NBA legend Charles Barkley once asked what was wrong with the world. “The best golfer is black and the best rapper is white.” The golfer he was referring to was Tiger Woods. The rapper he was referring to was Eminem.
Eminem is arguably the greatest rapper of all-time. At the very least, he’s in the conversation. He’s the bestselling artist in the United States in the 2000s. As a solo artist, a member of D12, and one half of Bad Meets Evil, he’s responsible for ten number one albums. In a recording career that began in 1996, Eminem has sold nearly 100 million albums and more than 120 million singles. On his mantle sits 13 Grammy Awards and an Academy Award (for his song “Lose Yourself” from the film 8 Mile).
Studio Albums Infinite (1996) The Slim Shady LP (1999) The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) Devil's Night* (2001) The Eminem Show (2002) D12 World* (2004) Encore (2004) Relapse (2009) Recovery (2010) Hell: The Sequel# (2011) The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013) *With D12 #With Bad Meets Evil
Eminem is so popular he could rap the phone book and it would sell a million copies. Rolling Stone named him the 83rd greatest artist of all-time (that list includes all genres and all eras). In 2008, Vibe magazine named him the “best rapper alive.”
Eminem sets himself apart from other rappers with his smooth flow and his ability to rhyme just about anything. He connects to his audiences through two divergent concepts: humor and rage. When his lyrics aren’t showing off Eminem’s wit then they’re revealing his anger. His genius however, comes from an ability to exhibit rage in a way that’s relatable and not alienating.
Due to Eminem’s profane-laden lyrics, he has been accused of being homophobic and misogynistic. In his songs, he has ridiculed numerous celebrities including Christina Aguilera, Marilyn Manson, Dick Cheney, and Moby.
Musically, Eminem often mixes elements of hip hop with rock and roll. For example, Eminem’s “Sing for the Moment” borrows most of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and “Berzerk” samples Billy Squier's "The Stroke."
Eminem’s real name is Marshall Mathers III. He was born Oct. 17, 1972. His mother was 17 at the time. Mathers grew up without a father in Detroit, Michigan where he was often the target of bullying. Before discovering rap music, Mathers wanted to be a comic book artist.
Mathers’ big break came in 1997 when he placed second in an event called the “Rap Olympics.” That finish led to Interscope Records CEO Jimmy Iovine playing a copy of Eminem’s Slim Shady EP to Dr. Dre. After listening to the compact disc, Dre turned to Iovine and exclaimed: “Find him. Now.”