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Eminem

Eminem

Rap musician, producer

Although his message has not been popular with parents of teenagers across America, that has not stopped Eminem from earning sweeping popularity and building upon it. Though his lyrics can be gritty, racy, and loaded with violent overtones, fans of all races have responded to his anger, his expert rhymes, and his unusually personal brand of hip-hop music. Eminem's career grew more rapidly than he could have predicted, and his rise to fame has been marked by a severe level of controversy.

Eminem has depicted his own life experiences in his music. In a July 1999 article for the Washington Post, Alona Wartofsky summarized his appeal when she commented that "a large part of Eminem's meteoric rise can be explained by the appeal of being profoundly expletived up. Both Eminem and his alter ego, Slim Shady, represent the perennial loser, the class clown who's going nowhere fast. The guy who gets beat up in the bathroom, keeps flunking the same grade and can't even keep a $5.50-an-hour job. ...It's not just his white skin and bleached blond hair that set him apart from the hip-hop pack. Unlike most rappers, he's harshly self-deprecating." White kids who were listening to rap before he came on the scene began to listen even harder when Eminem appeared.

Marshall Mathers III was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on October 17, 1974, and spent his early childhood between there and Detroit. He was raised by Debbie Mathers-Briggs, a single mother. Mathers never knew his father, although his mother contended that the two of them were married at the time of Mathers's birth. Aggravated by having to move and by difficulties making friends, Mathers retreated into television and comic books. He attended Lincoln Junior High School and Osborn High School, where he started listening to LL Cool J and 2 Live Crew. He made friends, and went up against other rappers in contests, quickly gaining a reputation for his skill at rhyming. Mathers failed the ninth grade and eventually dropped out of school before getting a diploma. While working odd jobs, Mathers also worked on the art of rapping. He told Rap Pages in 1999, "I tried to go back to school five years ago, but I couldn't do it. I just wanted to rap and be a star."

Rose Through Underground Ranks

Working with different groups that included Basement Productions, the New Jacks, and Sole Intent, Mathers finally went solo in 1997. The album, Infinite, was released through FBT Productions, a local Detroit company. The local hip-hop community did not take to him, but he ignored the criticism and tirelessly promoted himself through radio stations and freestyle competitions across the country. He was finally honored with a mention in the Source 's key column, "Unsigned Hype," and by the end of the year he had won the 1997 Wake Up Show Freestyle Performer of the Year award from Los Angeles disc jockeys Sway and Tech. Mathers also took second place in Rap Sheet magazine's "Rap Olympics," an annual freestyle competition.

His Slim Shady LP in early 1998 not only made him an underground star, it also got the attention of the famed Dr. Dre, the president of Aftermath Entertainment. Dr. Dre signed Mathers to his label, and within an hour after their meeting, the two were reportedly working on Eminem's "My Name Is" single. When Slim Shady finally came out, it debuted as number three on the Billboard album chart. Eminem also appeared on underground MC Shabam Sahdeeq's "Five Star Generals" single, Kid Rock's Devil Without a Cause, and on other rap releases. His songs depicted rape, violence, and drug use, and they horrified some people. Some of his lyrics were directed at his own mother, and at the mother of his three-year-old daughter. The song "97 Bonnie and Clyde" has Mathers fantasizing about killing the mother of his child.

Slim Shady Caused an Uproar

Writing for USA Today, Edna Gunderson reviewed the album that was causing the uproar. "The first release on Dr. Dre's Aftermath label is a marvel of entertaining contradictions," she wrote. "The white rapper ... vacillates between rage and apathy in razor-sharp tunes that visit a host of suburban miseries and comedies. He's unquestionably offensive, but the antidote for that venom can be found in the music's stinging humor and tight grooves." Eminem's Slim Shady LP took home a Grammy Award on February 23, 2000, as the Best Rap Album of the Year for 1999. His solo, "My Name Is," won the award for Best Rap Solo Performance.

Mathers defended himself and his lyrics to those who loathed his message, but also to those who were still not prepared to welcome a white rap artist into a field that had been the domain of blacks since its beginnings. Mathers told Source, "I do feel like I'm coming from a standpoint where people don't realize there are a lot of poor white people. He went on to say, "I'm white in a music started by black people. I'm not ignorant to the culture and I'm not trying to take anything away from the culture. But no one has a choice where they grew up or what color they are. If you're a rich kid or a ghetto kid you have no control over your circumstances. The only control you have is to get out of your situation or stay in it." Perhaps because of that, his music resonated with teens worldwide, regardless of their race or economic status.

Eminem's music was certainly unpopular with many people. In the spring of 1999 Billboard 's editor-in-chief Timothy White accused Eminem and the music industry promoting him of "exploiting the world's misery." The harshest criticism came in the form of a lawsuit filed by his own mother. In 1999 Mathers-Briggs filed a lawsuit in a Michigan Circuit Court, charging that her son had made "defamatory comments about her in interviews, including descriptions of her as 'pill-popping' and 'lawsuit-happy' ... [and] claiming emotional distress, humiliation, and damages that included the loss of her mobile home in the summer of 1999," according to Carla Hay, writing in Billboard. Although the outcome of the lawsuit was still pending, Paul Rosenberg, Eminem's attorney, issued a statement saying, "The lawsuit ... is merely the result of a lifelong strained relationship between [Eminem] and his mother. Regardless, it is still painful to be sued by your mother, and therefore the lawsuit will only be responded to through legal channels."

For the Record . . .

Born Marshall Mathers III on October 17, 1974, in Kansas City, MO; married Kim (divorced, April 2001); children: Hailie Jade, born December 25, 1995.

Worked with groups such as Basement Productions, the New Jacks, and Sole Intent, before going solo with the release of Infinite, 1997; released Slim Shady, 1998; released The Marshall Mathers LP, 2000; released The Eminem Show and starred in and performed music for film 8 Mile, 2002; released Encore, 2004.

Awards: Grammy Awards include Best Rap Album of the Year (Slim Shady), Best Rap Solo Performance ("My Name Is"), 1999; Best Rap Album (The Marshall Mathers LP), Best Rap Solo Performance (The Real Slim Shady), 2000; Best Short Form Music Video ("Without Me"), Best Rap Album (The Eminem Show), 2002; Best Male Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Song (both for "Lose Yourself"), 2003.

Addresses: Record company—Interscope Records, 2220 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404. Website—Eminem Official Website: http://www.eminem.com.

Eminem's American tour that began in the spring of 1999 met with mixed reviews. According to Jon Dolan in Spin in August of 1999, the tour did not go well in many cities. Fans disappointed at his mere 25-minute stage performance booed him offstage. And a date in San Francisco was "cut even shorter," Dolan noted, "after he leapt into the crowd to beat down a heckler." Yet Dolan also noted that "he delivered Motor City madness that would do Ted Nugent proud ... appropriately ... Slim was playing for his peeps—young, Midwestern hip-hop kids from urban dead zones and their first-ring suburbs."

As he continued to plan for the debut of his album Marshall Mathers LP in the spring of 2000, controversy continued to rage. From his fall 1999 tour of Europe, tongues were still wagging with criticism. In Melody Maker, British writer Peter Robinson remarked that "by far the most distressing thing about the Slim Shady LP is how seductive it is—largely due to Dr Dre's production work, it captivates and thrills, and this is an unavoidably amazing body of work. There are tracks here 10 times better than 'My Name Is,' hence the generous mark at the end of this review. But the spite, the sheer nastiness, is revolting."

Shared Personal Demons Through Music

The music Eminem released after the turn of the millennium gave continuing evidence of the rapper's talent. Although he continued to stir up plenty of controversy, he also managed to take his career to a higher level of popularity by becoming almost a mainstream figure as his career progressed. More than any other rapper, white or black, Eminem projected his own psychodramas onto a large musical canvas—and his personal demons were apparently shared by millions of music buyers all over the world.

The controversial phase of Eminem's career peaked with the release of The Marshall Mathers LP. The album contained "Kim," a violent rant directed at the rapper's wife that culminated in a fantasy of her murder. The song drove Kim Mathers to a suicide attempt, and enraged listeners like Lynne Cheney, wife of United States vice president Dick Cheney, who told People that Eminem "promotes violence of the most degrading kind against women." Eminem also angered homosexuals with the album's numerous anti-gay slurs ("Pants or dress—hate fags? The answer's yes," Eminem rapped). The rapper added fuel to the fire with several brushes with the law that almost landed him in prison.

Yet Eminem succeeded in dousing many controversies just as it seemed they might get out of hand. He invited openly gay rock star Elton John to perform with him at the 2001 Grammy Awards, and their duet on Eminem's "Stan," a chilling song about a crazed fan, knocked the furor over his anti-gay raps off the radar screen. Eminem and Kim Mathers divorced amicably in 2001. They shared custody of their daughter, Hailie Jade, who would later become a central topic in several Eminem hits.

The problems of Eminem's personal life continued to provide subject matter for his music, and his next album, 2002's The Eminem Show, contained "Cleaning Out My Closet," a virulent expression of frustration against the artist's mother—and a song that became a massive hit, appealing to a vast cross-section of listeners who had struggled with familial conflicts. Eminem poked fun at his own intensity with the title of his own "Anger Management Tour," and some critics hailed a new maturity in the rapper's writing. Pointing to Eminem's unique triple identity, comprising real-life person Marshall Mathers, entertainer Eminem, and thug Slim Shady, Time noted that on The Eminem Show, "the three personalities fit together like a set of Russian nesting dolls."

Rode 8 Mile to Greater Fame

Eminem's rise to respectability continued with the release of the film 8 Mile in late 2002. A fictionalized story of Eminem's own life, the film paired the rapper with actress Brittany Murphy, and included depictions of the rap duels in which Eminem had engaged as a young man. Becoming both a critical and financial success, 8 Mile spawned a major hit and double Grammy winner, "Lose Yourself," and inspired speculation about the charismatic performer's chances for a future movie career.

The year 2003 saw the rapper once again enmeshed in controversy, after Source magazine released a tape of an early Eminem recording in which he made negative remarks about African-American women after breaking up with a black girlfriend. Eminem apologized for what he said was a youthful mistake. He returned to the studio in 2004 and released Encore, a recording that contained attacks on everyone from Michael Jackson to Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of the All Music Guide opined that "it sounds as if Eminem is coasting, resting on his laurels, and never pushing himself into interesting territory."

But Encore sold well and generated a hit single, "Just Lose It." Eminem also waded into political waters for the first time with "Mosh," a protest song that attacked President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. Whether Eminem continued to explore political material in a deeply divided America, pursued a film career, or shepherded the careers of other Detroit hip-hop artists, his place in popular culture seemed assured, and he was no longer an outsider.

Selected discography

Infinite, FBT Productions, 1997.

The Slim Shady LP, Aftermath/Interscope, 1998.

Just Don't Give a F***, Aftermath/Interscope, 1998.

The Marshall Mathers LP, Aftermath/Interscope, 2000.

The Eminem Show, Interscope, 2002.

(With others) 8 Mile (soundtrack), Interscope, 2002.

Encore, Interscope, 2004.

Sources

Periodicals

Atlanta Constitution, April 20, 1999; August 1, 1999.

Billboard, October 2, 1999.

Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, May 2001, p. 18.

Los Angeles Times, December 26, 1999.

Melody Maker (London, England), May 1, 1999; August 14, 1999; November 10-16, 1999; November 17-23, 1999.

New York Times, August 22, 1999; September 11, 1999; November 14, 1999.

New York Times Upfront, December 13, 2002, p. 22.

Newsweek, November 11, 2002, p. 72.

People, July 24, 2000, p. 139; September 24, 2000, p. 148; December 25, 2000, p. 64; December 13, 2004, p. 41.

Rolling Stone, April 29, 1999; May 27, 1999; December 16-23, 1999.

Spin, August 1999.

Teen People, May 15, 2001, p. 34.

Television Week, November 1, 2004, p. 2.

Time, June 21, 1999; October 4, 1999; May 29, 2000, p. 73; June 15, 2002, p. 66; January 12, 2004, p. 74.

USA Today, December 28, 1999.

Vanity Fair, December 2004, p. 370.

Video Business, March 17, 2003, p. 56.

Washington Post, July 27, 1999.

Online

Eminem Official Website, http://www.eminem.com (April 19, 2005).

EminemWorld, http://eminemworld.com (April 14, 2005).

—Jane Spear andJames M. Manheim

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"Eminem." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Eminem." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/eminem-0

Eminem

EMINEM

Born: Marshall Bruce Mathers III; Kansas City, Missouri, 17 October 1974

Genre: Rap

Best-selling album since 1990: The Eminem Show (2002)

Hit songs since 1990: "The Real Slim Shady," "My Name Is," "Without Me"

A number of rap artists were both controversial and commercially successful throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. None, however, were as controversial or as successful as Detroit's Marshall Mathers, a.k.a. Eminem. A brash lyricist unafraid to explore and expose his conflicted psyche, Eminem blended elements of explicit humor, misogyny, self-doubt, violence, rage, and homophobia into an undeniably catchy, million-selling formula. Along the way, the bleach-blonde, white rapper went from social pariah to Grammy and Oscar-nominated mainstream music star, actor, and producer.


Breaking Through

Marshall Mathers III was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1974 and was raised by his mother, Debbie Mathers-Briggs, who later became fodder for some of his harshest songs. An outcast whose transient lifestyle had made it difficult to make friends, Mathers immersed himself in the cadences of hip-hop, gaining respect for his rhyming skills even as he was flunking out of ninth grade because of his poor attendance record.

The budding rapper worked with a number of local rap crews (Basement Productions, the New Jacks, Sole Intent), going solo in 1997 with the poorly received Infinite album, released through the local FBT Productions label. Though he was ignored on his local scene, the rapper began to gain notice for his skills at freestyle battlinga method of rapping that involves the spontaneous creation of lyrics during a "battle" with another rapper in which each tries to top the other's lyrics with creative insults and rhymes. His notoriety expanded with a second place finish in Rap Sheet magazine's 1997 freestyle competition, the "Rap Olympics."

The famed rapper/producer Dr. Dre caught wind of Mathers, rapping as his alter ego, Eminem, and was sufficiently impressed by Eminem's mini album, The Slim Shady EP (1997), that he signed him to his Aftermath Entertainment label. By now Mathers had created two distinct characters for his rapping, Eminem and Slim Shady, both of them laced with a dark, often violent and antisocial edge.

Dre famously commented that he did not know or care that the rapper was white, only that he had considerable skills. Rappers had been engaging in violent, misogynist street reportage for more than a decade, but Eminem's resulting album, The Slim Shady LP, arrived amidst a firestorm of controversy about its lyrical content.

With songs depicting date rape ("Guilty Conscience"), drug use, violence toward women ("Role Model"), and the murder of his daughter's mother ("'97 Bonnie & Clyde"), the album drew fire for its content, while some critics praised Eminem for his willingness to express his rage, disillusionment, and frustration amid the chaos of his life. In a famous essay late Billboard magazine editor-in-chief Timothy White targeted Eminem and his label for "exploiting the world's misery." Though mostly dismissive of the criticism, Mathers claimed in some interviews that he was simply voicing the deviant thoughts of his characters.


Fame, Fortune, and Litigation

The album also raised the ire of Eminem's estranged mother, who filed a $10 million defamation suit in September 1999 against her son for portraying her as a "lawsuit-happy" drug abuser. Though he won a Best New Artist award at MTV's Video Music Awards in September 1999 and that summer married his on-and-off again sweetheart, Kim, the mother of his daughter, the good times did not last. In June 2000 Eminem pleaded not guilty to felony assault charges stemming from a Michigan bar brawl. A month later Kim Mathers attempted suicide and soon filed for divorce.

Following the example of Eminem's mother, his estranged wife filed a $10 million defamation suit against the rapper. In another example of his turbulent home life, Eminem and Kim withdrew their divorce petition in December 2000, only to file divorce papers again in March 2001.

Amid the chaos, Eminem released his second album, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000), which debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and garnered three Grammy nominations. If his debut caused controversy, Eminem's second album poured gasoline on the fire. Musically ambitious and lyrically sophisticated, songs such as "Kill You" ("Slut, think I won't choke no whore until the vocal cords won't work no more?") and "Kim" were laced with bilious lyrics aimed at women and homosexuals, with the threats delivered in a sometimes comical, often angry voice. Women's groups and gay rights groups picketed and spoke out against the rapper, protesting his lyrics.

A groundswell of critical praise for Eminem began to gel around songs such as "Stan," a touching, eerie story/song about an obsessed fan set to the haunting, acoustic strains sampled from a soulful ballad by singer Dido. A commentary on the perils of fame and the danger of hero worship, the song paints a wholly different picture of Eminem: the sensitive artist spooked by the lengths his fans will go to emulate him. Amid furious protests from gay activists, Eminem performed "Stan" on the 2001 Grammy telecast as a duet with the openly gay singer Elton John; they ended the song with a warm embrace. The rapper won the second of three consecutive rap album of the year awards during the broadcast.

After releasing an album with his Detroit posse, D12, Devil's Night, Eminem recorded his third album, The Eminem Show, which debuted at number one in May 2002. Taking a stronger hand in the production of his songs, Eminem shows a musical dexterity on the album, mixing in elements of classic rock and pop while retaining his me-against-the-world posture on songs such as "White America" and the album's smash single, "Without Me." Still relying on his tortured personal life for inspiration ("Cleaning out My Closet"), Eminem again drew praise from critics for his lyrical prowess and musical creativity.

The soundtrack to his well-received big screen acting debut, the loosely autobiographical 8 Mile, was also a smash hit, selling more than 5 million copies and launching the biggest single of his career, "Lose Yourself," a gripping story about the struggle to make it in the rap world.

Vilified, protested, and wildly praised, Eminem has undeniably been one of the most riveting forces in contemporary popular music. With his everyman persona, his unchecked id, and his poetic writing skills, he gained respect from both the underground rap world and the mainstream media.

Spot Light: The Slim Shady LP

Eminem was introduced to the world with the humorous single, "My Name Is," a nasal, comedic performance in which the rapper feigned violence on himself, expressed an interest in impregnating a Spice Girl, and joked about overdosing on drugs. Despite the explicit content, the song from The Slim Shady LP was a huge hit but hardly indicative of the rest of the album's content. "Guilty Conscience" featured jokes about robbing convenience stores and date-raping underage girls, couched in terms of conflicted sociopaths whose good and evil sides are at war. Even though women's groups lambasted the rapper for the violence of songs such as "'97 Bonnie & Clyde" (the album's cover featured an image from that song in which a woman's feet protrude from the trunk of a car as Eminem and his daughter peer over a dock), others were impressed by the self-deprecating nature of tracks such as "Rock Bottom," in which Eminem raps about being so poor he does not know how he will afford diapers for his daughter, Hailie. With classic production from his mentor, Dr. Dre, on the album's two singles, The Slim Shady LP introduced a stirring new lyrical voice.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Infinite (FBT Productions, 1996); The Slim Shady EP (Web, 1997); The Slim Shady LP (Interscope/Aftermath, 1999); The Marshall Mathers LP (Interscope/Aftermath, 2000); The Eminem Show (Interscope/Aftermath, 2002).

SELECTIVE FILMOGRAPHY:

8 Mile (2002).


gil kaufman

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"Eminem." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Eminem." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/eminem

Eminem

Eminem

Hip hop, rap artist

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

If his message is misunderstood by parents of teenagers across America, that is not stopping Eminem from earning sweeping popularity. Though his lyrics can be gritty, racy, and carry violent overtones, fans of all races have responded to his honest anger. Eminems Slim Shady LP took home a Grammy Award on February 23, 2000 as the Best Rap Album of the year for 1999. His solo, My Name Is, won the award of Best Rap Solo Performance. For a young man who grew up in a less than ideal setting in suburban Detroit, fame arrived after several years of hard work, and, as he said, paying his dues.

Eminem reflects his own harsh life experiences in his music, experiences common to many teenagers. In a July 1999 article for the Washington Post, Alona Wartofsky summarized his appeal when she commented that a large part of Eminems meteoric rise can be explained by the appeal of being profoundly expletived up. Both Eminem and his alter ego, Slim Shady, represent the perennial loser, the class clown whos going nowhere fast. The guy who gets beat up in the bathroom, keeps flunking the same grade and cant even keep a $5.50-an-hour job. So he checks outblows off school and gets wasted with whatever drug he can get his hands on. Its not just his white skin and bleached blond hair that set him apart from the hip-hop pack. Unlike most rappers, hes harshly self-deprecating. If other white kids were listening to rap before he came on the scene, they were listening even harder when Eminem appeared.

Marshall Mathers III was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on October 17, 1974, and spent his early childhood between there and Detroit, primarily in Macomb County, just northeast of the city. He was raised by a single mother, Debbie Mathers-Briggs. When he was 12, they settled on the east side of Detroit permanently, but life got no easier. Mathers never knew his father, although his mother contended that the two of them were married at the time of Mathers birth. Aggravated by having to move and difficulties making friends, Mathers retreated into television and comic books. He attended Lincoln Junior High School and Osbourne High School where he started listening to LL Cool J and the 2 Live Crew. He made friends, and went off against other rappers. He quickly gained a reputation of some notoriety at his skill for rhyming. Mathers did skip too much school, and failed the ninth grade. Eventually, he dropped out of school before getting a diploma. Working odd jobs, Mathers worked on his craft, his art of rapping. He told Rap Pages in 1999 that, I tried to go back to school five years ago, but I couldnt do it. I just wanted to rap and be a star.

Mathers did continue his rapping. Working with different groups that included Basement Productions, the New

For the Record

Born Marshall Mathers III on October 17, 1974, in Kansas City, MO; married: wife Kim; children: daughter, Hailie Jade, born December 25, 1995.

Has worked with groups such as Basement Productions, the New Jacks, and Sole Intent before going solo with the release of Infinite, 1997; released Slim Shady, 1998; released The Marshall Mathers LP, 2000.

Awards: Grammy Awards for Best Rap Album of the Year, Slim Shady; Best Rap Solo Performance, My Name Is, 1999.

Addresses: Interscope Records, 10900 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1230, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Website http://www.eminem.com.

Jacks and Sole Intent, he finally went solo in 1997. His album, Infinite, was released through FBT Productions, a local Detroit company. The local hiphop community did not take to him, but he ignored the criticism and tirelessly promoted himself through radio stations and freestyle competitions across the country. People started taking notice. He was honored with a mention in the Sources key column, Unsigned Hype. By the end of the year he won the 1997 Wake Up Show Freestyle Performer of the Year from Los Angeles disc jockeys, Sway and Tech. Mathers took second place in Rap Sheet magazines Rap Olympics, an annual freestyle competition.

His Slim Shady EP in early 1998 not only made him an underground star, it also got the attention of the famed Dr. Dre, creator of The Chronic and N.W.A., and president of Aftermath Entertainment. Dr. Dre was so impressed that he signed Mathers to his label. When Slim Shady LP finally came out, it debuted at number three on the Billboard Album Chart. He also had been invited to appear on underground MC Shabam Sahdeeqs Five Star Generals single, Kid Rocks Devil Without a Cause and other rap releases in the interim. His songs depicted rape, violence and drug use. They horrified some people, to be sure. Some of his lyrics were even directed at his own mother, as well as the mother of his daughter who was three at the time of the songs release. The song, 97 Bonnie and Clyde, has Mathers fantasizing about killing the mother of his child. Writing for USA Today, Edna Gunderson reviewed the album that was causing the uproar. The first release on Dr. Dres Aftermath label is a marvel of entertaining contradictions. The white rapper kicks himself mercilessly on one track, lashes out against the cruel world in the next, then vacillates between rage and apathy in razor-sharp tunes that visit a host of suburban miseries and comedies. Hes unquestionably offensive, but the antidote for that venom can be found in the musics stinging humor and tight grooves.

Mathers defended himself and his lyrics to those who not only loathed his message, but also those who were still not prepared to welcome a white rap artist into a field that seemed to be the domain of blacks since its beginnings. Mathers told Source that, I do feel like Im coming from a standpoint where people dont realize there are a lot of poor white people. Rap music kept my mind off all the bullshit I had to go through. He went on to say that, Im white in a music started by black people. Im not ignorant to the culture and Im not trying to take anything away from the culture. But no one has a choice where they grew up or what color they are. If youre a rich kid or a ghetto kid you have no control over your circumstances. The only control you have is to get out of your situation or stay in it. Maybe because of that, his music resonated with teens especially, all over America and the world, no matter what their race or economic status.

His music was certainly not popular with some people. In the spring of 1999, Billboard editor-in-chief, Timothy White accused Eminem and the music industry promoting him of exploiting the worlds misery, in an editorial. The harshest criticism came in the form of a lawsuitfrom his own mother! On September 17, 1999, Mathers-Briggs filed a lawsuit in Macomb County, Michigan Circuit Court, charging that her son, the rapper, made defamatory comments about her in interviews, including descriptions of her as pill-popping and lawsuit happy,claiming emotional distress, humiliation, and damages that included the loss of her mobile home in the summer of 1999, according to Carla Hay, writing in Billboard. Although the outcome of the lawsuit was still pending, Paul Rosenberg, Eminems attorney issued a statement saying, Eminems life is reflected in his music. Everything he said can be verified as true-the truth is an absolute defense to a claim of defamation. The lawsuit does not come as a surprise to Eminemhis mother has been threatening to sue him since the success of his single, My Name Is. It is merely the result of a lifelong strained relationship between him and his mother. Regardless, it is still painful to be sued by your mother, and therefore the lawsuit will only be responded to through legal channels.

Eminems United States tour that began in the spring of 1999 met with a lot of kudoes and cajoles. According to Jon Dolan in Spin in August of 1999, that tour did not go too well in most cities. Fans disappointed at his mere 25-minute stage performance booed him offstage. A date in San Francisco was cut even shorter, Dolan noted, after he leapt into the crowd to beat down a heckler. Actor Dustin Hoffman surprised a lot of concertgoers and the star himself during the Los Angeles performance when he appeared onstage, wrapped up like the mummy on the cover of Slim Shady LP. Yet Dolan also noted that, he delivered Motor City madness that would do Ted Nugent proud appropriately Slim was playing for his peepsyoung, Midwestern hip-hop kids from urban dead zones and their first-ring suburbs.

As he continued to plan for the debut of his latest album in the spring of 2000, Marshall Mathers LP, the controversy continued to rage. From his fall 1999 tour of Europe, tongues were still wagging with criticism. British writer, Peter Robinson, in Melody Maker, had said that, By far the most distressing thing about the Slim Shady LP is how seductive it islargely due to Dr Dres production work, it captivates and thrills, and this is an unavoidably amazing body of work. There are tracks here 10 times better than My Name Is, hence the generous mark at the end of this review. But the spite, the sheer nastiness, is revolting. But is it funny? In an interview for Melody Maker later, in November of 1999, Robinson posed the question to Mathers that, Does the fact that you made a success of the album entirely negate the principle of being an anti-hero? Kind of, responded Mathers. Me rappin about shootin up with heroin and bein broke and this and that, its like a pun on the album. Its like, my family and people around me always told me that I would grow up to be nothing and my teachers in school and everyone said it. I dropped out of high school, I failed ninth grade three times, I couldnt keep a job, people said that I wouldnt amount to anything. And I portray myself as the biggest loser in the world. Look at me now.

Whatever else Mathers might project, his affection and love for his daughter Hailie Jade, born on Christmas Day in 1995 when he was only 21 himself, is clear. She lives in Detroit, but sometimes accompanies him on tour. Mathers and his daughters mother, Kim, spent most of their eight-year relationship breaking up and making up. He says that while his daughter has listened to the album with the song about him killing her mother, and loves it, she does not yet understand it. When she gets old enough, Im going to explain it to her, he says. Ill let her know that Mommy and Daddy werent getting along at the time. None of it was to be taken literally.

Dr. Dre commented to Rolling Stone that If he remains the same person that walked into the studio with me that first day, he will be larger than Michael Jackson. For a person still in his mid-twenties, who was also named Best New Artist by MTV during their awards in September of 1999, that is a lot to live up to.

Selected discography

Infinite, FBT Productions, 1997.

The Slim Shady LP, Aftermath/lnterscope, 1998.

Just Dont Give a F***, Aftermath/lnterscope, 1998.

The Marshall Mathers LP, Aftermath/lnterscope, 2000.

Sources

Periodicals

The Atlanta Constitution, (Georgia) Apr. 20, 1999; Aug. 1, 1999.

Billboard, Oct. 2, 1999.

The Los Angeles Times, Dec. 26, 1999.

Melody Maker, (London) May 1, 1999; Aug. 14, 1999; Nov. 10-16, 1999; Nov. 17-23, 1999.

The New York Times, Aug. 22, 1999; Sept. 11, 1999; Nov. 14, 1999.

Rolling Stone, Apr. 29, 1999; May 27, 1999; Dec. 16-23, 1999.

Spin, Aug. 1999.

Time, June 21, 1999; Oct. 4, 1999.

USA Today, Dec. 28, 1999.

The Washington Post, July 27, 1999.

Online

Official Eminem website, http://www.eminem.com (April 2000).

EminemWorld, http://eminemworld.com (April 2000).

Jane Spear

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