“And get that motivation to not give up, and not be a quitter, No matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face, and collapse” (Mathers).
Does this sound like the words of a leader? Marshall Mathers, otherwise known as Eminem, on November 12, 1996, changed the rap world forever. Eminem, the man who George Bush once called, “the most dangerous threat to American children since polio,” is a leader nonetheless (Eminem: Unlikely Leader). Not every leader has to change the world like Oprah or Rosa Parks. Not every leader has to appeal to everyone, and some people have to have a different outlook for their point to make sense. In Determining the effects Emenem has had on today’s society, it is necessary to look at his early life, musical life, and his life now.
Eminem was born Marshall Bruce Mathers III on October 17, 1972 in Saint Joseph, Missouri, the only child of Deborah Nelson Mathers-Briggs and Marshall Bruce Mathers, Jr. Deborah was only 15 when Marshall was born and his father abandoned the family when Marshall was 18 months old. Solely his mother in poverty raised him. By the age of 12, Mathers and his mother had moved between various cities and towns in Missouri, before they settled in Warren, Michigan. Mathers never spent more than three months at a time in one school, due to bullying. After failing the ninth grade for three times in a row, he quit school, but it is noted that he does not consider himself stupid and does not advise that people should follow his example. On December 25,1995, with long time girlfriend Kim Scott, his daughter, Hailie Jade Scott was born. Having nothing to lose at all, flat broke and not knowing where he would be living the next week, Marshall set out to rant about life in general, the set quickly caught the ear of hip-hop underground.
Being a rap fan for most of his life, Marshall began rapping at the early age of four. Rhyming words together, battling schoolmates in the lunchroom brought joy to what was otherwise a painful existence. At the age of 14, he began to get very serious about his rapping but it wasn’t until he was 17 that he actually made a name for himself, becoming M&M, which he would later respell as “Eminem.” Being rejected by most fellow rappers because of his race, Marshall grew an anger that flows through his music to this day. Half the people that have heard his music call it nothing but profanity, but he just says what everyone else is to scared too. Forcing himself on radio shows, freestyle battles, Marshall threw himself head first into the rap game. Being turned down left and right he had to literally fight to make things happen for him. His very first album was titled “Infinite” and, while the album sold less than a thousand copies, it was the gearing up stages for the rapper who later became a millionaire. What came out of this was the Slim Shady EP (single); the early work for the later Dr. Dre revised Slim Shady LP (long play). Down to nearly his last dime, he went into the 1997 Rap Olympics in Los Angeles, basically hoping to win the $1,500 cash price, which he and his family badly needed. After battling for an hour and throwing back every race diss thrown at him, Marshall made it to second place losing in a slip up. Furious that he had lost, Marshall did not even notice that he had been spotted. In the crowd were a few producers from Interscope, and they were handed a copy of the “Infinite” tape by way of a demo. Dr. Dre got to hear it, and eventually tracked him down. The two instantly hit it off, recording four songs in their first six hours of working – three that made it to his first LP. After the album was finished, Dr. Dre asked Marshall to come work with him on his new album. He helped produce several tracks and was on the best songs of the album. Mathers did not except anyone to just give him anything. He knew that whatever he wanted he had to fight for, and everything that he had earned he went through blood, sweat, and tears to get.
The start of 2000 showed really just how well Eminem was doing when he was nominated for 2 Brit Awards, won 2 Grammy Awards for Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Album and won another 4 awards – The Online Hip-Hop Award for Best Artist Web Site, Best New Artist, Hottest Music Video and a Detroit Music Award for Outstanding National Album. He would now release his next LP “The Marshall Mathers LP” which flew off the shelves selling over 1.7 Million copies in the first week making a new record for a solo artist. This album did not come without any controversy. His mother filed a defamation lawsuit against him for 1 million dollars, which would end up being dismissed and accusations of homophobia and sexism mostly centering on the songs “Kill You” and “Kim” would be an ongoing battle over Eminem’s lyrics even today. Within a month “The Marshall Mathers LP” went five times platinum and topped the pop LP charts for eight weeks, the R&B LP charts for 4 weeks and the internet album charts for two weeks. At the end of the year “The Marshall Mathers LP” went seven times platinum and was recognized as the second biggest selling LP in the United States with sales of over 7.9 million copies. In 2001 “The Marshall Mathers LP” went eight times Platinum and Eminem released his next LP, “The Eminem Show” which sold over 1.3 Million copies in the first week and went four times Platinum within two months by the end of the year “The Eminem Show” was the top selling LP of the year with over 7.6 million sales. He would now go into the movies and started filming “8 Mile” which pulled in $54 Million in the first weekend after it’s release in October. Eminem would then go on to release a further two LP’s, “Encore” and “Curtain Call” and would be presented with tons of awards for his music.
Today most could say Eminem is probably one of the greatest rappers in the game. He dose not just rap about “bitches and hoes” and “getting money” like other rappers, but about his life experiences and the controversy with his music. Despite the controversy he sold millions of records around the world, and no; he is not a “wigger,” he is not trying to act black, he just raps. Who ever said that only black people could rap? Eminem has earned the respect of millions. Looking at it from a different point of view one could say it is like Jim Braddock in Cinderella Man. Braddock starts fighting again to support his family during the depression, because it is all he knows. He had nothing else to lose he was broken-down, beaten-up and out-of-luck. He had only one fight at first, one opportunity. He ended up losing, but he did not just lose he lost with pride he earned respect. Giving up was not an option. After that one fight more opportunities came about, and this forty-year-old man ended up coming out on top of the fighting industry. Eminem came from nothing and paved his own way for success. Irony at its finest, a white person ruling a predominantly black industry, just like an old man ruling an industry manly led by younger men. People can say Jim Braddock was a leader but then they will say Eminem is not. They were both working to supporting their family, but they took different approaches toward accomplishing it. They both did what they knew how.
“Eminem: Unlikely leader.” Military Photos. Net. 29 Oct.2004. Online
Mathers, Marshall. “Till I Collapse.” The Eminem Show. 2002. CD