Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, the rap god and king of hip-hop, is a real musical phenomenon, whether you like him or not. He is indisputably the most recognizable and unique rapper on the planet, and over the years, the world has witnessed a fair share of drama unfold around his persona. We have watched him rise to fame and glory from a place accurately described in his song ‘Rock Bottom.’ We watched his roller-coaster marriage with ex-wife Kimberly Mathers shrivel up, and then fall back together, only to fall apart once more. His love for his daughters, which inspired a number of his songs, the most famous being ‘Hailie’s Song’, touched the souls and hearts of millions of fans worldwide.
We also watched Eminem battle his drug addiction (another roller-coaster) with sobriety, relapse, and thankfully, sobriety again. The list of things we know about him as an artist and as a person just goes on and on. He is truly among the most relatable people in the music industry, not just because of his personal life becoming public domain, but also because of the way he has always stood up for himself, against anyone. We’ve gathered some of these personal details on the following list, as well as some other less-known facts that are sure to surprise you.
15. Subject Of A US Secret Service Investigation
Nearly any artist, related to the genre of hip-hop will one way or another have some kind of trouble with the legal authorities, and so did Eminem. Though nothing severe ever happened in this sense, the allegations that the famous rapper was faced with were rather serious – after all, of all the government agencies, how many musicians attract the attention of the Secret Service? And all of this was caused by the song ‘We Are Americans’. More specifically, the investigation was triggered by the verse “F**k money / I don’t rap for dead presidents / I’d rather see the president dead”, which led law enforcement to suspect that Mathers was actually threatening the US president George W. Bush.
14. Sued By His Mom For $10 Million
Talk about family drama, right? Well, despite the practice of parents and children mutually suing each other becoming a less shocking thing over the decades… it’s still quite shocking. And can you guess what it was over? You guessed it – another song. This time the piece that got him in trouble was the single ‘My Name Is’, which apparently hurt mother’s feelings. The verse she claimed to have ‘defamed’ Debbie Mathers was “My mother does more dope than I do“. Clearly offended by the words of the song, whether or not she first tried to discuss the matter with her son prior to taking other action, Eminem’s mother took to court and filed a lawsuit for defamation against him for $10 million. But in this case, as well, Marshall Mathers was able to come out of the situation unscathed, with his mom being awarded only $1,600.
13. Arrested For A Drive-By Shooting
Yet another incident involving the law. And if you haven’t noticed the pattern here yet, folks, this one didn’t bear any major consequences for the rapper either. In fact, the whole story was a lot less grave than it sounds. First of all – and try not to laugh – the weapon of choice for this blood-chilling crime was a paintball gun. And Eminem wasn’t even holding it, he was the driver in this situation. Nevertheless, the now-famous rapper was arrested for this offense and even went to court, only to be faced with the empty chair of the accusing party. The victim never appeared for the hearing and the case was dismissed – yet another miraculous save for Marshall.
12. Elton John Helped Him Battle Addiction
We’re betting you didn’t see this one coming. We know Eminem is a star of epic proportions, but to think that a rapper from the US was this close with music legend Sir Elton John. In fact, Elton John had a tremendous impact on Eminem’s recovery from his addiction to Vicodin, Ambien and a number of other drugs. At one point the problem had become so bad, that Marshall ended up in the hospital with an amount of ingested methadone equal to four bags of heroin. It’s amazing that he even survived that, but after the incident Elton John was the one who helped pull him out of that awful place. Em said that the elder artist acted like a sponsor to him and guided him to seeing the beauty of the little things in life, like the trees and the color of the leaves.
However, it appears that the two have been enjoying a friendly relationship a while before Elton John became a sponsor of sorts to Eminem, as a very extravagant gesture of the latter would suggest. As revealed by John himself, the hip-hop star sent him a gift of two diamond c**k rings for his civil partnership. The present was well-received and the two still laugh about it today.
11. Eminem Only Read One Book
And it was I Make My Own Rules by LL Cool J. That seems a bit unreal, even for someone of Marshall Mathers’ social background, but more so because of his insane vocabulary, which he has impressively demonstrated from one song to the next. As if his unique flow and style weren’t recognizable enough, Eminem’s lyrics are definitely known for their richness and verbal diversity. So how did the rap god achieve this fantastic knowledge of words? He studied a dictionary (so make that 2 books if reference books count). Em would spend hours at night, reading up on new words in order to expand his own lyrical horizons and we have to admit – it worked.
And just to illustrate how incredibly skilled Eminem is with his words, a study of 93 of the top selling music artists in over 25 different genres determined that Eminem had the widest vocabulary of the lot. He surpassed other artists like Bob Dylan, Tupac and even Jay Z with the immense number of 8,818 unique words used in his tracks.
10. Refused To Perform At The Oscars
One of the reasons why Eminem is beloved by so many is the fact that he doesn’t play by the rules. Standing up for yourself and what you believe in has always been an admirable quality and Marshall Mathers made it very clear that he is a man of principle by refusing to perform arguably his most well-known song ‘Lose Yourself’ at the Oscars. The reason? He was requested to sing the ‘clean’, radio-friendly version of the song, which he opposed, announcing it would either be the original version or none at all.
And that wasn’t the only time Mathers stood up for this particular piece. In fact, he fought to make this track the theme song for the movie 8 Mile, whereas the producers were first inclined to use ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’. And just how right Eminem was to advocate ‘Lose Yourself’, which went on to become the first ever rap song to win an Academy Award.
9. Was Bullied As A Child
Bullying in school isn’t something new, and unfortunately, kids can be cruel. But future rap god Eminem was faced with a whole new level of cruel, and was targeted for being small. When he was only nine years old, he was beaten so severely, his injuries sent him into a coma for over a week. Because of this past, it’s said that his music can bring people out of a comatose state, and there are a number of recorded instances to support this statement. He’s also had his fair share of fist fights, and once was even shot at, while walking to his girlfriend’s house.
But his bully encounters didn’t end there. Already on his way to becoming the idol he is today, Eminem had a $1 million lawsuit filed against him by his high school bully, where the latter claimed that the single ‘Brain Damage’ had damaged his reputation. Luckily, common sense prevailed and the case was dismissed.
8. Gave Up the Lead In Elysium
Yes, if not for Eminem’s harsh principles, it could have been him in Matt Damon‘s lead playing the character of Max Da Costa in Elysium. Neill Blomkamp, the director and producer of the 2013 science fiction action thriller, first offered the part to Eminem, for whom it had already been nearly a decade since his debut in acting. And what would you expect got in the way? Mathers had one condition, under which he said he would take the offer and that was if the movie would be shot in Detroit – his hometown. For better or worse – that we’ll never know – Tristar Pictures and Media Rights Capital (the two film studios in charge) decided against Em’s locale and Matt Damon got the part.
7. Can’t Use A Computer
Granted, that may be slightly exaggerated, but the truth is that Marshall Mathers isn’t at all well-acquainted with modern technology. He had been spotted using a flip phone back in 2011, when most people were already crazed about smartphones. He later reportedly upgraded to a Blackberry. It’s also been said that he only uses email for communication (rarely uses social media) and uses his phone to call a handful of very close people. But none of this seems to bother Eminem much. In fact, much on the contrary, as he pointed out in an interview, he would prefer to keep things the way they are, as if he were to master working with a computer, he would be stuck on it all the time, reading comments about him. That would essentially “drive him crazy” and according to his manager, Eminem actually takes any review or blog he reads very personally, leaving him dwelling on it for a while after he’s finished reading it. Can’t have that.
6. He’s Three People In One
To those familiar with all three names of the artist, you might as well be using them interchangeably. However, that wouldn’t be very accurate, as turns out each of Eminem’s stage names and his real one represent a different person. Marshall Mathers, as he explains, is him – the person behind the masks, the shy, introverted guy. Eminem is the artist, the performer and super successful rapper, with all the fame and glory. And Slim Shady is a persona developed as a result of a group decision of the band D12. Formed by Eminem and his friends, the members initially aimed to create a band with Detroit’s best twelve rappers, but seeing as they only found 6, each of them was to create an alter-ego to “fill in the gaps”. That is how Slim Shady came to be, whom Marshall describes as an angry character, the guy with an attitude, who keeps spurting uncomfortable truths and controversies. Though, despite comparing Slim Shady to a fictional character, Mathers confesses to simply using him “as an excuse to be an a**hole”.
5. He Failed 9th Grade… Three Times
And it’s not because he was stupid or difficult, or any of that. Young Marshall Mathers simply wasn’t interested in what school had to offer. All the high schooler could think of at the time was perfecting his rap skills. Thus, after trying and failing three times to finish ninth grade, he finally gave up and dropped out. Shortly after this, his mother forced him to get a job to help pay the bills, after which, as the artist recalls, she would take almost all of his paycheck and kick him out. But these hardships wouldn’t discourage him and, when not at work, he would use every spare minute of his time (especially those when his mother would leave to play bingo) to practice his art.
4. World Record For Most Words In A Song
The term ‘lyrical genius’ would be no other than fitting for Eminem. We’ve already established that he has the largest vocabulary of any other successful musician, regardless of genre. But what happens when you try to shove as much of it as you can in a single song? You enter the Guinness Book of World Records, of course! With a total of 1,560 words in it, Eminem’s hit single ‘Rap God’ takes the cake for highest number of words in a song. And with the track being 6:04 long, that results in an average rapping speed of 4.28 words per second. Average. There’s a 15-second long section in the song with a whopping 97 words in it, putting the speed of that particular segment at the superhuman 6.5 words per second.
3. Huge Comic Book Fan
Yup, Eminem didn’t always dream of becoming a world famous rapper. There was a time, when he saw himself coming up with exciting stories, featuring superheroes and villains, and then putting them all on paper in the form of comic books. His love for them is still pretty apparent even today and you can trace it across his different animated threads, specifically his ‘Mosh’ video and the Slim Shady Show series. You may or may not believe it, but Eminem also has a pretty impressive comic book collection himself and he actually heavily relied on comics while in rehab to “fill the void”, left by the alcohol and drugs he had been abusing. But the best part is that the renowned rapper appeared in Marvel’s Eminem/ Punisher #1 comic, which was published in 2009. It features his alter-ego Slim Shady, who joins forces with Frank Castle, aka the Punisher – the superhero vigilante.
2. He Sued Universal For Royalties
This is rather remarkable, for a number of reasons. First of all, back when iTunes was barely becoming a thing, Universal Music Group had the practice of deducting artist’s iTunes royalties. And the reasoning behind this was these were the costs for packaging and breakage. On downloads. Today this sounds beyond absurd, but back in those days this was all still new territory for most artists in the industry, so everyone went along with it. Until Eminem (the guy who isn’t on the friendliest of terms with technology) finally sued them. This way he pretty much became a hero in the music world, putting a stop to artists being cheated of their digital royalties.
1. Often Recorded While High
Eminem’s substance abuse is more or less common knowledge, but there are certain specifics that have evaded becoming all that well-known, such as for example the role it played in his creative process. Did you know that he and Dr. Dre were taking ecstasy throughout the whole process of both writing and recording Eminem’s first album? The same is true for a large part of his second album, too. According to the artist himself, the drug would “exaggerate” things, magnifying the good, but also painting anything negative completely black. So, as helpful as it may have been in fueling his creativity, it also caused issues. In an interview for Music 360, Eminem pointed out that ecstasy and magic mushrooms were the hardest things he’d ever messed with.