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Commentary: Eminem over the hill, on track for ‘Infinite’ success

Courtesy of MCT

“But when it’s all said and done I’ll be 40 / Before I know it with a 40 on the porch telling stories / With a bottle of Jack / Two grandkids on my lap / Babysitting for Hailie while Hailie’s out getting smashed,” sings Marshall Mathers, more widely known as Eminem or Slim Shady, way back in the year 2000 on his track “Drug Ballad” from his bestselling album “The Marshall Mathers LP.”

Well, Eminem turned 40 this week, and it looks like story time is going to have to wait. The award-winning artist hasn’t shown any signs of retirement since he returned from a five-year hiatus due to going to rehab for drug addiction from 2003 to 2009.

Eminem was born Oct. 17, 1972, in Saint Joseph, Mo. Thereafter, his family moved to Detroit.

After years of living in poverty, dealing with a drug addict mother and being bullied in school, Mathers emerged onto the rap scene with his debut album “Infinite” in 1996 under his stage name Eminem. Since then he has managed to have the kind of career longevity that is rare in the rap industry, especially for someone who has been involved in as many feuds and controversies as he has. Just last year he was named The King of Rap by Rolling Stone Magazine.

While “Infinite” released in 1996, he did not achieve much commercial success until three years later with the release of “The Slim Shady LP,” which went quadruple platinum and won the Grammy for Best Rap Album in 1999. After this sophomore album, Eminem continued to steam roll the rap game. His following releases, “The Marshall Mathers LP” and “The Eminem Show,” went diamond, and won Grammys for the Best Rap Album, in 2000 and 2002, respectively.

Also in 2002, Eminem starred in the Academy Award-winning movie “8 Mile,” which was loosely based off his life. The headline song from this movie was “Lose Yourself,” which went on to be one of Eminem’s most successful track, garnering numerous awards. It was nominated for a several Grammys, won the Oscar in 2003 for Music (Original Song) and was ranked No. 12 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest songs of the 2000s in a list released in 2011.

Eminem went on to release “Encore” in 2004, which went quadruple platinum, and topped the charts worldwide, but let down many of his fans. “Encore” got slammed for being too commercial – many critics called it soft, and rightfully so. While a few of the tracks, such as “Evil Deeds” and “Mosh” still held true to the traditional Eminem sound, filled with hate and anger, many of the tracks such as “Big Weenie” and “Puke” were just corny.

After “Encore,” Eminem went on a five-year hiatus, which was spent in rehab for a drug addiction, an issue he discussed often throughout his career.

In 2009 he released “Relapse” which gained commercial success, going double platinum and winning Best Rap Album at the Grammys, but also meeting a great deal of criticism. This album lead to Eminem being written off as losing his touch, going too mainstream and accusations that he was just in it for the money. His next album “Recovery” showed that he agreed, as he took a few shots at his own “Relapse.”

“Let’s be honest, that last ‘Relapse’ CD was ehhhh,” he sings on “Not Afraid” and in “Cinderella Man” he sings, “F— my last CD that s—‘s in the trash.”

“Recovery” was the highest-selling album of 2010, easily making it his best album since “The Eminem Show.”

“Recovery” featured much more emotional content than his two previous albums, and earned him a spot back at the 2011 Grammys, where he was awarded with Rap Album of the Year once again.

Over the years, many of Eminem’s lyrics have been met with an outpouring of criticism from various organizations, social groups and celebrities, including music icons Elton John and Michael Jackson. Yet the same style that has got him into all of his trouble has been the style that has made him one of the greatest artists of our generation, and one of the greatest rappers of all time.

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