Marshall Bruce Mathers III (born October 17, 1972)—otherwise known as Eminem—is a legendary hip-hop icon who started as an underground battle rapper in Detroit, Michigan. He developed a career full of controversy, wild swings, and some of the most noteworthy bars in the history of the genre.
Eminem has broken countless barriers, shifting and impacting the culture in several ways. In June 2017, “Stan” was added to the Oxford Dictionary, and in 2019, to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. He was the first rapper to win the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album for three consecutive albums. “Rap God” set the Guinness World Record for most words in a song. He was also the first rapper to win an Oscar. His albums The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show became certified Diamond by the RIAA in 2011, making him one of the few artists to have more than one Diamond album. This has helped him become the highest-selling hip-hop artist of all time. In January 2020, with his 11th studio album Music to Be Murdered By debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200, Eminem became the first artist in history to have 10 consecutive #1 debuts.
Marshall’s affinity for recording music began as early as 1988 when at 17-years old he joined forces with DJ Butter Fingers to form the group New Jacks. Their tracks together showcased Marshall’s (known then as MC Double M) quick-paced storytelling over hip-hop samples cut by DJ Butter.
Only a year later, Em and Butter disbanded New Jacks to form Bassmint Productions, a larger group which included the likes of rapper Chaos Kid as well as producer and brother of Butter, Manix. Deshaun “Proof” Holtman (known then as Maximum) joined in 1990 upon meeting the group at Centerline high school in Detroit. Bassmint then evolved to Soul Intent recording their EP Still In The Bassmint as well as pressing 300 cassette-singles of “F#@!in' Backstabber” and “Biterphobia”.
Upon signing to the Bass Brothers label Web Entertainment, Em went on to record and release his first solo EP in November of 1996 aged 24, titled Infinite. Considered a commercial flop, a total of 500 vinyls were pressed.
It wasn’t until after releasing The Slim Shady EP in 1997 when Eminem started to make a name for himself. With the help of A&R’s Evan “Kidd” Boggart and Dean Geistlinger, the EP fell into the hands of Jimmy Iovine, head of Interscope Records. Jimmy then got Em in touch with legendary producer Dr. Dre.
Produced and co-signed by Dr. Dre, Em had an unprecedented run of success, releasing three well-reviewed multi-platinum albums:
However, things began to come crashing down in 2004, as his fifth studio album Encore was leaked online, forcing him to release days earlier than expected with rushed additions. The critique received coupled with his growing drug addiction lead Eminem to take a a 4 year hiatus, during which his best friend Proof was fatally shot.
Relapse in May 2009 saw the return of the Slim Shady persona. This aptly named project received mixed reviews due to the variety of unfamiliar accents throughout, yet still reached multi-platinum sales.
In 2010, Eminem had planned to release Relapse 2, but opted for Recovery, a more introspective sound which led Em to switch his style up from his previously shock-oriented lyrics to more emotional subject matters. This was a well-received and Grammy-award-winning album, and he employed a very similar approach to 2013’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2, the well-received sequel to Em’s magnum opus.
Eminem invested himself farther than ever into this new emotional style with 2017’s Revival, which included lyrics about his place in hip-hop, as well as modern issues including President Donald Trump. Despite the serious direction, many were turned off to the album due to its heavy Rock-sampling, with many considering it one of, if not his weakest project.
Following the controversy surrounding Revival and criticism of his modern style, Eminem surprise-released Kamikaze on August 31, 2018, responding to critics of Revival and his career overall. The album was much more well-received than his previous effort and went on to be the highest-selling rap album of 2018.
Once again, by surprise, Eminem released Music to Be Murdered By on January 17, 2020—Eminem’s first full-length project for the new decade. The album, similar to 2018’s Kamikaze, includes fast-paced rapping and heavy rhyming. The album’s cover is a reference to Sir Alfred Hitchcock, and his 1958 record of the same name, Music to Be Murdered By. In December 2020, Em released Music to Be Murdered By: Side B. This deluxe edition includes 16 new tracks that were not on the original tracklist.
On the 5th of August 2022 Eminem released Curtain Call 2 which is a second greatest hits compilation album including hits from Relapse to Music To Be Murdered By.
He has an extensive list of hit singles; some of the most popular include “Without Me,” “Lose Yourself,” “Stan,” “The Real Slim Shady,” “Mockingbird,” “When I’m Gone,” “Love the Way You Lie,” “Not Afraid,” “The Monster,” “Rap God” and “River.”
As of February 8, 2018, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” is officially certified diamond in the United States, meaning the song has sold over 10 million copies. It’s Eminem’s third diamond single after “Not Afraid” and “Love the Way You Lie." Eminem is now the first rapper and only the second artist to ever achieve this accolade.