Focus on Eminem.

Our focus today is on Eminem and his early life and rise to stardom.

Mathers was born on October 17, 1972, in St. Joseph, Missouri. He is the only child of Marshall Bruce Mathers, Jr. (born June 30, 1951, and known
as Bruce) and Deborah Rae Nelson (born January 6, 1955, and known as Debbie). Eminem is of English, German, Scottish and Swiss descent. Debbie was 14 when she met 18-year-old Bruce; at age 17, she nearly died during her 73-hour labor. Eminem’s parents were in a band called Daddy Warbucks, playing in Ramada Inns along the Dakotas-Montana border before their separation. Bruce left the family, moving to California and having two other children: Michael and Sarah (born c. 1982). Debbie later had a son, Nathan Kane Samara, born February 3, 1986 also known as Nate. During his childhood Eminem and Debbie shuttled between Missouri
and Michigan, rarely staying in one house for more
than a year or two and living primarily with family
members. In Missouri they lived in several places,
including Saint Joseph, Savannah and Kansas City, before settling in Warren, Michigan when Eminem was eleven. As a teenager, Eminem wrote letters to his father; according to
Debbie, all came back marked “Return to sender.” Friends and family remember Eminem as a happy child, but “a bit of a loner” who was
often bullied. One bully, De’Angelo Bailey, severely
injured Eminem in the head; Debbie Nelson filed a
lawsuit against the school in 1982, which was dismissed the following year. Eminem spent much of his youth in a lower-middle-
class, primarily African-American Detroit neighborhood. He and Debbie were one of three white households on their block, and Eminem
was beaten by African-American youths several times. As a child he was interested in storytelling, aspiring to be a comic-book artist before discovering hip hop. Eminem heard his first rap song (“Reckless”, featuring Ice-T) at age nine on the Breakin’ soundtrack, a gift from Debbie’s half-brother Ronald (Ronnie) Polkinghorn.
When Polkinghorn committed suicide ten years
later, Eminem stopped speaking for days and did not attend his funeral. His home life was seldom stable; Eminem
frequently fought with his mother, who was
described by a social worker as having a “very
suspicious, almost paranoid personality.” When her
son became famous Debbie bristled at suggestions
that she was a less-than-ideal mother, contending that she sheltered him and was responsible for his
success. In 1987, Debbie allowed runaway Kimberly
Ann (Kim) Scott to stay at their home; several
years later, Eminem began an on-and-off relationship with Kim. After spending three years in ninth grade due to truancy and poor grades, he dropped out of Lincoln High School at age 17. Although he was interested in English, he never explored literature (preferring comic books) and disliked math and social studies. Eminem worked at several jobs to help his mother
pay the bills, later maintaining that she often
threw him out of the house anyway. When she left
to play bingo, he would blast the stereo and write songs. At age 14, he began rapping with high-school
friend Mike Ruby; they adopted the names “Manix” and “M&M,” which evolved into “Eminem”.Eminem sneaked into neighboring Osborn High School with friend and fellow rapper Proof for lunchroom freestyle rap battles. On Saturdays they attended open-mic contests at the Hip-Hop
Shop on West 7 Mile, considered ground-zero for the Detroit rap scene. Struggling to succeed in a predominantly African-American industry,
Eminem was appreciated by underground hip hop audiences. When he wrote verses, he wanted most of the words to rhyme; he wrote long
words or phrases on paper and, underneath, worked on rhymes for each syllable. Although the words often made little sense, the drill helped Eminem practice sounds and rhymes.


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