Here’s the third instalment in my series of inspiring stories, Stephen King was last.
Let’s change the scene and turn to a musician for some inspiration now.
Whether you love him or hate him, there is no doubt that he is one of the greatest rappers of all time, who has changed the view of many and influenced the industry immensely.
So let’s talk about… Eminem.
Marshall Bruce Mathers – EMINEM
Eminem is an American rapper, music producer and actor.
He was born in 1972 and not had it easy from the very start of his life.
He was awarded 13 Grammy’s in total and Eminem is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most successive US number 1 albums by a solo artist.
Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself” was the first rap song to win an Oscar for Best Original Song, but Eminem did not even watch the awards because he didn’t think he stood a chance of winning. Instead, he fell asleep watching cartoons with his daughter.
He owns a record label, Shady Records which has been successfully running for many years. Artists who want to be signed to his record label have to take Eminem on in a rap battle.
Early years and Background
He never knew his father, who decided to walk out on him when he was an infant, leaving his mother to raise him single -handedly. Later in life, throughout his childhood he tried to get in touch with his father and tried to get to know him where he was rejected multiple times.
His mother was never able to hold down a job for very long which resulted in them moving form place to place. He recalls changing school multiple times throughout the years and this made it impossible for him to make any friends or settle in. He was a subject of bullying and has always been an outcast so spent most of his early years without close friends, withdrawn and alone.
At age 9 he was beaten up so bad, he spent a week in a coma in hospital.
Things wasn’t easier for him at home. His mother was addicted to subscription drugs, was mentally and physically abusive towards him. He never had a close bond with his mother, who denied all allegations towards her and even took a lawsuit out against his son later in life.
Marshall has never done well in school and always had low grades, eventually he dropped out of school after failing 9th grade, a total of 3 times.
As a young adult he has always been fascinated by comics and the only thing he was self admittedly great at, was English language. He used to study a dictionary reading it over and over, learning every word. He was very shy and due to the bullying through his early years, he had loads of trust issues and had low confidence, even had an issue with people looking at him.
The 80’s and 90’s were took over by hip hop and R&B in the music world but they were led by black musicians and seemed to be a secluded world.
That never held Marshall back, a fair skinned, skinny, small built and bright blue eyed young man.
He entered many underground rap battles, where two rappers would insult each other with a spare of the moment made up lyrics. He started getting recognition on a small scale in the underground world. His nickname was M&M, a mocking way of his initials.
He has met his on and off girlfriend and wife, Kimberly Scott, and their relationship was rather fiery. They married and divorced twice and Eminem has written multiple songs about her, referencing to their relationship and giving us an insight on what it was like.
At one point in their relationship Eminem was asked by Kim Mathers to not perform the infamous song “Kim” at a concert she was attending. He proceeded to come out on stage with a blonde blow up doll and choke it to death, she went home and slit her wrists.
They have 3 daughters, Hailie, Whitney and Alaina, who he also often reference to in his songs.
He became a father for the first time at the age of 23 and bounced from one low paid job to another while working on his music, writing lyrics and recording them.
Eminem tried killing himself in 1997 after he was fired from his job and couldn’t afford a gift for his daughter. After the failed attempt, he wrote Rock Bottom when he got out of hospital.
His first breakthrough was when he got discovered by Dr Dre, who he always admired. He turned up at their meeting in a bright yellow jumpsuit, which was given to him by a sponsor because at this point he couldn’t afford any decent clothes. Dr Dre recalls thinking Eminem looked like a banana.
Once they singed him up, Eminem’s success took off and he became one of the biggest rappers, changing the industry along the line.
He has created 3 personas to appear in his songs and they all express different feelings. His personas are Marshall Mathers, Eminem and Slim Shady.
He received a lot of backlash and been accused of racism and homophobia which he denied and defended himself explaining his lyrics and persona wasn’t his true self and didn’t apply for the real Marshall Mathers. His long term friend stepped in too to defend him, none other than Sir Elton John. Elton John reviled that when him and his partner got their civil union, Eminem sent them a little gift, a pair of diamond encrusted cock rings. Nothing says more than he is not a homophobe than his choice of present.
Despite the fame and the money he never let it get to his head, in fact when he was a 3 multi-platinum album holder, he was still making payments on his trailer and was driving a leased Mercedes.
He has founded many charities which helps to support underprivileged, disadvantaged and at risk youths in his home town, Detroit, and in many areas. He supports organisations which helps people with mental health problems, addictions, victims of crime and families in crises.
Even after his success, Eminem’s life wasn’t plain sailing and he went quiet on the music scene for a few years, due to family issues. The excessive touring, his relationship breakdown, divorce and then a custody battle over his daughter sent him into a downward spiral. His drinking turned into alcoholism and he was addicted to sleeping pills, subscription painkillers and other drugs. At this point he would take handful of Diazepam, Vicodin and other pills in one day.
At his lowest he reached out to his friend, Elton John, who helped him and it took 18 months of joint efforts to get Marshall in a straight line again.
After getting clean he has written an album called Recovery, which can only be described as real, raw autobiography.
It was dedicated “To anyone who’s in a dark place tryin’ to get out. Keep your head up… It does get better”
Since then he has released more albums and found himself once again. He said:
“I started learning how to not be so angry about things, learning how to count my f***ing blessings instead. By doing that, I’ve become a happier person, instead of all this self-loathing I was doing for a while,” Eminem said. “The music, I wouldn’t say it’s gotten happier, but it’s definitely more upbeat. I feel like myself again.”
He doesn’t do excessive tours anymore because it triggers his addiction but he is very much still at large and creating some very controversial, shocking but absolutely genius lyrics.
My conclusion and the lesson from his story
Eminem was subjected to a lot of hurt, pain, confusion and isolation as a child. He must have felt unwanted by his father, his relationship with his mother didn’t give him closeness and confidence either.
He never had a chance to make many friends, he was brought up in poverty and in a lower class black neighbourhood.
For many years he had to battle bullies, discrimination. Often times he felt hopeless and helpless, had no confidence and hardly any money to his name.
What’s inspiring about his story is that despite the overwhelming odds he never gave up and made himself a name in an industry where no one thought he ever had a chance.
Regardless of his personal issues, he always stayed true to himself, battled his addictions and always tried to help others in need so they don’t have to go through what he had to or even just to make it a bit better and easier for others.
Until next time!