Marshall Mathers III, otherwise known as Eminem, or as his alter-ego Slim Shady, is the definition of rags to riches story. We all know about his insanely turbulent upbringing through his music. He grew up in Detroit with an unstable mother and no father in the picture. His mom moved him around a lot, so he never got to feel settled or make friends. Instead, he got severely bullied.
The only people in his life were his toxic mother, his uncle and best friend Ronnie, his on-and-off girlfriend Kim, and eventually his daughter Hailie. He went through a lot of suffering before becoming the incredible superstar we all know and love. He used rap as an outlet for his emotions, and troubled individuals all over the country relate to his music. Eminem’s storytelling talents are a gift, and he chronicles his entire life through his lyrics. The hip-hop rapper has become an industry icon.
Here are the details about hip-hop legend Eminem’s life and career.
The Birth of a Rap God
Marshall Bruce Mathers III was welcomed into the world on October 17, 1972, in St. Joseph, Missouri. As you might already know from his songs, Eminem didn’t have the easiest childhood. He struggled with poverty, abuse, and his father abandoned him when he was just a toddler.
Since he was 14 years old, Mathers started rapping in clubs around Detroit, Michigan. After his low attendance required him to stay in ninth grade for the third year, he dropped out and focused on hip-hop music, determined to make a career out of it.
Finding Peace in Hip-Hop
Eminem slowly made a name for himself in the underground hip-hop world as both a solo artist and as a member of the rap group D12, also known as the Dirty Dozen. In 1996, Mathers came out with his first album, Infinite. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell very well, so the aspiring rapper continued to work odd jobs.
But in 1997, Eminem won second place in the freestyle category at the Rap Olympics. That’s when he caught the attention of Dr. Dre, founding member of pioneering rappers N.W.A., but more importantly, the head of Aftermath Entertainment.
Introducing Slim Shady
By that point, Eminem had already developed his alter ego: Slim Shady. His new persona helped give the rapper a voice to become vulgar and violent in his lyrics. So, with Dr. Dre as his mentor and producer, The Slim Shady LP came out in early 1999.
His innovative channel-surfing music video for the smash hit, “My Name Is,” along with Dr. Dre’s involvement, gave the up-and-coming rapper instant credibility. The album was a huge success and sold several million copies. It was the beginning of a long and wild career.
His Controversial Lyrics
Stemming from his life experiences but seemingly reflecting a troubled mind, Eminem’s songs were controversial and outraged many people, such as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which dubbed him a homophobic misogynist.
He chronicled his unhealthy relationship with his wife Kim in his lyrics and often rapped about killing her. Eminem was charged with assault in 2000 when he reportedly pistol-whipped a man he caught kissing her. The pair split up in 2001, but their relationship remained toxic. In 2006, they got married again and then divorced again. He was also sued by his mother, whom he defamed in his music and interviews.
The Fastest-Selling Rap Album
Eminem released The Marshal Mathers LP in 2000 and set the record for the fastest-selling rap album in the United States. The provocative album included the provoking singles “The Real Slim Shady” and “Stan,” which brought more controversy. In 2001, Eminem performed a duet with Elton John at the Grammy Awards to silence the critics.
Later that year, he recorded the D12 album Devil’s Night and toured with the band. He also founded his own record label, Shady Records. The D12 collective and other rappers, including 50 Cent, signed and released music with the label.
The Eminem Show
In 2002, Eminem came back with The Eminem Show. The amazing album proved to be just as popular as the Marshall Mathers LP. He also made his acting debut that year in the semi-autobiographical movie 8 Mile.
Eminem starred alongside Brittany Murphy, and the movie was a huge critical and commercial success. He won an Academy Award the following year for “Lose Yourself,” the movie’s hit song. Although it wasn’t a totally accurate representation of his life, it helped fans understand his upbringing and what it was like to grow up in a rough neighborhood.
A Tough Year
2004 was a busy year for the famous rapper. Eminem teamed up with D12 once again for their world tour. He then released my personal favorite album of his, Encore (2004), and a greatest hits set, Curtain Call: The Hits (2005). Both sold well but didn’t receive as much attention as his previous albums.
He then took a little break from the public eye before resurfacing in 2006 to eulogize his friend and fellow D12 member, Proof, who was killed outside of a nightclub in Detroit. Two years later, Eminem’s memoir The Way I Am was released, and it included photos, drawings, and lyrics.
Guess Who’s Back
In 2009, Eminem released Relapse, marking his first collection of new material in five years. Even though it included remarkable production from Dr. Dre, the album was met with split reviews. Apparently, it was a bit over-the-top and seemingly tried too hard to shock.
Nevertheless, “Crack a Bottle” was the second Eminem song to make it to the top of the Billboard charts (after “Lose Yourself”). The rapper won Grammys for the song as well as the album. His next album, Recovery (2010), was a response to the criticism he received from Relapse.
Still Making Music
Although Eminem wasn’t at the forefront of the hip-hop world anymore, Recovery proved that he was still a force to be reckoned with, thanks to his soul-baring singles “Not Afraid” and “Love the Way You Lie” featuring Rihanna, which both became massive hits.
Eminem partnered up with Rihanna once again on “The Monster” for The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013), which was his sixth one to win the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. For his 2017 album Revival, he received mixed reviews, and his 2018 album Kamikaze was described as dull in tone.
Going Down as a Legend
But the criticism didn’t have much of an impact on sales. Then, his 2020 Music to Be Murdered By became his 10th consecutive album to reach the top of the Billboard 200 chart. Eminem also collaborated with rapper Royce da 5’9” under the name Bad Meets Evil. Among their releases was the E.P. Hell: The Sequel (2011).
Eminem continues to put his raw emotions into brilliant lyrics and is considered a genius by many. He opens up his heart in his music, and no matter how controversial some of his songs are, many people are able to relate to him and the difficulties he faced. He gives people hope that if he could make it, anyone can.
He Failed 9th Grade
A huge part of Eminem’s success is his way with words. He has a special ability to craft the English language into clever, witty, and entertaining lyrics. However, the rapper never even made it to 10th grade. He attended Lincoln High School for three years, but he spent all three of them as a freshman.
He continually failed ninth grade because of bad grades and low attendance. Naturally, he didn’t enjoy school or any of his classes really… except one. You guessed it; his favorite subject was English. He really enjoyed learning new words.
But He Was Great in English
During an interview, the rapper explained: “I found that no matter how bad I was at school 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 those words at my disposal, in my vocabulary at all times whenever I need to pull them out. You know, somewhere they’ll be stored and locked away.”
Despite dropping out of high school, young Marshall Mathers would read a dictionary and learn as many words as he possibly could. Stay in school, kids! Unless you’re reading dictionaries in your spare time.
He Got Served
Eminem is no stranger to lawsuits. His first one came in 1999 from his dear old mom. She sued him for $10 million for slandering her in his earlier albums. I mean, we all remember the song Cleaning Out My Closet, and it didn’t exactly paint her in a good light.
His mother only ended up getting $1,600 in 2001. In 2002, Eminem released the song Without Me, which featured the lyrics, “I settled all my lawsuits; f**k you Debbie!” I guess it’s safe to say he didn’t seem very fazed by it.
Eminem seems to get in trouble by including real people in his famous lyrics and could potentially change the public’s perception of them and ruin their lives. Kim was his next victim; she sued the rapper for defaming her in his song Kim.
The song was named after her, so there was no question about who he was referring to. If you have heard the song, it pretty much describes her violent death, and it’s pretty cruel. After the song came out, Kim slashed her wrists and attempted suicide. Eventually, the two reached a settlement.
Karma’s a Bi***, Mr. Bailey
Eminem’s next lawsuit came in 2001 from his childhood bully, who sued the rapper for $1 million after Eminem painted him in a false light in the song Brain Damage. He confessed to picking on young Marshall as a kid, but the lyrics were totally exaggerated.
The judge threw out the lawsuit and rapped the verdict: “Mr. Bailey complains that his rep is trash/ so he’s seeking compensation in the form of cash/Bailey thinks he’s entitled to some monetary gain/because Eminem used his name in vain. The lyrics are stories no-one would take as fact/They’re an exaggeration of childish act/It is, therefore, this court’s ultimate position/that Eminem is entitled to summary disposition.”
Insulting Fellow Celebs
Eminem definitely knows how to piss people off. His lyrics not only offend the general public, but he also knows how to insert people, including celebrities, into his songs. He alluded to the fact that some female celebrities are hussies… but his choice of words were a little less polite, of course.
Some examples are Christina Aguilera, Pamela Anderson, Mariah Carey, Kim Kardashian, and Lindsay Lohan. He also insinuated that some celebrities are gay… also in less polite terms (Insane Clown Posse and Moby). He also insulted people for being ugly (Khloe Kardashian).
More Celebrity Feuds
But that’s not where it ends. He also accused celebrities of inappropriate behavior against children (Michael Jackson) for having a bad voice (Britney Spears), and he even went as far as to diss female performers for looking like men (Lady Gaga).
These are just a few of his innocent victims. Some people have fired back at Eminem, and others, who didn’t want to add fuel to the fire, took the high road and decided to ignore it completely. He probably won’t ever run out of celebrities to make fun of. After all, he is the “king of controversy,” according to himself.
He Was in a Coma for 10 Days
As a child, Eminem was a victim of severe bullying. His family moved around a lot and often lived in predominately Black neighborhoods where he would get made fun of for being white. He was constantly tormented by a then-eight grader, D’Angelo Bailey. Bailey beat him up so badly that the future-rapper experienced intense symptoms like vomiting, nightmares, and insomnia.
He mentions it in his song Brain Damage, where he names the bully and how he treated him as a youngster. There was one occasion that was particularly terrifying. Bailey threw an ice ball at nine-year-old Marshall and hit him in the head. His injury was so bad that it left him in a coma for ten days.
He Was Abandoned
If you have listened to any of his songs, you definitely know that Eminem’s dad left him. When he was two years old, his father, Marshall Bruce Mathers Jr., walked out on the family. Eminem said that his dad made zero effort to see or contact him after that.
Feeling abandoned at such a young age definitely explains his behavior later in life. Eminem holds a lot of deep-rooted pain and anger against his father for this reason. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the greatest relationship with his mother either and really could have used a father figure in his life.
Not My Father
Back in 2002, his dad actually wrote Eminem a letter and published it in a newspaper. In the letter, he blamed the rapper’s mother for keeping them apart on purpose. Eminem didn’t fall for it and refused to meet his dad after he was forced to grow up without him.
During an interview with 60 Minutes, Eminem said: “I can’t understand how (he could leave). If my kids moved to the edge of the earth, I’d find them—no doubt in my mind. No money, no nothing – if I had nothing, I’d find my kids. So, there’s no excuse.” I can’t argue with that.
His Best Friend
Eminem’s uncle was Ronnie Polkingharn. They were born just two months apart from each other, so they grew up as best friends. Ronnie was a huge influence on Eminem and introduced his nephew to hip-hop and break dancing.
They spent a ton of time together and would record rap tapes. Ronnie shared Em’s dream of a music career. They were so close, and with such a hard upbringing, they were lucky to have each other to lean on. Unfortunately, things came to a tragic end.
Mathers received a heartbreaking call from his estranged mother in 1991, notifying him that his uncle and best friend was dead. He had committed suicide after he and his girlfriend broke up. You’ve definitely heard the name Ronnie mentioned in some of his songs, most notably in Stan and Cleanin’ Out My Closet.
His lyrics about his beloved uncle express tremendous grief over the loss; for example, in My Dad’s Gone Crazy, he writes, “More pain inside of my brain, in the eyes of a little girl inside of a plane aimed at the trade, standin’ on Ronnie’s grave, screaming at the sky.”
At a certain point in his career, Eminem’s childhood demons emerged. If you know anything about the rapper, he never tried to hide his drug use. He has openly discussed his addiction issues and revealed that he followed in his mom’s dangerous footsteps of taking prescription pills.
Since he wasn’t really into hardcore street drugs, it was hard for him to recognize that he actually had a problem and a dependency on pills. Instead of being the stereotypical drug addict shooting heroin in an alley somewhere, he was popping cocktails of Ambient, Vicodin, and Valium to get him through the day.
Struggling With Addiction
Unfortunately, he dealt with his addiction for years, and it got worse before it got better. His addiction took a terrifying turn in 2007 when the rapper overdosed on methadone. Doctors said that he consumed the equivalent of four bags of heroin.
Needless to say, he was just hours away from death before they saved him. He went for treatment but then relapsed. In 2008, he got clean again with Elton John as his mentor. He said John’s fatherly role ultimately convinced him to get off drugs completely. That, and he didn’t want his children to lose him.
A White Rapper
In 1970, hip-hop rap music was formed in the United States, but it was generally a music genre reserved for African Americans. When the 1980s rolled around, rap music was recognized all over the world with performers like LL Cool J and Run-D.M.C.
But it wasn’t until the 1990s when hip-hop began to diversify, and that’s when white rappers stepped onto the scene, including Vanilla Ice, The Beastie Boys, House of Pain, and, of course, the one and only Eminem. He had no problem becoming the king of the rap music genre.
Breaking the Color Barrier
Eminem was known for growing up in a predominately white neighborhood, but he really broke color barriers with the success of his hit album The Real Slim Shady. With a highly respected rap name like Dr. Dre producing his albums, it didn’t take long for Eminem’s career to skyrocket.
These days, Eminem is known as a genius and one of the best rappers of all time. He pretty much paved the way for other white rappers like Bubba Sparxxx, Asher Roth, Machine Gun Kelly, Macklemore, Mac Miller, and G-Easy, to name a few.
His Unstable Mother
It’s no secret that Eminem had a horrible and toxic relationship with his mother, Debbie. He spoke about her countless times in his music, and it’s clear that he held a lot of resentment toward her. She wasn’t able to provide her son a stable home since she was only 17 when she gave birth to him.
As Eminem got older, he constantly fought with his mother, and the two of them could not find a way to get along. In his music, Eminem accused his mother of child abuse and being addicted to prescription pills as she was raising him.
I’m Sorry, Mama
Eminem released the song Headlights ft. Nate Ruess in 2013, where he expressed remorse for how he treated his mother and rapping about their tumultuous relationship publicly. Reportedly, the rapper never performs Cleanin’ Out My Closet at concerts anymore out of respect for his mother.
On Mother’s Day in 2014, Eminem released the heart-wrenching video for Headlights, which shows his mom’s perspective throughout his career. Although fans hoped the two would finally have a healthy relationship, Eminem noted at the end of the song that he will always love his mom, but only from afar.
He Has Three Daughters
Everyone knows Eminem has one biological daughter with his ex-wife Kim Scott. The rapper loves his baby and brings her up in a bunch of his songs. But Eminem adopted two other girls, Alaina and Whitney. Alaina is Kim’s niece, her twin sister’s daughter.
Whitney is Kim’s biological daughter, whom she conceived with a man she cheated on Eminem with. Despite all the family drama, Eminem always loved and treated Alaina and Whitney like his own. He never resented either of the girls, and if anything, he was happy to bring them into his life.
The Adoption of Alaina and Whitney
In 2002, Eminem and Kim adopted Alaina in order to give her a better and more stable life. Unfortunately, her biological mother, Dawn Scott, had a terrible drug addiction while she was pregnant with her and after she gave birth. Dawn was found dead in a trailer park in 2016 from a heroin overdose.
In 2001, Kim got pregnant with another man during her on-and-off relationship with the famous rapper. Just six months after Whitney was born, she and Eminem were officially back together. He said he was willing to raise Whitney as his own and eventually adopted her. Today, he is proud to call all three young ladies his daughters.
Mr. and Mrs. Mathers
It was 1987 when 15-year-old Marshall Mathers III and 13-year-old Kimberly Scott met for the first time. They started dating in 1989 and so began one of the most volatile relationships in rap history. In 1995, their baby girl, Hailie Jade Scott, was welcomed into the world.
The pressures of raising a child while trying to make it in the music industry resulted in the couple briefly breaking up in 1996. The resentment over his broken relationship pushed him to create his infamous alter ego, Slim Shady: a raging character who would express his anger through rape, arson, and even murder.
Tying the Knot With Kim
Kim was able to look past all the traumatizing songs Eminem wrote about her and married him in 1999. But just one short year later, Eminem caught his wife kissing a male friend on the cheek. Eminem assaulted the man and was arrested. The incident was depicted in a skit called The Kiss in one of his albums.
Kim went to one of her husband’s concerts in 2000, and he promised her that he wouldn’t perform Kim, the cruel song about her death, and his hatred toward her. However, he did. Not only did he perform the song, but he had a Kim blow-up doll on stage with him, which he pretended to assault. That night, Kim attempted suicide. She filed for divorce in 2001.
Marriage to Kim Mathers: Take 2
Despite the violent song, her suicide attempt, and their all-around toxic relationship, Kim and Eminem decided to give it another shot and walked down the aisle once again in 2006. Their rekindled romance only lasted four months. In 2010, the rapper wrote the song I’m Going Through Changes, directed to his daughters:
“I still love your mother; that’ll never change; think about her every day. We just couldn’t never get it together, hey, wish there was a better way. For me to say it, but I swear on everything I’d do anything for her on any day.” Apparently, these days, the pair get along better than ever. Eminem built her a mansion not far from his own home, and the family spends a lot of time together.
Hailie Jade Scott
You could definitely describe Eminem as violent and angry. But if there is one thing that truly softens him up, it’s his precious daughter, Hailie Jade Scott. She is the subject of at least 22 of his songs including, My Darling, Beautiful, and Infinite.
Her voice can be heard in the song, I Think My Dad’s Gone Crazy, and he was featured in the music video for Mockingbird. Throughout his career, his dedication to his daughter has been evident. He tried to shield her from the spotlight as much as possible so that she could have a relatively normal upbringing.
Hailie Jade Now
In his dedication to his daughter in Hailie’s Song, the rapper sings, “Hailie, remember when I said if you ever need anything, daddy would be right there? Guess what? Daddy’s here, and I ain’t going nowhere baby, I love you.” Reportedly, Hailie was the Homecoming Queen at her high school, but Eminem watched from a classroom so that he wouldn’t steal any of the attention.
Get ready to feel old. Hailie Jade is now a stunning 25-year-old! She is active on Instagram and grew up to be an impressive young lady. It comes as no surprise that Eminem is proud of her. You could call Eminem a lot of things, but a bad dad is certainly not one of them.
He’s Always Been Blunt
Throughout his career, Eminem has been accused of many things such as being homophobic and violent toward women. I mean, his lyrics are obviously vile, vicious, and vulgar, but that’s what got him this far. His music tells stories, and although his songs can be shocking and intriguing, the rapper doesn’t care what people think.
He is frequently asked about his homophobic lyrics and jokes, but he denies having any negative feelings toward gay people and is good pals with an openly gay singer and songwriter, Elton John. He explained that when he was growing up rap battling gay slurs were thrown around in a derogatory manner all the time, but they weren’t directed specifically at homosexuals.
But He Means Well…
Eminem definitely has some deep-rooted issues against the women in his life, from his mother to his ex-wife. It’s obvious that those experiences fueled his lyrics against women. He said that his lyrics reflect how he feels at the time, but he has matured since then.
So, does he actually hate women? Maybe a few in particular, but as a father of three magnificent daughters whom he loves with all his being, it’s safe to say that no, he doesn’t hate women, despite his misogynistic lyrics.