Rapper, record producer and actor Eminem was born Marshall Bruce Mathers III on October 17, 1972, in St. Joseph, Missouri. Eminem was raised by his mother, Deborah Mathers. She never managed to secure a job for more than several months at a time, so they moved regularly between Missouri and Detroit, Michigan, spending large chunks of time in public housing projects.
Eminem attended Lincoln High School in Warren, Michigan, where he failed the ninth grade three times and eventually dropped out at the age of 17. Despite being a poor student, Eminem always had a deep affinity for language, devouring comic books and even studying the dictionary.
This white rapper burst onto the US charts in 1999 with a controversial take on the horror core genre. He took up rapping in high school before dropping out, joining ad hoc groups Basement Productions, the New Jacks, and D12.
The newly named Eminem released a raw debut album in 1997 through independent label FBT. Infinite was poorly received, however, with Eminem earning unfavourable comparisons to leading rappers such as Nas and AZ.
His determination to succeed was given a boost by a prominent feature in Source’s Unsigned Hype column, and he gained revenge on his former critics when he won the Wake Up Show’s Freestyle Performer Of The Year award, and finished runner-up in Los Angeles’ annual Rap Olympics.
Eminem and Proof soon started a new group called D12 with four other MCs (Bizarre, Kon Artis, Swift, and Kuniva), while Eminem simultaneously launched his solo career with two independent releases, 1996’s Infinite and 1997’s The Slim Shady EP, which featured his trademark dark, disturbing, angry lyrics.
Eminem drew from his troubled personal life when penning such bleak words: He had just had a daughter with his on and off girlfriend, Kim, with whom he had a very disorderly relationship; he was at odds with his mother, with whom he also frequently butted heads; he was abusing alcohol and drugs with alarming frequency; and he had attempted suicide on at least one occasion.
The Slim Shady LP was a commercial success and earned the rapper his first Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. His next two releases, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) and The Eminem Show (2002), were worldwide successes, each earning US Diamond certification in sales.
Both albums also won the Best Rap Album Grammy Award, making Eminem the first artist to win such an award for three consecutive LPs. This was followed by Encore in 2004, another critical and commercial successful album. Eminem then went on hiatus after touring in 2005.
On October 21, 2008, Eminem released a tell-all autobiography entitled The Way I Am, which details his struggles with poverty, drugs, fame, heartbreak and depression, along with stories about his rise to fame and commentary on past controversies.
Eminem was featured in two commercials that aired during Super Bowl XLV. The first, for Lipton’s Brisk Iced Tea, was a one-minute spot that featured him as a claymation figure. Eminem has also founded his own charity named The Marshall Mathers Foundation, assisting disadvantaged youth.