The journey of Eminem from the streets of Detroit to the top of the charts has been wild. He first got noticed after a star-making turn in the 1997 Rap Olympics, snagging second place. Interscope Records CEO Jimmy Iovine immediately set Eminem and Dr. Dre to work on tracks for Em's major-label debut. The resultant Slim Shady LP, released in 1999, matched Em's verbose, highly technical flow to bottom-heavy boom bap from Dr. Dre and the Bass Brothers. It would go on to sell 9 million copies worldwide thanks to brash, irreverent singles like the introductory "My Name Is" and the Dre-assisted "Guilty Conscience."

Eminem bounced back in 2000 with The Marshall Mathers LP, which very nearly cracked the record for best album sales in a single week, selling 1.79 million copies within its first seven days of release. The Marshall Mathers LP was angrier than The Slim Shady LP. The record found Em lampooning a litany of targets, from his mother to his girlfriend to a laundry list of pop stars, none of which stopped the album from selling over 19 million copies all over the world.

In 2002, Eminem branched out a little. That year's The Eminem Show found him expanding his repertoire, tackling subject matter like race, politics, and his daughter, Hailie. Eminem notably produced most of The Eminem Show himself. Later in the year, Eminem landed his first major acting gig, playing the lead in the largely biographical blockbuster, 8 Mile. The 8 Mile soundtrack was a success, as well. Eminem's motivational anthem "Lose Yourself" won him two Grammys and an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a first for a hip-hop artist.

Eminem returned with Encore in 2004. The album was a success, spawning hit singles "Just Lose It" and "Mockingbird" and selling tens of millions of copies, but fans scoffed at the album's content. The album was fraught with silly voices, toilet humor and oddball gibberish couplets. Following Encore, Eminem took a vacation from rhyming that many took to be a retirement. It would later be revealed that the rapper was in the throes of an addiction to prescription medication, which would be discussed in great detail on his 2009 comeback, Relapse. Relapse featured a much more focused, though no less controversial, Eminem. He told stories of his life of pill crazed debauchery over beats by Dr. Dre. Recovery was released in 2010. Its lead single, "Not Afraid," was the most direct and mature work of the foul-mouthed rapper's career to date. ~Craig Jenkins

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