Sometimes you wonder where all the angst and anger is coming from in some music, and it’s usually rooted in a difficult childhood, poor family support and a fight against poverty. Surviving on the mean streets and trying to forge something positive from the manifold negative influences that seem bent on your destruction is certainly a recurring theme in Eminem’s music. According to Billboard Magazine, Eminem had "realised his musical ambitions were the only way to escape his unhappy life".
Eminem’s (or Marshall Mathers’) early years of struggle with an abusive mother, and his later often turbulent relationship with his wife Kim are now public knowledge and they loom large in his musical output. His music explodes volcanically from his personal experiences, and maybe it is a way of coming to terms with them. Certainly, nobody can doubt his sincerity in Eminem’s live performances, where he seems to be drawing energy from unresolved issues in his life.
Marshall Bruce Mathers, born in 1972 in Kansas City, was taken to Detroit at age 12, and this set a pattern of rootlessness as he and his mother were repeatedly evicted from their homes. Dropping out of school after ninth grade, his girlfriend Kim gave birth to a daughter in 1995 as Eminem continued to look for a record deal. He took second place at the Los Angeles Rap Olympics 1997 which, although disappointing to the young rapper, it worked in his favour as record producers from Interscope had watched his performance. Rap producer Dr Dre actually mounted a search for him after hearing him freestyling on the radio, and the two hit it off immediately. The first fruits of this labour were four songs that were incorporated into his first album, The Slim Shady LP. My Name Is and Guilty Conscience were huge hits.
The Marshall Mathers LP of 2000 achieved three Grammys and was the first ever rap Album of the Year, selling eight million copies in the States, and becoming the fastest-selling hip-hop solo album in US history. The Real Slim Shady, the first controversial single that spun off this album insulted celebrities, and the second, The Way I Am, concentrated on the pressures from his record company to sell more singles. Eminem tickets were in huge demand, and have continued to be in popular demand ever since.
Following more successful albums and singles, his career took a hiatus during the Eminem Anger Management tour of 2005, when he cancelled the European leg and announced that he was going into drug rehabilitation. Following his recovery his most recent single with Rihanna, Love the Way You Lie, from his seventh studio album Recovery, reached position 2 in the Billboard Hot 100 in early 2010, and he has since continued to tour.