Timeline: The Reign of Eminem

A look at one of the most dominating artist in music history

Marshall Bruce Mathers III, aka Slim Shady, aka Eminem, celebrates his 39th birthday today.

Most people know the story of how Eminem went from a trailer park in Detroit to super-stardom; selling millions of hit records, starring in a successful film and becoming one of the world’s most sought after producers. And while his music and lyrics have earned him international fame, they’ve also earned him notoriety. Because the rapper has proven time and time again that nothing, and no one, is safe when it comes to his lyrics.

Slim has been involved in TEN #1 albums, sold 90 million solo records, and has been voted the best rapper of all time in a endless list of polls. His resume of accomplishments are long, too long to list them all, but we’ll give you a few.

1996- Infinite: In 1996, Em released his debut album under independent label Web Entertainment, owned by the Bass Brothers. He also performed with fellow Detroit emcee Royce da 5’9” under the name Bad Meets Evil. In this early stage of his career, Eminem’s rapping delivery was reminiscent of AZ; barely resembling the shocking multi-syllable staccato style he implements today.

1997 – Eminem places second at the Rap Olympics and Jimmy Iovine of Interscope requests a demo. Iovine played the tape for Dr. Dre and they began work on an album.

1998 – Source Magazine features Slim in their “Unsigned Hype” column.

1999 – The Slim Shady LP: Eminem storms on the mainstream scene with his major label debut on Aftermath/Interscope records and shocks the world with his newly refined approach to lyricism. The single “My Name Is,” blows up the charts. The LP reached #2 on the US charts and went 4x Platinum and sold nearly five-million copies. Eminem and manager Paul Rosenberg found Shady Records soon after the release of the LP.

2000 – The Marshall Mathers LP: The second label release shot to the #1 spot on the charts and unlike most artists who have a huge first release, Eminem grew stronger and more polished. The album was certified Diamond and sold 19 million copies worldwide, including nealry 2 million in the first week.

2001 - Eminem produces and collaborates with Jay-Z on the song “Renegade”, off Jay-Z’s sixth album, The Blueprint.

2002 - The Eminem Show: This was the peak of Eminem’s career. He rapped about his troubles in the media, his ex-wife Kim, the law, his daughter Haley and his turmoil dealing with his new found fame. The album debuted at #1 and stayed there. The album was also certified Diamond and sold 19 million albums worldwide for the second time in a row. Eminem also made his debut on the silver screen in 8 Mile and the single “Lose Yourself” from the film’s soundtrack became the first rap song to ever win an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

2004 – Encore: The decline of his career if you can even call it that began with Encore. The album sold half of his previous two. This was also the beginning of Em’s usage of a distinct comical voice in his raps that plagued fans yearning for that original dark lyricist he once was. The album didn’t match his previous releases in content or sales but was still certified 4x Platinum and sold 11 million copies worldwide. It was hardly a failure.

2009 – Relapse: Showing signs of fatigue, battling with drug-addiction and the media, Eminem’s comeback, Relapse continued the slide of sales. The album’s main focus was on Slim’s battle with opiates and other drugs; proving to be one of Eminem’s most dark and abstract albums. The decline in sales didn’t have much to do with the content of the album but mostly because of the recession and music taking on a new form in the digital world. The days of albums going Diamond were over for everyone. Relapse was still certified double-platinum and sold 5 million copies worldwide.

2010 – Recovery: Eminem came back strong in true form with his seventh album and improved in sales from his previous release in a down economy with several chart topping singles. The album was a breath of fresh air from Slim as he celebrated 2 years of being sober and became more of a positive presence in rap music with inspirational songs such as “Not Afraid”. Em would later go on to execute the Home & Home Tour with fellow Hip Hop icon Jay-Z in their respective cities of Detroit and New York.

2011 – Hell: The Sequel: Slim Shady’s most recent project is a collaborative EP with newly signed Shady Records artist and old friend Royce Da 5’9. This EP was met with positive critical acclaim and debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200.

This year, Nielsen Sound Scan announced that Eminem has sold 33 million songs downloaded in the U.S. alone and is the only artist in history to have two #1 albums at year-end. All in all the MC has had one hell of a career and he’s done all of this and much more before the age of 40.

Although he’s had a difficult and trying existence in the spotlight he’s managed to change the public’s overall perception of what a rapper should look like, going from a minority to ruling the hip-hop world. There’s no doubt that he’ll only continue to awe the world with his talent.

What’s your favorite Eminem moment? Let us know in the comment section.

TST’s Mark Noisiri and Sindy Lucas contributed to this feature.

    • http://facebook pranav hol

      today is the b’day of our god………………………………………….all hail eminem

    • Elle

      His encore performance at Lollapalooza this year. The energy and passion he exhibited was matched by everyone in attendance and the stamina he has on stage is a physical display of his commitment to being sober. As always – Eminem is grateful to his fans and he closed that concert with an emotional show of gratitude. Beyond his immense pure lyrical brilliance is someone who is loyal to his art and to his fan base. All of this was evident at Lollapalooza.

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