Eminem (born October 17, 1972 as Marshall Bruce Mathers III in St. Joseph, Missouri), also known as Slim Shady, is an American rapper, songwriter and music producer. He is a Grammy and Academy Award winner and, according to Billboard magazine, the most successful musician of the 2000s in the United States. His album The Eminem Show is the third best-selling album of the decade in the U.S., and The Marshall Mathers LP is the seventh best-selling album of the decade in the U.S. Worldwide, he has sold over 268 million records in his career to date, according to the Record Awards, making him one of the most successful individual performers of all time.
In 2011, the music magazine Rolling Stone called him the “King of Hip-Hop. Eminem is the owner of the music label Shady Records and a member of the hip-hop formations D12 and Bad Meets Evil. The name Eminem comes from the pronunciation of his initials “M & M” and is also spelled EMINƎM.
Eminem was born Marshall Bruce Mathers III in 1972 in St. Joseph, Missouri, where he also spent his first years of life. His parents Marshall Bruce Mathers II and Deborah “Debbie” Briggs married in 1972, but his father left the family when Eminem was three months old. According to Eminem, his mother, who was only 17 years old at birth, was a drug addict, violent, and also suffered (mentioned in the songs Cleanin’ Out My Closet, My Mom, and Baby) from Munchausen’s Surrogate Syndrome, a form of child abuse in which mothers invent and fake illnesses in their child. The family moved frequently, resulting in several school changes for the young Marshall Mathers. The latter, as “the new kid,” was often the victim of bullying at school – in early 1982, Marshall was in a coma for five days with bleeding on the brain after a particularly violent beating by a classmate. He also suffered temporary vision and hearing loss. Deborah Mathers sued the school, but the case was dropped a year later. At the age of 12, Mathers moved with his mother to Warren, a crime-ridden suburban community of Detroit, Michigan. Here he spent his youth as a white man in a neighborhood predominantly populated by African Americans.
Eminem’s half-uncle Ronald “Ronnie” Polkingharn, who was only a few months older than Eminem, got him interested in rap. The Beastie Boys and N.W.A. in particular became his musical role models. Under the pseudonym “M & M” Mathers began to rap at the age of 14 and often participated in freestyle battles at Osborn High School. Already there he was able to make a name for himself as an underground rapper. At the age of 15 he met his future wife Kimberly Ann Scott, called Kim. After repeating ninth grade twice due to poor grades and absences from class, Eminem dropped out of school at the age of 17. After high school, he earned money with various temporary jobs and frequently changed his apartment, mostly because he could not pay the rent.
In 1991, Mathers’ uncle Ronnie Polkingharn shot himself with a sawed-off shotgun. This tragic incident left a strong mark on Eminem, as his uncle had been a role model, father substitute and friend to him.