, who would become Mathers’s best friend. It was Polkingharn, who first introduced Mathers to hip hop. In 1991, Polkingharn committed suicide, which would leave Mathers devastated, so much so that he would abandon his musical aspirations for a year.
Upon failing ninth grade for his third time, Mathers would drop out of Lincoln High School at the age of 17, but not before meeting his future ex-wife Kimberly Ann “Kim” Scott and befriending the late rapper Proof, who would become his best friend. In 1995, Kim gave birth to Hailie Jade Scott, Mathers’ first and only child. Hailie is mentioned in several of Mathers’ hit singles, including “Hailie’s Song,” “Mockingbird,” and “When I’m Gone”.
Mathers, began performing at the young age of 13 and would make a name for himself as a young adult in the hip-hop underground, thanks in part to his unique style, lyrical content, as well as being white in a predominantly black genre. With his underground status gaining momentum thanks to countless rap battles and the release of his first independent album, Infinite, Mathers would eventually be discovered by rapper-producer Dr. Dre. With Dr. Dre in his corner as producer, Mathers would release his debut studio album, The Slim Shady LP, in 1999. At the end of the year, the album reached triple platinum status, thanks to hit singles such as, “My Name Is,” “97 Bonnie and Clyde,” and “Guilty Conscience.” Mathers’ album would also win Best Rap Album at the 2000 Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Solo Performance for “My Name Is”.
Mathers would follow up his successful debut, with The Marshall Mathers LP, which would go on to become an even bigger success debuting at the top of U.S. and U.K. album charts and achieving Diamond status (10 million copies sold) in the U.S. and selling 21 million worldwide. The album, which includes hit singles, “The Real Slim Shady,” “The Way I Am”, and “Stan,” would also win Best Rap Album, in addition to Best Rap Solo Performance for “The Real Slim Shady” honors at the 2001 Grammy Awards.
Mather’s next album, The Eminem Show, which includes hit singles, “Without Me,” “Cleanin’ Out My Closet,” and “Sing for the Moment,” also topped U.S. and U.K. music charts during its debut release in the summer of 2002, selling about 19 million copies worldwide. The album would be Mather’s second album to be nominated for the coveted Grammy Award, Album of the Year (the other album being The Marshall Mathers LP). While failing to win Album of the Year honors, Mathers would take home Best Rap Album for the third year in a row.
In November 2002, Mathers made his acting debut with the semi-autobiographical 8 Mile, which would open at the top of the box office its opening weekend and go on to gross over $215,300,000 worldwide and another $130,000,000 in US home video sales. Mathers would also release a soundtrack for the film, 8 Mile Soundtrack, which would also debut at the top of U.S. and U.K. album charts. The album’s lead single, “Lose Yourself” would become an instant hit, winning Best Rap Song at the Grammy Awards, as well as an Oscar for Best Song at the 2002 Academy Awards.
In 2004, Mathers would release Encore, an album that would debut at #1 in both the U.S. and U.K. markets and eventually sell over 11 million copies worldwide. The album has produced hit singles including “Just Lose It,” “Like Toy Soldiers,” and “Mosh.” One year later, Mathers would release a greatest hits collection, Curtain Call: The Hits, which would also debut at the top of music charts in both the U.S. and U.K. The album, which also includes new hit singles, “Shake That” and “When I’m Gone,” to date has sold over 6 million units worldwide.
Till this day, Mathers is revered for his unique ability to change his rap pace and style multiple times within a song, while keeping pace with the beat. Furthermore, his ability to write creative lyrics has earned him much praise from both his fans and music critics alike. However, not everyone appreciates his lyrical content. Some critics like GLAAD have denounced many of his lyrics as being homophobic, misogynistic, and too violent. Despite the public outcries, Mathers has won several Grammy awards, an Oscar, and is revered as one of the top rappers in the industry. He has announced that he is taking a break from his solo career, but not retiring. Mathers continues to produce and collaborate with Shady/Aftermath and G-Unit artists.