Eminem, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, 17 October 1973, Kansas City, Missouri, USA. This white rapper burst onto the US charts in 1999 with a controversial take on the horrorcore genre. Mathers endured an itinerant childhood, living with his mother in various states before eventually ending up in Detroit at the age of 12. Eminem began performing at age 14, performing raps in the basement of his high school friend's home. The two went under the names Manix and M&M (soon changed to Eminem), which Mathers took from his own initials. Due to the unavoidable racial boundaries that came with being a white rapper, he decided the easiest way to win over underground hip-hop audiences was to become a battle rapper and improv against other MCs in clubs. Although he wasn't immediately accepted, through time he became such a popular attraction that people would challenge him just to make a name for themselves.
He first joined the New Jacks, and then moved on to Soul Intent, who released Eminem's first recorded single in 1995. A rapper named Proof performed the B-side on the single and enjoyed working with Eminem so much that he asked him to start yet another group. Drafting in a few other friends, the group became known as D-12, a six-member crew that supported one another as solo artists more than they collaborated. The birth of Eminem's first child put his career on hold again as he started working in order to care for his family. This also instilled a bitterness that started to creep into his lyrics as he began to drag personal experiences into the open and make them the topic of his raps.
Although he's only been in the public eye since 1999, Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem) has crammed at least a decade's worth of career highs and lows into those few short, high-profile years. The Detroit-based Dr. Dre protégé has invoked the wrath of women and homosexuals with his offensive lyrics; become enemies with Moby, Everlast, Fred Durst, and Christina Aguilera; provided tabloids with plenty of gossip fodder regarding his personal life...and in the process become just about the biggest rock star on the planet. This is because Eminem isn't just about controversy and shock value: This often misunderstood major talent has actually given white rappers genuine credibility in this post-Vanilla Ice age with his string of dynamic hits (both solo and with his side group, D12), his plethora of Grammy nominations, his critically acclaimed film 8 Mile, and his three multiplatinum studio albums, which--once one gets past the hype and hullabaloo that surround them--are some of the most creative, original, and exciting releases of the rap genre (or any musical genre) in the past decade.