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Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 10:35 GMT
Eminem: Courting controversy
Eminem's rapping style has made him a huge star
Controversial star Eminem's turbulent career and personal life have attracted both adulation and revulsion during his spell in the limelight.

His Texas Chainsaw Massacre act, which often kicksoff his live shows, typifies his knack for headline grabbing.

His musical career has gone from strength to strength, winning three Grammy awards in 2001.

But he has been banned from Sheffield University students' union, and was condemned by gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell as homophobic.

When he toured in Ontario, Canada, some politicians tried to ban him from the province, saying his lyrics promoted violence against women.

Born Marshall Bruce Mathers III in Kansas City on 17 October 1972, he spent his childhood flitting between there and Detroit, settling in Detroit when he was 12.
Switching schools every few months, the young Eminem found it hard to make friends and nurtured his talent for rapping to make himself heard in the classroom.

He eventually dropped out of full-time education and drifted in and out of menial jobs, but a desire to make music was the only thing that really stimulated him.

He persevered with his goal, and also married his wife, Kimberly.

On Christmas Day 1995, she gave birth to their daughter, Haile Jade, and a few months later Eminem released his debut album, Infinite.

Although criticised by many for being too derivative, it forced him to revise his approach.

Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?
"Infinite was me trying to figure out how I wanted my rap style to be, how I wanted to sound on the mic and present myself," he later explained.

"It was a growing stage....I had nothing to lose and everything to gain."

Far from sitting on his laurels, Eminem threw himself into his new project - which would eventually become The Slim Shady EP - and got his big break when he came second in the 1997 Rap Olympics in Los Angeles.

From then on, things moved at an electrifying pace.

Shortly after the release of the Slim Shady EP in 1998, hip hop legend and Eminem idol Dr Dre signed the 25-year-old up to his Aftermath label.

His Slim Shady LP went triple platinum after hitting number two in the US Billboard charts and went on to win a Grammy.

Success was to follow in the UK and across Europe, but his new-found popularity would, perhaps inevitably, lead to problems.


The controversial subject matter of his songs led to accusations of him being a misogynist.

His own mother launched a $10m lawsuit against him for using the lyrics "my mom smokes more dope than I do" on the hit My Name Is - a track which sees him wonder which Spice Girl he wants to "impregnate".

But he rejected his mother's offer to settle the lawsuit against him for $2m.
The rapper ponders his future in the dock
And Julie Bindel, founder of the action group Justice for Women and a researcher at the child and women abuse department at North London University, is not impressed either.

"He is misogynist scum who will influence some women and men," she told the Sunday Times on 4 February 2001.

"Rather than censor him, though, I wish someone who took offence at his lyrics would leave him in a coma."

Despite his critics, Eminem cleared possibly the biggest hurdle of all by overcoming the "Vanilla Ice syndrome" to become a white rapper respected in the black-dominated world of hip hop.

His single The Real Slim Shady and album The Marshall Mathers LP have proved huge hits on both sides of the Atlantic.

But his personal life has been turbulent, and in August, he filed for divorce from his wife, five weeks after she attempted suicide.

They later agreed to share custody of their five-year-old daughter, and agreed to get back together in December.

It seems that as long as Eminem is in the spotlight, he will attract both fame and criticism - a sure-fire way to keep his career on a high.

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