Forty-five-year-old Marshall Bruce Mathers III, more well-known by his stage name “Eminem”, is an extremely successful actor, rapper, record producer, and songwriter. Through the years “Eminem has grown as an artist”, broken many records, and received countless awards. Some of his greatest accomplishments include: Becoming the first rapper ever to receive an Oscar for ‘Best Original Song’ in 2003, releasing an album in 2003 named ‘The Marshall Mather EP’ which allowed him to become a Guinness World Record holder for “The Fastest Selling Rap Album in a week”, and receiving his sixth ‘Best Rap Album’ award(has 9 total) at the 2015 Grammy Awards making him the most awarded rapper of all time. “The Slim Shady LP” in 1999, “The Marshall Mathers LP” in 2000, “The Eminem Show” in 2002, and “Encore” in 2004 have sold over 30,000,000 copies in the U.S. alone. He was named the ‘best-selling rap artist’ in the 2000’s by the Rolling Stones Magazine. However, his fame and success wasn’t effortlessly obtained as he went through a series of trials and tribulations to live the life of luxury that he now has.
Eminem was raised in a household in which his father was never around. His father, Marshall Mathers Jr., abandoned his family when he was only three years old. Eminem’s father also declined his many attempts to contact him when he was a child so, as a result, he was raised in a single-mother household by Deborah Mathers. Deborah was never able to stay employed for more than several months at a time, forcing their family to constantly move around as he spent most of his time lodging in different public housing projects around Missouri and Detroit, Michigan. “I would change schools two, three times a year. That was probably the toughest part of all.” Eminem recalled in an interview with Anderson Cooper, a CBS news reporter.
Moving from schools so frequently caused Eminem to develop an itinerant lifestyle which ended up having a large impact on his personality. Consequently, Eminem was never able to create any close friendships. During school he would keep mostly to himself, but often times, altercations with fellow classmates was inevitable. “Beat up in the bathroom, beat up in the hallways, shoved into lockers,” he remembered. “You know not to sound corny or nuthin’, but I felt like a fighter comin’ up man. I’m being attacked for this reason or that reason, and I gotta fight my way through it,” he stated. Problem solving against hardships such as bullying is extremely important in the development of his character, and was just as critical on the progression of his career because it teaches him to be self-sufficient.
Eminem discovered rap in his early teenage years, and it was through its use of street smarts and ‘tough talk’ where he had a sudden striking of realization, that rapping was his passion. “I knew I wanted to be a rapper when I was around 14.” Eminem attended Lincoln High School in in Warren, Michigan, where he struggled in his classes. He failed the ninth grade three times and at the age of 17 dropped out of high school. Despite the fact that he was a substandard student all throughout school, he has always had an affection for language arts. Most of his free-time was spent constantly reading books, as well as studying the dictionary. “I found that no matter how bad I was at school, like, and no matter how low my grades might have been at sometimes, I always was good at English … I just felt like I wanna be able to have all of these words at my disposal, in my vocabulary at all times whenever I need to pull ’em out. You know, somewhere, they’ll be stored, like, locked away.”
As a high school dropout, Eminem found a way to express his passions for language arts and rap, through the musical genre of hip hop. At the time, rap/hip-hop was nearly exclusively produced by only African American individuals Eminem, who was white with blonde hair and blue eyes, still entered the rap scene at various underground clubs frequently as a competitor in rap battles. A rap battle, is a competition where two individuals stand face-to-face on a stage and take turns insulting one another using raps that were either improvised or prepared beforehand. This technique/style of rap was known as “freestyle.” Eminem proved extremely talented at such an activity, and quickly became the most respected battle rapper in the underground rap scene.
Eminem stated, “I finally found something that yeah, this kid over here, you know, he may have more chicks, and he may, you know, have better clothes, or whatever, but he can’t do this like me. You know what I mean? He can’t write what I’m writing right now.” Marshall then acquired the stage name of ‘M&M’ as a reference to his initials. Although his career was doing exceptionally well and he was growing at a steady pace, his family was still struggling financially. His day consisted of working two to three odd jobs in order to assist his mother in paying rent, while participating in rap battles trying to secure a record deal. This period of his life would later be dramatized in his autobiographical movie, 8 Mile.
Eminem is undoubtedly one of the most acclaimed and successful rappers in the history of this genre of music. He is just as responsible as any other individual artist for the transformation of rap over the past two decades. Sixteen years, and ten albums later, the white rapper shocked and fascinated the world with his youthful music.