Eminem has lived a life that most of us couldn’t dream of. From his troubled childhood to releasing multi-platinum albums and Grammy awards, Marshall Mathers has come a long way to reach the top of the industry. But, his fight to reach those levels wasn’t so easy.
To earn his achievements and everything else in his career, it all started in Detroit.
Mathers Had A Turbulent Childhood
Eminem was born Marshall Bruce Mathers III on October 17, 1972. He never knew his father, Marshall Mathers Jr., who abandoned the family when the Missouri-born artist was still an infant. As a result, he was raised by his mother, Deborah Mathers.
She never maintained a job for more than six months, moving between Missouri and Detroit.
The Itinerant Lifestyle Left A Large Impact On His Personality
Because he had no friends and kept almost entirely to himself, he was treated like an outcast at each new school. He would be critical of the way his mother raised him.
Through his song lyrics, he has publicly accused her of being addicted to prescription drugs and emotional and physical abuse.
Mathers Heard His First Rap Song From A Soundtrack From A Movie
As a child, he was interested in storytelling, and he aspired to be a comic book artist before discovering the world of hip-hop. Eventually, the rap song "Reckless" by Ice-T was the first rap song Mathers ever heard.
It came from the soundtrack to Breakin’, a gift from Debbie’s half-brother, Ronnie Polkinghorn.
At 14, He Began Rapping With High School Friend, Mike Ruby
At the time, the pair adopted the nicknames "Manix" and "M&M". Eventually, Mathers would sneak into Osborn High School with fellow rapper, Proof, for lunchroom freestyle rap battles. On weekends, the would attend open mic contests at the Hip-hop Shop on West 7 Mile.
Despite his race, he quickly became one of the most respected figures in the underground rap scene.
Debbie Filed A Lawsuit Against His School In 1982
One bully, De’Angelo Bailey, severely injured Mather’s head. When his mother sued the school, it was dismissed the following year due to the school being immune to lawsuits. Eventually, when the future rapper made it big, he made sure to open up about in one of his songs.
"Brain Damage" made Bailey the subject of the song.
As A High School Dropout, Mathers Found A Way To Express His Passion For Language
With a troublesome childhood, Mathers was looking for ways to release his youthful anger. Thanks to "Reckless" by Ice-T, the future Grammy winner identified himself with the nihilistic rage of the late-eighties and early-nineties rap music.
Eventually, he was blown away by N.W.A., as well as another popular rap group, the Beastie Boys.
He’s Been Married Twice To Kim Scott
The two met while in high school as Mathers stood on a table with his shirt off, rapping to LL Cool J’s "I’m Bad." Kim and her twin sister, Dawn, had run away from home, moving in with Eminem when he was 15.
From there on, he began an on-and-off again relationship with Kim in 1989.
Their Daughter Hailie Was Born On Christmas 1995
The two were married in 1999 and divorced in 2001. During their marriage, they welcomed their daughter on Christmas 1995. Despite remarrying again in 2006, they filed for divorce months afterward.
The pair agreed to joint custody, and he also has custody on Dawn’s daughter Alaina, as well as Whitney, Kim’s daughter from another relationship.
His First Run-In With The Law Came At 20 Years Old
The Detroit native was arrested for involvement in a drive-by shooting with a paintball gun. According to police, the paintballs didn’t break, at all. But, that still didn’t stop the authorities from placing a pair of handcuffs on him.
Eventually, the case was dismissed when the victim didn’t appear in court.
He Was Recruited By Several Rap Groups
As Eminem’s reputation grew, his first recruitment came from the New Jacks. After the group disbanded, he would join Soul Intent, releasing a single on their 1995 self-titled EP featuring Proof.
The pair would team up with four other rappers to form The Dirty Dozen, which would also be known as D12.
His Different Names Represent Different Personnas
In an interview with Spin Magazine, Marshall mentions that there are two differences between the rappers’ names. Slim Shady is the name for his temper or anger, while Eminem is the rapper and person. Slim Shady is nothing more than the attitude behind the man.
Marshall Mathers is who he is at the end of the day.
Eminem’s First Album Was A Commercial Failure
His first album only sold around 1,000 copies, and Infinite received mixed reviews from critics. However, the aspiring rapper was praised for his lyrical content. Sadly, it’s not available on any online music store.
What’s crazy is that Detroit radio stations refused to play his music, suggesting he “go into rock and roll”.
The Second Album Came With Much Bigger Improvements
Every artist grows, and that’s a fact. Fans get an introduction to his “Slim Shady” persona on the Slim Shady EP. This was considered to be a one-up from the debut album. This time, his lyrics didn’t reference drug use, sexual acts, and mental instability.
Instead, Eminem began to utilize more storytelling with the EP.
In 1997, Eminem Competed In The Rap Olympics
The rapper found himself in Los Angeles to compete for the nationwide rap battle competition. Despite having experience beforehand in these battles, Slim Shady placed second in the competition. He came all the way from Detroit to lose to battle rapper Otherwize.
However, Interscope Records brought back a copy of the Slim Shady EP to Dr. Dre.
Dr. Dre Ordered Jimmy Iovine To Find Eminem ASAP
After listening to the EP, the former N.W.A. member recalled “In my entire career in the music industry, I have never found anything from a demo tape or a CD. When Jimmy played this, I said, ‘Find him. Now.'”
He didn’t care what his protege looked like if he could kick it, Dre was willing to work with him.
The Slim Shady LP Reached New Heights
By the end of 1999, Eminem’s third album went triple platinum. This time, the album was met with both critical and commercial success. The first official single "My Name Is" peaked at number 36 on the Billboard chart.
Interscope Records would award their protege with his own record label, Shady Records.
He Was Making Payments On His Trailer Home When The Slim Shady LP Dropped
His first album Infinite achieved little commercial success. It was ignored by Detroit radio stations, and the rapper explicitly explains the problem in specific tracks. The disappointment turned into critical and commercial success with the Marshall Mathers LP.
His album made him a highly controversial figure due to his lyrical content.
The Marshall Mathers LP Came Under A Firestorm From Critics
It didn’t take long for people to be on the rapper for plenty of things. There was his excessive profanity, glorification of drugs and violence, and his apparent homophobia and misogyny. Simply, the rapper was using the language he’s surrounded himself with ever since his childhood.
To express openess to the gay community, he performed a duet with Elton John at the Grammy Awards.
The Bully From Mathers’ Childhood Sued Him
Remember De’Angelo Bailey? The one who caused all sorts of problems for young Marshall? Well, the former bully-turned janitor sued the rapper over the track “Brain Damage”. He claimed that the song damaged his reputation. I guess janitors are offended so easily.
But, the judge threw out the case. Poor Bailey.
Rehab, Relapse, And Recovery
Over the next several years, Eminem recorded very little music and was largely consumed by personal problems. Eminem slipped further into alcoholism and addiction to sleeping pills and prescription painkillers.
In 2007, the rapper overdosed and nearly died of that experience. He said “If I would have got to the hospital two hours later, that would have been it.”
By 2008, He Managed To Kick The Addictions
After a long battle, he released his first album of new music in five years. Relapse featured the single “Crack Bottle” and “Beautiful.”
A year later, the rapper came out with Recovery, an autobiographical attempt to come to terms with his struggles with addiction, as well as his experiences he endeavored while in rehab.
Recovery Struck A Gentler And More Inspirational Tone
Of the album, the rapper said, “I don’t want to go overboard with it but I do feel like that if I can help people that have been through a similar situation, then, you know, why not?”
The whole reveal turned out to be a surprise when he won a Grammy for Best Rap Album.
The Rapper Shocked Everyone By Reinventing Himself As A Mature Artist
The rapper admitted he had to learn how not to be angry about things. He also learned how to count his blessings instead.
Based on that experience, he said, “The music, I wouldn’t say it’s gotten happier, but it’s more upbeat. I feel like myself again.” It definitely sounds very different from the old Eminem.
He Was Offered The Lead Role For Elysium
The reason why he turned it down is because the movie refused to move production from Los Angeles to Detroit.
The role would go to Matt Damon, who was the third choice behind the rapper and Ninja from the South African band Die Antwoord. It’s pretty amazing Damon came in third behind those two.
He Doesn’t Know How To Use A Computer
He dropped out of high school before graduating, so it kind of adds up. Yeah, he went on to win Grammy’s and platinum albums, but not knowing how to use a computer? That’s rather interesting.
Considering our times are filled with more technology and apps, you would think the rapper would know what Twitter is.
He Was Investigated By The US Secret Service
The investigation was based on lyrics from his song “We As Americans”. The lyrics “F*** money / I don’t rap for dead presidents / I’d rather see the president dead / It’s never been said, but I set precedents” was enough damage to cause a stir.
The US Secret Service clearly has no appreciation for the nuances of rap.
The 2009 MTV Movie Awards Incident
During the 2009 MTV Movie Awards, Sacha Baron Cohen descended onto the audience in an angel costume and landed. With his buttocks out, he landed on Eminem’s head.
The rapper, stormed out of the ceremony, looking dissatisfied. He said that, after he left, he went back to his hotel room and “laughed uncontrollably for about three hours.”
In October 2017, He Made Headlines For A Freestyle Segment
Taped for the BET Hip Hop Awards, he used a freestyle to express his disdain for the 45th president of the United States. Two months later, Revival came out. The singles "Walk on Water" and "River," featured collaborations with pop superstars Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran.
But, the album seems divided by critics for failing to garner accolades from past albums.
His Beef With Machine Gun Kelly
In 2012, the rapper Tweeted about Eminem’s daughter and called her attractive. That didn’t sit well with the iconic rapper at all. In August 2018, Eminem released the surprise album Kamikaze. It featured numerous insults towards MGK, including the song “Not Alike”.
The rapper took it one step further, insulting MGK with the diss track “Kill Shot.”
As mentioned before, the diss track by the rapper is a response to MGK’s “Rap Devil.” Eminem explained that he did not know how to responded due to him not wanting to make the other rapper bigger.
Eventually, “Killshot” was released as a single, with over 185 million views on YouTube.