Rap superstar Eminem has been an influential figure in hip-hop since he burst onto the scene over two decades ago. His breakout album The Marshall Mathers LP showed that he was a multifaceted artist with different ways of approaching rap.
Eminem rose to fame at the turn of the century
Eminem released his debut EP, the Slim Shady EP, in 1997. Slim Shady represented Eminem’s alter ego, which he used to rap about drug use, sex, mental instability, poverty, and violence — some things that Eminem dealt with in his personal life.
In 1999, he released The Slim Shady LP, his major-label breakout album. He released The Marshall Mathers LP the following year, meant to serve as a look into the person behind the Slim Shady character. The album sold nearly 2 million copies in his first week and produced hit singles such as “The Real Slim Shady”, “The Way I Am”, “Stan”, “I’m Back” and “B*** Please II.”
Eminem’s album ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ was almost titled ‘Amsterdam’
Many publications deemed The Marshall Mathers LP the best album of 2000. Eminem had officially been put on the map, and he continued to build on his success with his 2002 follow-up The Eminem Show.
And while The Marshall Mathers LP holds a special spot in hip-hop’s extensive library of influential records, the personal album almost had an entirely different title.
In 2000, SPIN magazine profiled the hot new rapper for a revealing cover story. Writer Mike Rubin joined Em on a trip to Amsterdam to perform a sold-out show with his friend and collaborator Dr. Dre. Amsterdam played such a huge role in Eminem’s life at the time that he almost named his upcoming album — what ended up becoming The Marshall Mathers LP — after the city.
“Eminem was so taken with the city his first time through that he originally planned to call his new album Amsterdam — not only because it’s the ecstasy-producing capital of the world, but also because the questions he was asked by Dutch journalists irked him so much that he wrote four songs about them on the plane ride home,” Rubin wrote.
Eminem’s career today
The Marshall Mathers LP would go on to be certified diamond with over 10 million copies sold. And of course, Eminem’s career only continued to grow as the 2000s progressed. His 2002 album The Eminem Show was both the best-selling album of 2002 in the US and the best-selling album worldwide that year. With over 27 million copies sold worldwide, it remains one of the best-selling albums of all time and the second best-selling album of the 21st century.
To date, Eminem has released 11 solo albums and has 15 Grammy Awards to his name. In 2022, his status as a hip-hop icon was celebrated as part of the Super Bowl LVI halftime show, where the “Lose Yourself” rapper performed alongside other greats including Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige.
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