Happy Birthday, Eminem!
Many will agree that Eminem was being a bit too hard on himself when he famously claimed on "Till I Collapse" that he was No. 9 on the greatest of all-time list. He's one of the most polarizing rappers ever, but he's also a legend. Marshall Mathers turns 43 years old today (Oct. 17).
Part of Eminem's appeal is how his story is the story of the underdog. He rose from abject poverty in Detroit, made it through the rough battle rap circuit and caught Dr. Dre's attention. The result was a symbiotic relationship: Eminem resurrected Dre's career after a dry period in the late '90s, and Eminem had the firepower to become great.
Eminem's constantly came under fire for his bizarre sense of humor and blatant misogyny. However, what was undeniable was his talented as a pure songwriter - how he wrung those complex rhymes schemes around those beats and willed them into ubiquity.
Em's 1999 debut album, The Slim Shady LP, was a curiosity, but The Marshall Mathers LP made him iconic. The classic album sold over 10 million copies worldwide and won him a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album.
Eminem went on to form a power triumvirate with 50 Cent and Dr. Dre and star in the semi-biopic, 8 Mile. The film's anthemic track, "Lose Yourself," earned Em an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2002, making it the first ever rap song to have achieved this accolade. In addition, it also won two Grammy Awards in 2003.
The death of his best friend Proof spiraled Eminem into depression and drug abuse. But Eminem returned in 2009 with his sixth LP Relapse. Now refocused and sober, Eminem is still clearly one of the best rappers in hip-hop.