The leading rapper wouldn't be able to grace the pages of Rap Pages, VIBE, Spin, The Source, URB and Stress and go on a national tour months before their major-label debut album is released. Then again, Eminem isn't an average rapper. He's phenomenal.
The impending release of the Slim Shady LP, his first set on Aftermath/Interscope Records, already has underground hip-hop heads fiending for Eminem. Chock full of dazzling lyrical escapades that delve into the mind of a violently warped and vulgar yet extremely talented wordsmith, the 14-cut collection contains some of the most memorable and demented lyrics ever recorded.
For Eminem, his potentially controversial and undoubtedly offensive songs will strike a chord with a multitude of hip-hop loyalists who believe they have little to lose and everything to gain.
"I'm not alone in feeling the way I feel," he says. "I believe that a lot of people can relate to my sh*t--whether white, black, it doesn't matter. Everybody has been through some sh*t, whether it's drastic or not so drastic. Everybody gets to the point of 'I don't give a f**k.'"
Those words are more than just a slogan for the Detroit resident. "I Just Don't Give A F*ck" and "Brain Damage" are the two songs comprising Eminem's initial single from the Slim Shady LP. Each tune is sure to paralyze meek listeners with their relentless lyrical assault. Produced primarily by long-time collaborators FBT Productions, the Slim Shady LP also features beatwork from Aftermath CEO Dr. Dre. The N.W.A. alum handled beats for "My Name Is" (the second single), "Guilty Conscience" and "Role Model."
Dr. Dre was so impressed after hearing Eminem freestyling on a Los Angeles radio station that he put out a manhunt for the Michigan rhymer. Shortly thereafter, Dre signed Eminem to his Aftermath imprint and the two began working together. Thoroughly impressed with Eminem's previously released independent Slim Shady EP, Dre said they would include many of the EP's tracks on the album.
"It was an honor to hear the words out of Dre's mouth that he liked my sh*t," Eminem says. "Growing up, I was one of the biggest fans of N.W.A, from putting on the sunglasses and looking in the mirror and lipsinking to wanting to be Dr. Dre, to be Ice Cube. This is the biggest hip-hop producer ever."
But like many other rappers, Eminem's rise to stardom was far from easy. After being born in Kansas City and traveling back and forth between KC and the Detroit metropolitan area, Eminem and his mother moved into the Eastside of Detroit when he was 12. Switching schools every two to three months made it difficult to make friends, graduate and to stay out of trouble.
Rap, however, became Eminem's solace. Battling schoolmates in the lunchroom brought joy to what was otherwise a painful existence. Although he would later drop out of school and land several minimum-wage-paying, full-time jobs, his musical focus remained constant.
Eminem released his debut album, Infinite, in 1996. Desperate to be embraced by the Motor City's hip-hop scene, Eminem rapped in such a manner that he was accused of sounding like Nas and AZ.
"Infinite was me trying to figure out how I wanted my rap style to be, how I wanted to sound on the mic and present myself," he recalls. "It was a growing stage. I felt like Infinite was like a demo that just got pressed up."
After being thoroughly disappointed and hurt by the response Infinite received, Eminem began working on what would later become the Slim Shady EP -- a project he made for himself. Featuring several scathing lines about local music industry personalities as well as devious rants about life in general, the set quickly caught the ear of hip-hop's difficult-to-please underground.
"I had nothing to lose, but something to gain," Eminem says of that point in his life. "If I made an album for me and it was to my satisfaction, then I succeeded. If I didn't, then my producers were going to give up on the whole rap thing we were doing. I made some sh*t that I wanted to hear. The Slim Shady EP, I lashed out on everybody who talked sh*t about me."
By presenting himself as himself, Eminem and his career took off. Soon after giving the Rap Coalition's Wendy Day a copy of the Infinite album at a chance meeting, she helped the aspiring lyrical gymnast secure a spot at the Coalition’s 1997 Rap Olympics in Los Angeles, where he won second place in the freestyle competition. During the trip, Eminem and his manager, Paul Rosenberg, gave a few people from Interscope Records his demo and he made his major radio debut on the world famous Wake Up Show with Sway and Tech. Realizing that this was the opportunity of his lifetime, Eminem delivered a furious medley of lyrics that wowed his hosts and radio audience alike.
"I felt like it's my time to shine," Eminem says of that performance. "I have to rip this. At that time, I felt that it was a life or death situation."
Eminem would soon record the underground classic "5 Star Generals." This record helped establish him in Japan, New York and Los Angeles. It also helped him earn a spot on the inaugural Lyricist Lounge tour, which took him to stages from Philadelphia to Los Angeles.
Set to take the hip-hop world by storm with his unique lyrical approach and punishing production, Eminem and his Slim Shady LP are sure to have listeners captivated.
"I do say things that I think will shock people," he says. "But I don't do things to shock people. I'm not trying to be the next Tupac, but I don't know how long I'm going to be on this planet. So while I'm here, I might as well make the most of it."
Bio Courtesy of Official Site Eminem.com
Eminem emerged in 1999 as one of the most controversial rappers to ever grace the genre. Using his biting wit and incredible skills to vent on everything from his unhappy childhood to his contempt for the mainstream media, his success became the biggest crossover success the genre had seen since Dre's solo debut seven years earlier.
The controversy over his lyrics was the best publicity any musician could afford, and being the first Caucasian rapper to make a significant impact in years may have given him a platform not afforded to equally talented African-American rappers. A gifted producer as well, his talents always seemed overshadowed by his media presence, which was a mix between misunderstood genius and misogynistic homophobe. Both may be true, but his message spoke to legions of disaffected youth who had few role models in the rap world who could relate to the white lower-class experience.
He was born Marshall Mathers in St. Joseph, MO (near Kansas City), spending the better part of his impoverished childhood shuttling back and forth between his hometown and the city of Detroit. Initially attracted to rap as a teen, Eminem began performing at age 14, performing raps in the basement of his high school friend's home. The two went under the names Manix and M&M (soon changed to Eminem), which Mathers took from his own initials. Due to the unavoidable racial boundaries that came with being a white rapper, he decided the easiest way to win over underground hip-hop audiences was to become a battle rapper and improv against other MCs in clubs.
Although he wasn't immediately accepted, through time he became such a popular attraction that people would challenge him just to make a name for themselves.
His uncle's suicide prompted a brief exodus from the world of rap, but he returned and found himself courted by several other rappers to start groups. He first joined the New Jacks, and then moved on to Soul Intent, who released Eminem's first recorded single in 1995. A rapper named Proof performed the B-side on the single and enjoyed working with Eminem so much that he asked him to start yet another group.
Drafting in a few other friends, the group became known as D-12, a six-member crew that supported one another as solo artists more than they collaborated. The birth of Eminem's first child put his career on hold again as he started working in order to care for his family. This also instilled a bitterness that started to creep into his lyrics as he began to drag personal experiences into the open and make them the topic of his raps.
A debut record, 1996's Infinite, broke his artistic rut but received few good reviews, as comparisons to Nas and AZ came unfavorably. Undaunted, he downplayed many of the positive messages he had been including in his raps and created Slim Shady, an alter ego that was not afraid to say whatever he felt. Tapping into his innermost feelings, he had a bounty of material to work with when his mother was accused of mentally and physically abusing his younger brother the same year.
The next year his girlfriend left him and barred him from visiting their child, so he was forced to move back in with his mother, an experience that fueled his hatred toward her and made him even more sympathetic toward his brother. The material he was writing was uncharacteristically dark as he began to abuse drugs and alcohol at a more frequent rate. An unsuccessful suicide attempt was the last straw, as he realized his musical ambitions were the only way to escape his unhappy life. He released the brutal Slim Shady EP, a mean-spirited, funny, and thought-provoking record that was light years ahead of the material he had been writing beforehand. Making quite the impression in the underground not only for his exaggerated, nasal-voiced rapping style but also for his skin color, many quarters dubbed him the music's next "great white hope."
According to legend, Dr. Dre discovered his demo tape on the floor of Interscope label chief Jimmy Iovine's garage, but the reality was that Eminem took second place in the freestyle category at 1997's Rap Olympics MC Battle in Los Angeles and Iovine approached the rapper for a tape afterward. It wasn't until a month or two later that he played the tape for an enthusiastic Dre, who eagerly contacted Eminem. Upon meeting, Dre was taken back by his skin color more than his skill, but within the first hour they had already started recording "My Name Is."
Dre agreed to produce his first album and the two released "Just Don't Give a Fuck" as a single to preview the new album. A reconciliation with his girlfriend led to the two getting married in the fall of 1998, and Interscope signed the rapper and prepared to give him a massive push on Dre's advice. An appearance on Kid Rock's Devil Without a Cause only helped the buzz that was slowly surrounding him.
The best-selling Slim Shady LP followed in early 1999, scoring a massive hit with the single and video "My Name Is," plus a popular follow-up in "Guilty Conscience"; over the next year, the album went triple platinum. With such wide exposure, controversy ensued over the album's content, with some harshly criticizing its cartoon-ish, graphic violence; others praised its edginess and surreal humor, as well as Eminem's own undeniable lyrical skills and Dre's inventive production. In between albums, Eminem appeared on Dre's Dr. Dre 2001, with his contributions providing some of the record's liveliest moments.
The Marshall Mathers LP appeared in the summer of 2000, moving close to two-million copies in its first week of release on its way to becoming the fastest-selling rap album of all time. Unfortunately, this success also bred more controversy, and no other musician was better suited for it than Eminem. Among the incidents that occurred included a scuffle with the Insane Clown Posse's employees in a car stereo shop, a bitter battle with pop star Christina Aguilera over a lyric about her fictional sexual exploits, a lawsuit from his mother over defamation of character, and an attack on a Detroit club goer after Eminem allegedly witnessed the man kissing his wife.
Fans ate it up as his album stood strong at the top of the charts. But the mainstream media was not so enamored, as accusations of homophobia and sexism sprung from the inflammatory lyrics in the songs "Kill You" and "Kim." It was this last song that ended his marriage, as the song's chosen topic (violently murdering his real life wife Kim Mathers) drove his spouse to a suicide attempt before they divorced. Eminem toured throughout most of this, settling several of his court cases and engaging a mini-feud with rapper Everlast.
The annual Grammy Awards nominated the album for several awards, and to silence his critics the rapper called on Elton John to duet with him at the ceremony. In 2001, he teamed with several of his old Detroit running buddies and re-formed D-12. Releasing an album with the group, Eminem hit the road with them that summer and tried to ignore the efforts of his mother, who released an album in retaliation to his comments.
After getting off of the road, he stepped in front of the camera and filmed 8 Mile, a film loosely based on his life directed by the unlikely fan Curtis Hanson (Wonder Boys). His constant media exposure died out as well, leaving him time to work on new music.
When he re-emerged in 2002, he splashed onto the scene with "Without Me," a single that attacked Moby and Limp Bizkit and celebrated his return to music. Surprisingly, the following album, The Eminem Show, inspired little controversy. Instead, the popular second single "Cleanin' Out My Closet" told of his dysfunctional childhood and explained his hatred toward his mother in a mannered, poignant fashion. And being Eminem, he followed this up with an appearance at MTV's Video Music Awards that inspired boos when he verbally assaulted Moby for no apparent reason.