Oct 17, 1972
Marshall Bruce Mathers III is born in St. Joseph, Missouri. The labour lasts 73 hours and Mathers’ mother, Debbie Rae Nelson, nearly passes away. When Mathers is still a child his parents separate; he and his mother move often, seldom staying in one place longer than 12 months.
Mathers spends much of his adolescence in a working-class area of Detroit, and he belongs to one of three white families on his block. He finds joy in comics and storytelling but is often bullied. He writes many letters to his father, all of which come back marked ‘Return To Sender.’ He hears his first rap track in ‘84: Chris Taylor’s Reckless featuring Ice-T.
At age 14, Mathers begins to rap with friends; it’s during this time he adopts the name “M&M”, which evolves into his permanent moniker “Eminem.” He spends most of his time practising writing raps, penning long sentences on paper and working out syllable rhymes for each word.
Debbie allows runaway twins Kim and Dawn Scott to stay at the home. Kim, Dawn and Mathers are all 15 years old, and know one another from high school.
Mathers drops out of Lincoln High School, aged 17.
Mathers’ reputation grows with underground hip hop audiences, and he raps with several collectives. He joins The Dirty Dozen (D12), and is arrested in connection with a drive-by shooting with a paintball gun. The case is dismissed.
Dec 25, 1995
The daughter of Eminem and Kim Scott is born; the couple name her Hailie Jade Scott Mathers.
Eminem releases his debut solo album Infinite, which is not a success. He lives with Kim in a dangerous neighbourhood and struggles to raise their daughter on his dishwasher pay – although reportedly working 60 hour weeks in the months following Hailie’s birth. He’s fired just before Christmas. Mathers attempts suicide, and afterwards, moves into his mother’s mobile home with Kim and Hailie.
In response to suggestions he try a different style of music, Eminem develops the furious and sadistic Slim Shady alter-ego. His Slim Shady EP is full of raps about poverty and family issues, as well as murder, drugs and rape. It attracts a lot of critical attention.
Oct 24, 1997
Eminem places second in the Los Angeles Rap Olympics. Through an attendee connected with Interscope Records, the Slim Shady EP finds its way to Interscope co-founder Jimmy Iovine and then to rap icon Dr. Dre.
The Slim Shady LP is released. It’s certified triple platinum by the year’s end, and marks the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership between Eminem and Dr. Dre. Mathers marries long-time girlfriend Kim Scott; his mother sues him for $10 million for slandering her on The Slim Shady LP. She wins $1,600 in the suit.
The Marshall Mathers LP arrives. It sells more than 1.7 million copies in its first week, breaking records previously held by Snoop Dogg and Britney Spears (fastest-selling hip hop album, and fastest-selling solo album respectively). It contains singles The Real Slim Shady and Stan. Two months later, Kim Scott attempts suicide.
Eminem performs with Elton John at the 43rd Grammy Awards amidst controversy surrounding the rapper’s lyrics. He wins three awards out of the four categories in which he’s nominated. The musician divorces Kim Scott and falls back into a pattern of drug abuse. He’ll struggle with substances for the next several years, constantly swinging between their noxious pull and his desire to be a responsible father to Hailie.
Eminem is fined $2,000 and sentenced to one year’s probation and community service on weapons charges. He’s also sued by DeAngelo Bailey, whose high school bullying Eminem describes in the track Brain Damage (on The Slim Shady LP). The judge dismisses the suit in 2003 – delivering part of her verdict in rap style – saying Mathers’ lyrics were clearly exaggerated.
This month Eminem’s rap collective D12 releases their album Devil’s Night, which includes single Purple Pills; another version of the song, omitting references to violence and drugs, is recorded and entitled Purple Hills.
Eminem releases The Eminem Show, which becomes the best-selling album of the year.
Eminem’s semi-biographical film 8 Mile is released, starring Mathers, Mekhi Phifer, Brittany Murphy, Michael Shannon and Kim Basinger. It’s an absolutely massive success, with critics and audiences praising the rapper’s acting as well as the film’s music. Eminem later reveals that during its production he was working 16-hour days, developed insomnia, and was taking appalling amounts of Vicodin, Ambien and Valium.
Eminem wins an Academy Award for Best Original Song for Lose Yourself, from his film 8 Mile. He’s the first rapper to ever receive the award.
Eminem’s fifth studio album Encore is released. First single Just Lose It parodies a number of musicians including Michael Jackson, which causes uproar amongst the musical community. The United States Secret Service says it’s investigating allegations that Eminem threatened the US President (George W. Bush), via the lyrics for track We As Americans. Eminem releases the video for anti-war single Mosh a week before the 2004 presidential election. George W. Bush is re-elected.
After much speculation about his possible retirement, Eminem releases Curtain Call: The Hits, a compilation album of previously released tracks.
Mathers and Scott re-marry, but divorce again by April.
Mathers is rushed to hospital after a methadone overdose; he’s told by doctors he was a hair’s breadth away from death. The next year is characterised by a repetitious cycle of stints at rehab, hospitalisation, surgery and counselling. Elton John becomes a mentor to Mathers, checking in on him every week.
Eminem releases Relapse. It’s a commercial success. At the MTV Movie Awards that year, Sacha Baron Cohen descends from the ceiling in angel wings and a jockstrap and lands upside-down with his crotch in Eminem’s face. The rapper leaves the ceremony in a rage – but a few days later admits it was staged stunt.
The rapper releases seventh album Recovery, his sixth consecutive #1 album in the US. Originally intended as a sequel to Relapse (and to be titled Relapse 2), it spawns singles Not Afraid and Love The Way You Lie.
Eminem opens the MTV Video Music Awards, performing Not Afraid and Love The Way You Lie with Rihanna.
Eminem releases The Marshall Mathers LP 2, one of the most anticipated records of that year; its chart-topping sales earn the rapper another slew of credits including being the first artist since The Beatles to have four singles in the Billboard top 20, and the first American artist with seven consecutive UK #1 albums. He receives two Grammy Awards for the record.
Jan 21, 2016
Dawn Scott – twin sister of Mathers’ now ex-wife Kim – is found dead in her Detroit trailer home of an apparent heroin overdose.
Eminem releases freestyle rap The Storm, for the 2017 BET Hip Hop awards’ annual cypher. Delivered with no backing beat and filmed in a bleak concrete carpark, the track criticises US President Donald Trump, touching on the leader’s response to Hurricane Maria, the NFL protests, and the October Las Vegas shooting.
The rapper releases the first single from his upcoming album, a duet with Beyonce entitled Walk On Water. De. Dre confirms Eminem’s new album Revival will be released mid-December.
Dec 6, 2017
Eminem reveals the Revival tracklisting. At 19 songs long, the album’s guest vocalists include Ed Sheeran, Kehlani and Alicia Keys.
Dec 15, 2017
Revival is released via Universal.