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Tuesday, 11 July, 2000, 18:16 GMT 19:16 UK
Eminem: The real Slim Shady
Eminem
Eminem's rapping style has made him a huge star
By BBC News Online's Chris Charles

Given his deprived background and the gangsta rap culture, it shouldn't really come as a surprise that Eminem has had his fair share of problems and critics.

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.
Eminem
Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

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.

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

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

Nothing to lose

"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.

Misogyny

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".
Eminem
The rapper ponders his future in the dock

Even his grandmother jumped on the bandwagon after learning how he planned to use the voice of his dead uncle in a song.

"He's changed for the worse. He talks filthy to me and is angry and disrespectful. I don't know what's gotten into him," she said, adding: "He's a bitter boy with sad songs who wants to make fame."

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 latest single The Real Slim Shady and album The Marshall Mathers LP have proved huge hits on both sides of the Atlantic and in an ideal world he would have everything to look forward to.

But life could never be that simple for Eminem.

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See also:

10 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Eminem wife's suicide bid
09 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Eminem faces new gun charges
07 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Rapper Eminem on gun charges
27 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Eminem's family feud continues
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