How Has Eminem Risen to the Top?

How is it that a little white boy from Kansas City has become

the most well known rapper in the world? Starting from nothing

and eventually moving up to a multi-millionaire, Eminem over the

past seven years has been in the eye of the public everywhere

you look. He has essentially entered a black man’s business and

gone to the top over the course of a few years, but how?

On October 17, 1972 Marshall Bruce Mathers III was born in St.

Joseph, MO by his 15 year old mother Debbie. Six months later

his father was gone and this began the struggle for Marshall and

his mother; one that was just the beginning. Throughout the

course of his childhood Marshall and his mother moved numerous

times into different houses from Kansas City to Detroit. The

maximum time spent in one house was only 3 months, which caused

Marshall to attend many different schools making it difficult to

cope to the different surroundings and make friends. Every new

school he attended he was bullied as he was the new kid. This

was something that he could not change as he was never stationed

in one school for a long period of time. At the age of 12 he and

his mother finally settled in a house in Detroit. He would

later use the bullying to his advantage fueling him to get back

at all his bullies through songs.

By the age of 4 Marshall was already beginning to rap and put

words together rhyming them. At school he was rather successful

considering the circumstances, but it was lunchtime that he

enjoyed as he often battled schoolmates through freestyles. At

the age of 14 Marshall began to get serious about rapping and

felt that he had a shot in the business. When he got to the

ninth grade he failed it three times before eventually dropping

out as he felt school was not for him.

When he turned 17 he came up with the name M&M for himself by

combining the first letters of his first and last name, which

later was changed to Eminem. Now that he didn’t have school as

a distraction, he focused solely on rapping with the goal of

making it to the top. He faced constant struggle on the way to

stardom as he was continuously rejected by most rappers because

of his race, despite his true talent. This grew anger inside of

him that he uses in his music today. Knowing that it wasn’t

going to be easy and that he would have to work, Marshall forced

himself onto radio shows and freestyle battles to prove

everybody wrong. He eventually got a first album titled

“Infinite”, but it only sold 1,000 copies. It wasn’t until 1997

that Marshall would make a name for himself.

In 1997 he was married with a child trying to support his family

with very little cash to do it with. He went to the Rap

Olympics in Los Angeles hoping to win the cash prize of $1,500

for first place, but instead was spotted by a few sponsors from

Interscope. Furious that he had come in second, he later found

out about the sponsors and he gave them a copy of the “Infinite”

tape, which was later sent to Dr. Dre. Dre was extremely

impressed with the talent of Eminem and got contact of him,

where the two recorded his second album; The Slim Shady LP.

This album set the tone for his style of rap, as he lashed out

on everyone that had bullied him throughout his life. It was a

different style than anyone had ever heard, which brought him to


Eminem is by far the most popular rapper that is seen most in

public. He has been seen in Rap Pages, VIBE, Rolling Stone,

Spin, The Source, URB and Stress and continues to strive for

more. He became the first white person to ever be on the cover

of The Source. Throughout his life he has starred in the movie

“8 Mile” based on his life growing up, has had over 20 guest

appearances on TV, has featured on numerous different rappers

CD’s, and has recorded 5 CD’s of his own. His second LP, “The

Marshall Mathers LP”, sold over 8 million records in the United

States alone, 1.76 million copies in the first week setting a

record for a solo artist. This album became the first rap album

ever to be nominated for “Album of the Year” at the Grammies. He

would go on to win 3 Grammies for the album that night. In the

year 2002 he made $29 million in earnings of his fourth album

“The Eminem Show LP” and touring for it. Then on March 23, 2003

the song “Lose Yourself” from his movie “8 Mile” became the

first rap song to ever win an Academy Award.

While being known for his explicit behavior and horrendous

lyrics on his albums and in the eye of the public, it is

difficult to overlook all that he has achieved. Coming from

where he did and rising to where he is currently, it is

remarkable what he has done not only for himself, but the rap

world as well. While it is hard for most to like him, there are

not many that do not at least respect him for what he has

achieved as of now, and what he may do in the future to come.

© Jeff Schuman II