EMINEM BIOGRAPHY: (See below for D-12's bio)
As a protégé of Dr. Dre, rapper Marshall Mathers, aka Slim Shady, aka Eminem, emerged in 1999 as one of the most controversial rappers to ever grace the genre. Using his biting wit and incredible skills to vent on everything from his unhappy childhood, to his bad relationship with his mom and his anti-homosexuallity views, to his contempt for the mainstream media, his success became the biggest crossover success the genre had seen since Dre's solo debut seven years earlier. The controversy over his lyrics was the best publicity any musician could afford, and being the first 'white' rapper to make a significant impact ever on Hip Hop may have given him a platform not afforded to equally talented African-American rappers.
A gifted producer as well, his talents always seemed overshadowed by his media presence, which was a mix between misunderstood genius and misogynistic homophobe. Both may be true, but his message spoke to legions of disaffected youth who had few role models in the rap world who could relate to the white lower-class experience.
He was born Marshall Mathers in St. Joseph, MO (near Kansas City), spending the better part of his impoverished childhood moving back and forth between his hometown and the city of Detroit. Initially attracted to rap as a teen, Eminem began performing at age 14, performing raps in the basement of his high school friend's home. The two went under the names Manix and M&M; (soon changed to Eminem), which Mathers took from his own initials. Due to the unavoidable racial boundaries that came with being a white rapper, he decided the easiest way to win over underground hip-hop audiences was to become a battle rapper and improve against other MCs. Although he wasn't immediately accepted, through time he became such a popular attraction that people would challenge him just to make a name for themselves and say they beat him, if they did.
His uncle's suicide prompted a brief exodus from the world of rap, but he returned and found himself courted by several other rappers to start groups. He first joined the "New Jacks", and then moved on to "Soul Intent", who released Eminem's first recorded single in 1995. A rapper named Proof performed the B-side on the single and enjoyed working with Eminem so much that he asked him to start yet another group. Proof worked with Em in a local pizza joint. Drafting in a few other friends, the group became known as "D-12", a six-member crew that supported one another as solo artists more than they collaborated. The birth of Eminem's first child with wife Kim Mathers put his career on hold again as he started working in order to care for his family. This, later on gave Eminem a bitterness that started to creep into his lyrics as he began to make personal experiences the topic of his raps.
Slim Shady's debut record, 1996's Infinite, broke his artistic rut but received few good reviews, as comparisons to Nas and AZ came unfavorably. Undaunted, he downplayed many of the positive messages he had been including in his raps and created Slim Shady, an alter ego that was not afraid to say whatever he felt. Tapping into his innermost feelings, he had a bounty of material to work with when his mother, Debbie, was accused of mentally and physically abusing his younger brother the same year. The next year his girlfriend left him and barred him from visiting their child, so he was forced to move back in with his mother, an experience that fueled his hatred toward her and made him even more sympathetic toward his brother. The material he was writing was uncharacteristically dark as he began to abuse drugs and alcohol at a more frequent rate. An unsuccessful suicide attempt was the last straw, as he realized his musical ambitions were the only way to escape his unhappy life. He released the brutal Slim Shady EP, a mean-spirited, yet funny, and thought-provoking record that was light years ahead of the material he had been writing beforehand. Making quite the impression in the underground not only for his exaggerated, nasal-voiced rapping style but also for his skin color, many quarters dubbed him the music's next "great white hope."
According to legend, Dr. Dre discovered his demo tape on the floor of Interscope label chief Jimmy Iovine's garage, but the reality was that Eminem took second place in the freestyle category at 1997's Rap Olympics MC Battle in Los Angeles and Iovine approached the rapper for a tape afterward. It wasn't until a month or two later that he played the tape for an enthusiastic Dre, who eagerly contacted Eminem. Upon meeting, Dr. Dre was taken back by his skin color more than his skill, but within the first hour they had already started recording the track "My Name Is" and Dre agreed to produce his first album and the two released "Just Don't Give a Fuck" as a single to preview the new album. A reconciliation with his girlfriend led to the two getting married in the fall of 1998, and Interscope signed the rapper and prepared to give him a massive push on Dre's advice. An appearance on Kid Rock's Devil Without a Cause only helped the buzz that was slowly surrounding him.
The best-selling Slim Shady LP followed in early 1999, scoring a massive hit with the single and video "My Name Is," plus a popular follow-up in "Guilty Conscience"; over the next year, the album went triple platinum. With such wide exposure, controversy ensued over the album's content, with some harshly criticizing its cartoon-ish, graphic violence; others praised its edginess and surreal humor, as well as Eminem's own undeniable lyrical skills and Dre's inventive production. In between albums, Eminem appeared on Dre's Dr. Dre 2001, with his contributions providing some of the record's liveliest moments.
Eminem's 'The Marshall Mathers LP' appeared in the summer of 2000, moving close to two-million copies in its first week of release on its way to becoming the fastest-selling rap album of all time. Unfortunately, this success also bred more controversy, and no other musician was better suited for it than Eminem. Among the incidents that occurred included a scuffle with the Insane Clown Posse's employees in a car stereo shop, a bitter battle with pop star Christina Aguilera over a lyric about her fictional sexual exploits, a lawsuit from his mother over defamation of character, and an attack on a Detroit club goer after Eminem allegedly witnessed the man kissing his wife. Fans ate it up as his album stood strong at the top of the charts. But the mainstream media was not so enamored, as accusations of homophobia and sexism sprung from the inflammatory lyrics in the songs "Kill You" and "Kim." It was this last song that ended his marriage, as the song's chosen topic (violently murdering his real life wife Kim Mathers) drove his spouse to a suicide attempt before they divorced. Eminem toured throughout most of this, settling several of his court cases and engaging a mini-feud with rap artist Everlast.
The annual Grammy Awards nominated the album for several awards, and to silence his critics the rapper called on Elton John to duet with him at the ceremony. In 2001, he teamed with several of his old Detroit running buddies and re-formed D-12. Releasing an album with the group, Eminem hit the road with them that summer and tried to ignore the efforts of his mother, who released an album in retaliation to his comments. After getting off of the road, he stepped in front of the camera and filmed 8 Mile, a film loosely based on his life directed by the unlikely fan Curtis Hanson (Wonder Boys). His constant media exposure died out as well, leaving him time to work on new music.
When he re-emerged in 2002, he splashed onto the scene with "Without Me," a single that attacked Moby and Limp Bizkit and celebrated his return to music. Surprisingly, the following album, The Eminem Show, inspired little controversy. Instead, the popular second single "Cleanin' Out My Closet" told of his dysfunctional childhood and explained his hatred toward his mother in a mannered, poignant fashion. And being Eminem, he followed this up with an appearance at MTV's Video Music Awards that inspired boos when he verbally assaulted Moby for no apparent reason. The album had massive success and praise worldwide as Eminem became the "king" of rap. His lyrical genius and flow was a fresh approach that Hip-Hop had not seen and with plenty of media attention, Dr Dre's beats and a record label of his own, Eminem is quickly becoming one of raps greatest.
D-12 GROUP BIOGRAPHY:
D-12, also known as the Dirty Dozen, is a sextet of Detroit-based rappers headed by none other than Eminem on his own Shady Rec label. Members Bizarre, Swift, Kon Artis, Proof, and Kuniva have since proved they can match up to em's wit and lyrical proweresss on tha mic, whilst adding the humour, they claim they are "here to bring the sick, the obscene, the disgusting."
Still, it wasn't until Eminem's own legendary solo success with Dr. Dre that D12 finally got a chance to move beyond their neighborhoods of Detriot. "Em was able to take D12 to the next level," Kon Artis says. Prior to teaming up in front of tha mic, the two worked together at a local pizza joint called Gilbert's Lounge. "He helps to bring stuff out of us. With him, no matter what happens, it's always been about real friendship."
"We all knew each other growing up in Detroit," Proof remembers. "I used to sneak Em into my school lunchroom just so he could battle. Later, when we started battling once a month at Maurice Malone's Hip-Hop Shop, everybody had a crew. So, we decided to form our own. That's how D12 was born. Before we even thought about making records, our only goal was to be like verbal ninjas and kick ass."
Although the Detroit hip-hop scene might not be on the scale of New York or Cali, those who are down take rap very seriously. Having known each other since the days when they were rapping just to be heard, headnodding onstage inside Detroit's infamous Hip-Hop Shop (where Proof was also the host), these brothers from different mothers have always had a special bond. "We were the All-Star Team of battle rappers," Kuniva recalls. "And when somebody like Bizarre got in front of the mic, we never knew what he might say. Bizarre is wicked 'cause he'll say shit that others won't."
One friend and group member who wouldn't live to see D12 successfully rock the world was a young rapper named Bugz. Although he was down with the crew, Bugz was killed shortly before D12 was signed to Shady Records. "His last request was that we put Swift in the group," Proof says. "If you listen to our song 'Good Die Young' on D12 World, you'd understand how much he meant to the group." In an odd coincidence, Proof's son was born the same day Bugz died.
Indeed, Devil's Night, the groups first officially released project, established D12 as one of the supergroups of the new millennium, with its chart-topping singles "Purple Pills" and "Fight Music," and with their outlandish antics on record and in performance. This album made Eminems imprints on the Hip Hop community more dominant, but at the same time sent shockwaves around the world in the name of D12, not only for controversy, but talent also!
Tha D12 crew spent alot of time touring the world. Although Bizarre was still bringing the laughs and Kuniva was still being his outspoken self, there was still time for reflection. "Anyone who listened to the Devil's Night will hear a lot of growth on our new joint," Kon Artis says. "For the past two years all we've done is tour and mature." Bizarre concurs, "Although Eminem is the most prominent member of the crew, on this album the rest of D12 steps up and displays their skills. On D12 World, you can clearly hear we're all dope MCs. Most rap on the radio right now is either popcorn or gangsta, but we're going for a new refreshing approach with our beats and lyrical content."
Two years after selling over 4 million copies worldwide of their debut album Devil's Night, these Motor City wild boys are on a mission to define themselves in the hectic canon of hip-hop. "In D12 World, anything can happen at any time," Kuniva laughs. "Devil's Night was just an introduction, now it's time for us to really go crazy." While most cliques fronted by an internationally known rap superstar might try to distance themselves from secondhand fame, the members of D12 rather make fun of it with their first single, "My Band," lampooning the fact that more than a few journalists wrote about D12 as though they were the latest boy band on the scene. "The entire 'My Band' track originated from a joke," Swift explains. "On the whole song, Em is just this dick lead singer who anoints us 'the cute one' or 'the shy one.' It's just a goof directed at the media." Reminding one of a rap version of Spinal Tap, this minimally produced Em nugget has the charm of Mad magazine and sassiness of a snake.
The group balances out the release of "My Band" with the simultaneous release of "40 Oz." (video and single). The rowdy Trackboyz-produced track gives the club heads the rush they need to get the party started.
Em also contributed the frantic beat on "Git Up." Featuring Em's bouncy chants combined with creepy gothic strings, "Git Up," which is an exciting street burner taunts any suckers trying to step to the crew. As group member Kon Artis, himself a noted producer (find him listed as "Mr. Porter" in the production credits), says, "Em created a track that is just pure adrenaline. We just went in the studio and tried to destroy whatever people might think about D12. Any backlash that Em has to deal with from the press, we go though together. D12 is more than a group, we're brothers." Although naysayers and corn balls might try to label the humorous "I'm Gonna Get My Gun" as just another gangsta anthem, Bizarre knows better. "That's another one of those times we were just messing around in the studio," he explains. "One of the engineers said, 'You ever been in a club, and see dudes get in a fight. One guy always gotta announce...I'm gonna get my gun!' It's funny, but it's also real."
After massive success with the groups albums, and alos a few solo efforts, the group were shattered when fellow member, friend, and best friend to Eminem, Proof was shot and killed outside a detroit club in April 2006!
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