Marshall Bruce Mathers III (born October 17, 1972), best known by his stage name, Eminem, is an American rapper, record producer, actor, and songwriter. Eminem is from Detroit, Michigan. In addition to his solo career, he is a member of D12 and (with Royce da 5’9″) half of the hip-hop duo Bad Meets Evil. Eminem is the best-selling artist of the 2000s in the United States; Rolling Stone ranked him 83rd on its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, calling him the King of Hip Hop. Including his work with D12 and Bad Meets Evil, Eminem has had ten number-one albums on the Billboard 200. He has sold more than 172 million albums, making him one of the world’s best-selling artists. As of June 2014, Eminem is the second-bestselling male artist of the Nielsen SoundScan era, the sixth-bestselling artist in the United States and the bestselling hip-hop artist, with sales of 45.1 million albums and 42 million tracks (including 31 million digital single certifications).
After his debut album Infinite (1996), Eminem achieved mainstream popularity in 1999 with The Slim Shady LP; the commercially successful second album received his first Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. His next two releases (2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP and 2002’s The Eminem Show) were worldwide successes, with each certified diamond in US sales. Both won Best Rap Album Grammy Awards, making Eminem the first artist to win the award for three consecutive LPs. They were followed by Encore in 2004, another critical and commercial success. Eminem went on hiatus after touring in 2005, releasing Relapse in 2009 and Recovery in 2010; both won Grammy Awards. Recovery was the bestselling album of 2010 worldwide, and the rapper’s second international bestselling album of the year (his first was The Eminem Show). Eminem’s eighth album (2013’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2) won two Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Album; it expanded his record for the most wins in that category and his Grammy total to 15.
Eminem has developed other ventures, including Shady Records with manager Paul Rosenberg. He has his own channel, Shade 45, on Sirius XM Radio. In November 2002, Eminem starred in the hip hop film 8 Mile. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Lose Yourself”, the first rap artist to win the award. Eminem has made cameo appearances in the films The Wash (2001), Funny People (2009), The Interview (2014) and the television series Entourage.
Mathers was born on October 17, 1972, in St. Joseph, Missouri. He is the only child of Marshall Bruce Mathers, Jr. (born June 30, 1951, and known as Bruce) and Deborah Rae Nelson (born January 6, 1955, and known as Debbie). Eminem is of English, German, Scottish and Swiss descent. Debbie was 14 when she met 18-year-old Bruce; at age 17, she nearly died during her 73-hour labor. Eminem’s parents were in a band called Daddy Warbucks, playing in Ramada Inns along the Dakotas-Montana border before their separation. Bruce left the family, moving to California and having two other children: Michael and Sarah (born c. 1982). Debbie later had a son, Nathan Kane Samara, born February 3, 1986 also known as Nate. During his childhood Eminem and Debbie shuttled between Missouri and Michigan, rarely staying in one house for more than a year or two and living primarily with family members. In Missouri they lived in several places, including Saint Joseph, Savannah and Kansas City, before settling in Warren, Michigan when Eminem was eleven. As a teenager, Eminem wrote letters to his father; according to Debbie, all came back marked “Return to sender.” Friends and family remember Eminem as a happy child, but “a bit of a loner” who was often bullied. One bully, De’Angelo Bailey, severely injured Eminem in the head; Debbie Nelson filed a lawsuit against the school in 1982, which was dismissed the following year.
Eminem spent much of his youth in a lower-middle-class, primarily African-American Detroit neighborhood. He and Debbie were one of three white households on their block, and Eminem was beaten by African-American youths several times. As a child he was interested in storytelling, aspiring to be a comic-book artist before discovering hip hop. Eminem heard his first rap song (“Reckless”, featuring Ice-T) at age nine on the Breakin’ soundtrack, a gift from Debbie’s half-brother Ronald (Ronnie) Polkinghorn. When Polkinghorn committed suicide ten years later, Eminem stopped speaking for days and did not attend his funeral.
His home life was seldom stable; Eminem frequently fought with his mother, who was described by a social worker as having a “very suspicious, almost paranoid personality.” When her son became famous Debbie bristled at suggestions that she was a less-than-ideal mother, contending that she sheltered him and was responsible for his success. In 1987, Debbie allowed runaway Kimberly Ann (Kim) Scott to stay at their home; several years later, Eminem began an on-and-off relationship with Kim. After spending three years in ninth grade due to truancy and poor grades, he dropped out of Lincoln High School at age 17. Although he was interested in English, he never explored literature (preferring comic books) and disliked math and social studies. Eminem worked at several jobs to help his mother pay the bills, later maintaining that she often threw him out of the house anyway. When she left to play bingo, he would blast the stereo and write songs.
At age 14, he began rapping with high-school friend Mike Ruby; they adopted the names “Manix” and “M&M,” which evolved into “Eminem”. Eminem sneaked into neighboring Osborn High School with friend and fellow rapper Proof for lunchroom freestyle rap battles. On Saturdays they attended open-mic contests at the Hip-Hop Shop on West 7 Mile, considered ground-zero for the Detroit rap scene. Struggling to succeed in a predominantly African-American industry, Eminem was appreciated by underground hip hop audiences. When he wrote verses, he wanted most of the words to rhyme; he wrote long words or phrases on paper and, underneath, worked on rhymes for each syllable. Although the words often made little sense, the drill helped Eminem practice sounds and rhymes.
Eminem has been scrutinized, as a rapper and personalThe The rapper was married twice to Kimberly Anne (Kim) Scott. He met Kim in high school; he was 15 and she was 13 when he stood on a table with his shirt off rapping LL Cool J’s “I’m Bad.” Kim and her twin sister, Dawn, had run away from home; they moved in with Eminem and his mother when he was 15, and he began an on-and-off relationship with Kim in 1989. Their daughter, Hailie, was born on December 25, 1995; they married in 1999, divorcing in 2001. Although Eminem told Rolling Stone in 2002, “I would rather have a baby through my penis than get married again”, he and Kim briefly remarried in January 2006. He filed for divorce in early April, agreeing to joint custody of Hailie. He has also adopted Alaina, Dawn’s daughter and Whitney, Kim’s daughter from another relationship. In early 2010, Eminem denied tabloid reports that he and Kim had reconciled. He had legal custody of his younger half-brother, Nate Kane. In his 2014 song “Headlights”, Eminem apologized to, and reiterated his love for, his mother.