Eminem is the best-selling artist of the 2000s in the United States. Throughout his career, he has had 10 number-one albums on the Billboard 200 and five number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. With more than 47.4 million albums and 107.5 million singles sold in the U.S. and 220 million records globally, he is among the world’s best-selling artists of all time and is consistently cited as one of the greatest and most influential artists in any genre. He is the only artist to have eight albums consecutively debut at number one on the Billboard 200. Rolling Stone ranked him 83rd on its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, calling him the “King of Hip Hop”.
After his debut album Infinite (1996) and then Slim Shady EP (1997), Eminem signed with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment and subsequently achieved mainstream popularity in 1999 with The Slim Shady LP, which earned him his first Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. His next two releases, 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP and 2002’s The Eminem Show, were worldwide successes, with each being certified diamond in U.S. sales and both winning Best Rap Album Grammy Awards—making Eminem the first artist to win the award for three consecutive LPs. They were followed by Encore in 2004, another critical and commercial success. Eminem went on hiatus after touring in 2005, releasing Relapse in 2009 and Recovery in 2010. Both won Grammy Awards and Recovery was the best-selling album of 2010 worldwide, the second time he had the international best-selling album of the year (after The Eminem Show). Eminem’s eighth album, 2013’s The Marshall Mathers LP, won two Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Album; it expanded his record for the most wins in that category and his Grammy total to 15. In 2017, he released his ninth studio album, Revival.
In addition to his solo career, Eminem is an original member of the Midwest hip hop groups Soul Intent and D12. He is also known for his collaborations with fellow Detroit-based rapper Royce da 5’9″; the two are collectively known as Bad Meets Evil. Eminem has developed other ventures, including Shady Records, with manager Paul Rosenberg, which helped launch the careers of artists such as 50 Cent. Eminem has also established his own channel, Shade 45, on Sirius XM Radio. In November 2002, he starred in the hip hopfilm 8 Mile, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Lose Yourself”, becoming the first rap artist to ever win the award. Eminem has made cameo appearances in the films The Wash (2001), Funny People (2009), and The Interview (2014), and the television series Entourage (2010).
Early career, Infinite and family struggles
As Eminem’s reputation grew, he was recruited by several rap groups; the first was the New Jacks. After they disbanded he joined Soul Intent, who released a single on their 1995 self-titled EP featuring Proof. Eminem and Proof then teamed up with four other rappers to form The Dirty Dozen (D12), who released their first album Devil’s Night in 2001. Eminem had his first run-in with the law at age 20, when he was arrested for his involvement in a drive-by shooting with a paintball gun. The case was dismissed when the victim did not appear in court.
Eminem was soon signed to Jeff and Mark Bass’s FBT Productions, and recorded his debut album Infinite for their independent Web Entertainment label. The album was a commercial failure upon its release in 1996. One lyrical subject of Infinite was his struggle to raise his newborn daughter, Hailie Jade Scott Mathers, on little money. During this period, Eminem’s rhyming style, primarily inspired by rappers Nas, Esham and AZ, lacked the comically violent slant for which he later became known. Detroit disc jockeys largely ignored Infinite, and the feedback Eminem did receive (“Why don’t you go into rock and roll?”) led him to craft angrier, moodier tracks. At this time Eminem and Kim Scott lived in a crime-ridden neighborhood, and their house was robbed several times. Eminem cooked and washed dishes for minimum wage at Gilbert’s Lodge, a family-style restaurant at St. Clair Shores. His former boss described him as becoming a model employee, as he worked 60 hours a week for six months after Hailie’s birth. He was fired shortly before Christmas, and later said, “It was, like, five days before Christmas, which is Hailie’s birthday. I had, like, forty dollars to get her something.” After the release of Infinite, his personal problems and substance abuse culminated in a suicide attempt. By March 1997 he was fired from Gilbert’s Lodge for the last time, and lived in his mother’s mobile home with Kim and Hailie.