‘One of the greatest artists of all time’ – the Rolling Stone
Marshall Mathers or Eminem was born on October 17, 1972, in Saint Joseph, Missouri. He was the only child of Deborah R. Nelson Mathers-Briggs and Marshall Bruce Mathers, Jr. His father abandoned the family when he was only 18 months old and was raised solely by his mother. Marshall moved from numerous cities in his childhood but eventually settled in Detroit in his teens. Marshall’s uncle, Ronald “Ronnie” Nelson (mentioned in many of his songs) first introduced him to hip-hop music at age 11 and from then on he frequently participated in freestyle ‘rap battles’ on the east side of Detroit. Although he struggled at first he succeeded in a predominantly African-American industry at 17, gaining the respect of underground hip-hop audiences.
Eminem was signed to Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records in 1998 and worked with producer Dr. Dre one year later in 1999 to release his first major studio album, The Slim Shady LP. The album was a huge success becoming 4X platinum certified by the RIAA. Eminem used his new found power to tell realistic stories of his harsh personal life. Marshall was driven to be successful and popular in order to sell records, but he did that because he was trying to get away from a poor and disadvantaged life. The albums lyrics were extremely controversial, with constant references to drug use, sexual acts, mental instability and over-the-top violence. On the other hand he dealt with more serious themes of his life such as poverty, marital and family difficulties while responding to criticism. He became a social icon with influence over many people through his music. What he says in his songs delivers a message to young people, and they look up to him because he stuck to his goals, and made it. He was a beacon of hope for many people because he stayed true to himself and didn’t care what the critics were saying.
His second major album, The Marshall Mathers LP was released in May 2000 and smashed any previous records in the U.S. It sold 1.76 million copies in the first week becoming the fastest selling solo album in United States history. In his second single ‘The Way I Am’, he reveals to his fans the pressures from his record company to sell more records than he did in the Slim Shady LP. Eminem’s third single ‘Stan’ (which uses Dido’s ‘Thank You’) deals with his new found fame, taking on the persona of a deranged fan, (Stan) who kills himself at the end of the song. The song is listed by many as the greatest hip-hop song of all time, being ranked #3 on a list of the greatest rap songs in history by Q magazine. His songs use realistic story telling that deliver a message that touches the hearts of people worldwide. Eminem has travelled to the top of the music industry and is praised by people all over the world as “The King of Hip-Hop” – Rolling Stone. He has 13 Grammy Awards, has sold more than 86.5 million records worldwide to date, has totalled over 1 billion views on his official Vevo page on YouTube and has nearly 50 million likes on Facebook.
Eminem has inspired and influenced millions of people with his music. People criticise him for his ‘sickening’ and ‘childish’ lyrics when you only have to look into the meanings behind the songs to realise the power of his musical genius. People relate to him because he talks in real terms about struggles in life that many people have to face. They feel that he is speaking for them and this influences them, and that’s where he gets his real power from. He uses his power of influence for good by founding his own charity named The Marshall Mathers Foundation, assisting disadvantaged youth in his home town of Detroit and all over America. Eminem struggled through adversity and poverty to become one of the wealthiest and respected artists to date.
– by Matt Benic, 10ENG