Eminem

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"Will Smith don't gotta cuss in his raps to sell records...
Well I do, so fuck him and fuck you too!"

—"The Real Slim Shady"

Marshall Bruce Mathers III, AKA Eminem, AKA Slim Shady (1972-) is a popular rapper from Warren, Michigan.

Mathers had a troubled childhood, raised on welfare by his mother who emotionally and physically abused him. His father walked out on the family when he was a baby. The family switched homes every two months before they settled down. He was bullied to ridiculous extents for being white in an all-black ghetto; once he was even put in a coma and had to re-learn all his basic functions when he woke up. He was often kicked out of his own house for nights, he had failed ninth grade three times, and he could never get a decent paying job, the homes he stayed in were often robbed, and had apparently tried to commit suicide a few times.

During this period, Eminem discovered a love of rap and would practice it as often as he could. His early raps were heavily influenced by the popular gangsta rap of the day, and being white, he was often mocked for even trying, not to mention physically assaulted and shot at.

His first studio album was released in 1996. The album, called Infinite, was not a success; underground rappers and critics alike felt it was a bad imitation of the likes of Nas or Jay Z.

Angry, poor, in a rocky relationship with his wife and with a new baby daughter to feed, Eminem made another EP a few years later--The Slim Shady EP.

This album was remarkably different for his previous style and a new thing to rap in general. The album focused on the Alter Ego of Eminem, 'Slim Shady'. The lyrics were dark and gruesome, but took a twistedly funny approach to subjects such as rape, murder, the occult, drugs, and suicide. The album gained Eminem significant attention in the world of underground hip-hop, and eventually got him signed to Dr. Dre's record label.

Still angry and depressed, Eminem's first true studio album came out in the winter of 1999. The Slim Shady LP was even darker and more demented than his EP, and became a world wide hit. Admit it, even your mom knows the chorus to "My Name Is".

The album also caused riots with parents and Media Watchdogs alike. The homophobic and brutal lyrics started a wave of moral panic, which Eminem pretty much used as an excuse to continue writing such songs.

Marshall's second mainstream album was called The Marshall Mathers LP, and showed the world a more vulnerable and depressed artist trying to deal with his new found super stardom. The album pretty much took everything "offensive" about The Slim Shady LP and turned it Up to Eleven, with Eminem revealing more disturbing details of his childhood, spinning darker fantasies of domestic violence, and responding more virulently to his critics. Considered his magnum opus, the record was another massive hit (it is currently both the fastest-selling and highest-selling rap album of all time) but managed to attract even more controversy than its predecessor.

Eminem's third studio album, The Eminem Show, was less inflammatory and ill than his previous albums. This one was more of an introspect tour of the world of fame and isolation the rapper had built himself. Many of the tracks showed a maturing Mathers, with sadder and more sincere lyrics. The more laid-back style didn't stop it from becoming another hit for the young artist, and like his previous albums, it made it on Rolling Stone's Greatest Albums Of All Time list.

Around the time of recording The Eminem Show, Eminem also appeared in the semi-autobiographical movie Eight Mile and produced its soundtrack. While he hasn't done much acting since, he won an Academy Award for the song "Lose Yourself". (He didn't go to the ceremony, preferring to sleep instead.)

During the summer of 2004, Eminem released his fourth studio album, named Encore. Critics sung their usual praise, but many fans felt the album was a disappointment--Eminem's famous tongue-twister lyrics were dumbed down to much simpler mumbles, the beats felt less creative and worked on, and much of the songs seemed an excuse to fit in as many fart jokes as humanly possible. (Eminem went on to say years later that he made the album during an addiction to prescription drugs that nearly took his life, which explains some things.) Another commercial hit for Marshall, but many fans shove it right into Seasonal Rot territory.

After Encore he took a break from music (aside from Curtain Call: The Hits, which had a couple of new songs on it, and The Re-Up, a mixtape-style album that attempted to showcase the artists on Shady Records) to deal with his own personal drug problems and the shooting of his best friend Proof.

In the Spring of 2009, Relapse was released, sending Eminem back into ‘Slim Shady’ territory, detailing his descent into drug addiction during his hiatus. While the album received generally positive reviews and was seen as an improvement over Encore, some felt that the accents, celebrity bashes and outright morbid weirdness of some of the tracks were a little much (interesting, Eminem seems to agree with the detractors, calling the album "Ehh" during "Not Afraid"). However, it was yet another financial smash, securing Eminem as the best-selling rapper of all time. A special edition of the album, titled Relapse: Refill, was released in December of the same year and included seven new songs.

His next album was set to be a direct Sequel to Relapse, but as he tinkered with it, the whole Relapse 2 idea was dropped in favor of a completely new album titled Recovery, which promised to be a return to the more sincere and somber tone of The Marshall Mathers LP and focus less on Slim Shady's antics (That album, named The Marshall Mathers LP 2, was released on November 5, 2013). The first single from the album, "Not Afraid", was released on April 29th, 2010, and the album was released on June 22nd of the same year. While some listeners felt that it was just more of the same, reception was for the most part positive, with many hailing it as a vast improvement over both Encore and Relapse. And like all of his albums, it was greeted with very strong sales.

Discography:
  • Infinite (1996)
  • The Slim Shady LP (1999)
  • The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
  • The Eminem Show (2002)
  • Encore (2004)
  • Relapse (2009)
  • Recovery (2010)
  • The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013)
Eminem provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Absurdly Youthful Father: A really rare Real Life example; while he is definitely old enough to be the father of his daughter, he doesn't look any older than 30 or so despite being born in 1972. His daughter was born in 1995 and looks like it. A bystander would probably guess they were cousins or something else, as they look less than 10 years apart when in reality, he had her at a fairly reasonable 24 years of age.
  • Abusive Parents
  • Accidental Public Confession: In "Just Lose it".

Now I'm gonna make you dance
It's your chance
Yeah, boy; shake that ass
Oops, I mean girl
Girl, girl, girl...

"'Cause I woulda killed 'em, shit, I woulda shot Kim and 'im both,
It's my life, I'd like to welcome y'all to The Eminem Show...

  • Alliterative Name: Marshall Mathers. Overlaps with Meaningful Name: Marshall Mathers -> M&M -> fear of a candy company lawsuit -> Eminem
    • Also, Slim Shady
  • All Abusers Are Male: Averted in Love the Way you Lie. The relationship is "mutually destructive".
  • All of the Other Reindeer: How he was treated (booed offstage before even getting a chance to rap, shot at, robbed, physically assaulted) for being white. He still gets it even to this day, with so many people refusing to acknowledge his talent because they feel he "stole black music". As he points out in "Without Me", so did Elvis Presley.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Several of his songs, examples include: "Same Song and Dance", "3 A.M.", "Stan," and "Kim". Notably, except for "Stan", Eminem is usually the psycho.
  • Alter Ego Acting: Marshall Mathers, the loving father with a checkered past; Eminem, the insanely skilled and insightful emcee; and Slim Shady, the Ax Crazy, immature, and fucking hilarious fiend.
  • Anti-Love Song: Nearly all songs centered on his ex-wife Kim. The largest counter-example would be "Searchin" featured in the album Infinite. But heck, even in "Kim" he says he loves her. Right as he's driving her out to the woods to slit her throat. It's an angry love.
    • And while not a song specifically about her in "Going Through Changes" he wrote 'Hailie this one is for you, Whitney and Alaina too. I still love your mother that'll never change.'
  • Anti Role Model: Slim, mostly obviously in "Role Model."

I've got genital warts and it burns when I pee/Don't you want to grow up to be just like me?

Fuck you too bitch call the cops/I'ma kill you and those loud-ass motherfucking barking dogs!

  • Badass Bookworm/Book Dumb: Although Eminem did not do well in school, he did read the dictionary cover to cover multiple times as a youth, granting him an incredible vocabulary.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: "Guilty Conscience".
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty: In-universe: In "Stan", the title character mislabels Phil Collins' song "In the Air Tonight" as "In the Air of the Night".
  • Berserk Button: You don't even have to insult Hailie to set Eminem off, mentioning her is enough for him, which is sweet in its own scary way. The same very likely applies to his adopted daughters and little brother as well.
    • Ja Rule doesn't seem to have recovered since Eminem took this to heart and tore him to pieces in Doe Rae Me, before threatening to kill him if he ever mentioned Hailie's name again. Hard to blame Em considering that his is what Ja said:

"Look at these eyes, baby blue, baby, just like yourself. If they were brown, Shady'd lose, Shady sits on the shelf."

"And I'ma be another rapper dead, for poppin' off at the mouth with shit I shouldn't of said"

  • Department of Redundancy Department: “I'mma be what I set out to be, without a doubt undoubtedly!"
    • "It's 3 A.M. in the morning..."
  • Destructive Romance : His relationship with ex wife Kim
  • Disappeared Dad: Discussed in the song, "Cleaning Out My Closet".
  • Discontinuity Nod: To Relapse on "Not Afraid".
  • Double Standard: He's engaged in slut shaming in his interviews, never mind the fact that he himself constantly moons people on stage, appeared naked in his videos and did a nude photo shoot where he holds a dynamite stick over his male part.
  • Downer Ending:
    • "My Fault": Eminem gets a girl at a party high on mushrooms (he didn't mean for her to eat the whole bag) and she overdoses on them before anyone can save her, with Eminem in tears begging her to wake up - though whether he's crying over her or what might happen to him is up for debate.
    • "Stan": The obsessed fan of the song's title kills himself and his pregnant girlfriend because Shady didn't answer his letters in time.
    • "Kim": Ends with Marshall slitting Kim's throat in the woods, then the same sound effects from the beginning of "'97 Bonnie & Clyde" - namely, him dragging her corpse to a car and tossing it in the trunk.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the song "Stan", the title character parodies this trope by driving a car with his pregnant girlfriend over the bridge while he is drunk and on drugs sending an audio message to Eminem, who he thinks rejected him; and we hear a crash, making it a murder-suicide.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Started out as a heavy aversion of this, leaned more and more to it as he got off his addictions.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Eminem's first album "Infinite" had more of a low-key feel and sounded more like the other hip-hop artists of the time that inspired him, and even contained less profanity. It wasn't until "The Slim Shady EP" and "The Slim Shady LP" that Eminem established his more "unique" style and his titular psychotic alter-ego, as well as more story elements in his tracks.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Played to chilling effect in "97 Bonnie and Clyde".
  • Evil Matriarch: Debbie Mathers. See You Should Have Died Instead.
    • Hell, "Cleaning Out My Closet" is all about this:

See, what hurst me the most is, you won't admit you was wrong,
Bitch, do your song, keep tellin' yourself that you was a mom!
But how dare you try to take what you didn't help me to get?
You selfish bitch, I hope you fuckin' burn in hell for this shit!

  • Expospeak Gag: Too many to list on Recovery
    • "Won't Back Down": "I'll cut my toes off and step on the receipt before I foot the bill"
    • "W.T.P": "I'll rip a tree out the ground and flip it upside down before I turn over a new leaf, clown"
    • "Not Afraid": "...lift the liquor counter up 'cause I'm raising the bar"
  • Explain, Explain, Oh Crap: At the end of Stan, certainly a Fridge Horror for Eminem.

I seen this one shit on the news a couple weeks ago that made me sick.
Some dude was drunk and drove his car over a bridge,
and had his girlfriend in the trunk, and she was pregnant with his kid,
and in the car they found a tape, but they didn't say who it was to.
Come to think about, his name was... it was you.
Damn...

  • Fan Service: Of all kinds, he himself is a good example.
  • Flanderization: Nearly every song in Relapse had Eminem doing his various phony accents.
  • Flat What: In "Just Lose It", a male chorus's response to telling them to grab their left nuts.
  • Freudian Trio: His alter-egos:
  • Fridge Horror: In-universe example occurs in "Stan": "...come to think about it, his name was... it was you...Damn!".
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Most notably the radio edit and music video versions of "My Name Is", when the word "vodka" is replaced with "Kool-Aid" in the lyric, "I just drank a fifth of Kool-Aid, dare me to drive?"
    • The bowdlerised version of "Stan", when the censors removed a scene of the title character drinking while driving and the words "drank" and "vodka".
  • Gainax Ending: "Brain Damage"
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: "Guilty Conscience", with Dr. Dre as the good and Eminem as the bad.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: He revealed that he was jealous towards Lil Wayne and Kanye West during his hiatus, as he realized they were kicking ass and he was not doing much of anything.
  • Grossout Song: Several. "FACK" is a notable example, as is "Insane" - when speaking of the latter, Eminem said he wanted to make a song that made people want to puke.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Mentioned in "Underground":

Gave Hannibal Lecter a fuckin' nectarine
And sat him in a fuckin' fruit and vegetable section
And gave him a lecture

  • Heel Face Revolving Door
  • Hidden Depths: A rapper whose songs' material consists of murdering his wife, doing copious amounts of drugs, raping numerous people, and in some cases committing serial murder. And in his personal life he's banned swearing in his house and generally avoids the spotlight whenever possible. He also legally adopted and provides for his niece Alaina, stepdaughter Whitney, and younger half-brother Nathan.
    • Another secret of his: did you guys know he can draw, out of all things?
  • Hockey Mask and Chainsaw: He dressed up this way for one of his concerts.
  • Hot Dad
  • Horrorcore: Songs like "3 AM", "Kill You", "Same Song and Dance", and various lyrics in some of his songs qualify.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The entire Recovery album is littered with corny punchlines.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Averted. Em's third album was originally going to be called The Eminem LP, but he decided he was sick of the "LP" and replaced it with "Show" - see "Theme Naming" below.
  • "I Am" Song: A few, but most notably "My Name Is" and darker "The Way I Am".
  • I Am the Band: Parodied in the song "My Band".
  • I'm Your Biggest Fan: Stan. Oh, Stan.
    • To such an extent that the name "Stan" is actually used in some communities to refer to a megasuperobsessive fan.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: "Love the Way You Lie".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He can be rude and assholish, but he loves his kids and friends and has never really done anything worse than insult people.
    • "Crazy In Love" has shades of this as well.
  • Kids Are Cruel: D'Angelo Bailey, who is referenced in "Brain Damage", beat Marshall up so bad when he was 10 that he was put in a coma-and when he woke up, had to re-learn all his basic functions.
  • Large Ham: Oh, my...
  • Literal Metaphor/Not Hyperbole: He would give an arm for his daughter... which is why he tattooed her face on his right arm.
  • Loony Fan: "Stan", who doesn't understand that the Slim Shady persona is just that.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: That angry voice he can make... look at such songs as "Lose Yourself" or "Mosh" (which doubles as Anvilicious, but some anvils needed to be dropped.)
    • If you're the sort uncomfortable with Dead Baby Comedy, the faux-Indian accent Em puts on for some songs. For the rest of us, it's bleeding hilarious.
  • Mad Love: Eminem and Kim
  • Manly Tears: "Nobody wanted to fuck with the white boy, Dre, I'm cryin' in this booth!"
  • Masochism Tango : The history of his relationship with Kim is practically the definition of this trope
  • Memetic Outfit: Though he stopped wearing it, his jeans, white t-shirt and bleached blond hair was quite recognizable.
  • Mentors: His is Dr. Dre.
    • And Elton John, yes, really, Eminem asked him for advice on how to deal with his drug issues and Elton helped him.
  • Metaphorgotten: From "Roman's Revenge":

"I swear to God life is a Dumb Blonde white broad
With fake tits and a bad dye job
Just spit in my fucking face and called me a fucking tightwad
So finally I broke down and bought her a iPod
And caught her stealing my music
So I tied her arms and legs to the bed
Set up the camera, pissed twice on her, look, two peas and a tripod!"

  • Mind Screw: "As The World Turns"
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Eminem/Slim Shady really does not like people.
  • Money Song: Usually used as a Take That at other artists who like to brag about their wealth.
  • Morality Pet: Eminem's long-standing friendship with Elton John is often cited as proof that he's not actually homophobic.
    • Lampshaded on Recovery's "Untitled" "...'bout as rational as a rational fag's asshole / now take that line and run it up the flagpole with Elton / see if he's cool with it"
  • Motor Mouth: Yes, he's prone to this.
  • Mr. Fanservice: His good looks attracted whole new demographics to rap, and shot him to the the stardom he enjoys today.

"Shady's cute, Shady knew Shady's dimples would help/Make ladies swoon, baby (ooh baby!)/Look at my sales!"

  • Murder Ballad: "Kim", "3 AM".
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Would you trust a guy named Slim Shady?
  • New Sound Album: Production style switched to a more cinematic high end sound beginning with The Eminem Show.
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: "8 Mile".
  • N-Word Privileges: He doesn't get them.
  • Obsession Song: "Stan".
  • Ode to Sobriety: "Not Afraid", which is about him finally kicking his addictions.
  • Older Than They Look: He's almost 40 as of 2011 (yes, that photo is of him now), but he looks like he could pass for being no older than 25.
    • And when he was 30 in 8 Mile, he looked like he was about 20.
  • One-Scene Wonder: His guest appearances have a habit of outshining the host artist, like in Drake's song "Forever".
    • Or on "Drop the World" from the Lil Wayne rock album. Most people weren't fans of the album, except for the song Em was on.
      • Judging by the sales on-line, his appearance in "That's All She Wrote" on T.I.'s latest album is being viewed the same way.
      • Doubles as an And The Fandom Rejoiced because the last song they did together ("Touchdown") was godawful - Em actually admitted that he considers his verse on that song one of the worst he's ever made.
    • His duet with Jay Z, "Renegade", is the most literal example of this trope: Em's the only guest on the whole album. This was even lampshaded by Nas during his feud with Jay, saying "Eminem murdered you on your own shit!"
      • The ironic thing is that his verses were prerecorded before Jay Z got a hold of the track. It was originally supposed to be a Royce da 5'9" song[1].
  • Papa Wolf: Very, very protective of his beloved daughter Hailie. And although his Berserk Button has yet to be publicly pressed on the matter, he's very clear about the strong devotion he feels towards his three legally adopted children (niece Alaina, stepdaughter Whitney, and little brother Nathan) as well.
    • Quite simply, questioning or doubting Eminem's protective tendencies toward any of his children would be very unwise or downright stupid. Which Ja Rule learned the hard way...
  • The Parody
  • Pet the Dog: His homage to his home city of Detroit. Also his relationship with his daughter.
    • In the final verses of "Stan", Marshall shows a caring and compassionate side almost completely absent in most of his work.
  • Protest Song: "Mosh", aimed at then-U.S President George W. Bush.
    • "White America" has aspects of this, too.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: One could make a case for Slim Shady, with his Ax Crazy behavior and juvenile sense of humor.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Eminem is the vulgar, psychopathic, Red Oni also known as Evil who raps about smacking women, serial killings, drug use and rape. Royce is the crude, but somewhat smooth (when compared to Em anyways), Blue Oni also known as Bad who raps about gunplay, his rap skills, and taking your girl. It also helps that Em is usually casually dressed while Royce is in Gucci and other nice clothes.
  • Refuge in Audacity: It can be hard not to laugh out loud at his over-the-top absurdity: (From The Reunion)

She took my CD out the deck, snapped in half like, Relapse sucked
I snapped, hit the gas like
Blew through the light, spun out, hit a patch of black ice
Forgot we had a trailer hitch to the back, we jackknifed
Bitch flew out of the car
I laughed like, she deserved it/She didn't think I'd act like that in person

    • Also Royce's line from Fast Lane:
  • Refuge in Vulgarity
  • Sad Clown: Calls himself one in "Beautiful".
  • Sanity Slippage: "Stan", in which the first three verses consist of increasingly deranged letters from the Loony Fan of the song's title.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: "All I'm trying to say is get back, click-clack BLAOW"
    • "Time's up, over, BLAOW!"
  • Self-Titled Album: Arguably his first three, which would put him in Weezer territory...
  • Shirtless Scene: In his music videos, yum.
  • Shout-Out: "Without Me" music video. Eminem dresses up in a Robin-esque costume and becomes ‘Rap-Boy’ to save the day, preventing underage kids from listening to his controversial songs alone without parental advisory! There's a lot of shots on Eminem's crotch, by the way.
    • He does the same schtick with 50 Cent on another album, playing ‘Robbin’ to his ‘Gatman.’
    • A similar shoutout pops up on the Eminem Show in the track "Business", where Dr. Dre and Eminem play an Adam West-style intro ("To the Rapmobile!").
    • He is a comic book nerd.
    • From "As The World Turns" (Slim Shady LP): "Just trying to buy me some time, then I remembered this magic trick / Den Den Den Den DEN DEN, Go Go Gadget Dick!"
  • Sick and Wrong: Paul Rosenberg (Em's manager)'s track on Relapse has him blasting Em for his Christopher Reeve impression on the track "Medicine Ball" ("You know the guy's dead, right?") and expressing disgust at the content of "Insane" ("And the whole gay stepfather incest rape thing? I don't have your back on this one. I can't even fuckin' handle it. I'm done.").
  • Silliness Switch: "Without Me", "Just Lose It", "Ass Like That", "We Made You".
    • Especially the video to "Without Me", where he's dressed in Adam West-era Robin-esque outfit.
  • Spiritual Successor: "Drug Ballad" to "Cum On Everybody".
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "'97 Bonnie & Clyde". Which manages at the same time to be unbelievably sweet and unbelievably scary at the same time.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: See Ensemble Darkhorse in the YMMV tab.
  • Stalker with a Crush: "Stan" is a rare male/male version. Not only is there "My girlfriend's jealous 'cos I talk about you 24/7", but Stan also says that he and Eminem should be together. The video actually shows Stan taking a photo of himself and his girlfriend and covering her up with a picture of Eminem cut out of a magazine.
  • Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks: "Ass Like That".
  • Super Bowl Special: For Chrysler in 2011.
  • Take That: To just about everyone, including himself.
    • Take That, Audience!: The ‘public service announcement’ at the beginning of The Marshall Mathers LP proudly informs listeners that "by purchasing this album, you have just kissed [Eminem's] ass."
  • That Came Out Wrong: Lampshaded on "Evil Deeds":

What do I look like, a comedian to you/Do you think that I'm kidding/What do I look like, some kind of idi--/Wait a minute, shit, don't answer that."

Through this pen, motherfuckers know I'll never be Marshall again!

  • Theme Naming: His six major-label albums have been released with paired titles: the two LPs dealing with Slim Shady and Marshall Mathers, The Eminem Show and its Encore (you could also count Curtain Call in here), and the cycle of Relapse and Recovery (which was originally Relapse 2).
  • This Is a Song: From "Not Afraid":

I shouldn't have to rhyme these words and the rhythm for you to know it's a RAP!

"Remember when Ronnie died and you said you wished it was me?
Well, guess what? I am dead, dead to you as can be!"


... I'm just playin', ladies. You know I love you.

  1. the "Jigga-Ji-Jigga" near the end of Em's first verse was recorded over the words "Royce, the king of Detroit" when Jay picked it up