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For years, Detroit-bred rapper Eminem has been known to many people by the name Slim Shady. He created the alter ego early on in his career and has kept the moniker alive since. And like many other great artistic ideas, Eminem came up with Slim Shady while he was in the bathroom.

Eminem performing at the 2002 MTV Movie Awards
Eminem | M. Caulfield/WireImage

Eminem created his Slim Shady alter ego early in his career

In the 1990s, Eminem sought to stake his claim in the hip-hop industry as a rapper. He released his debut album Infinite in 1996, but things didn’t improve for him: he continued dealing with substance abuse and even attempted suicide.

Soon, Eminem found an outlet for himself. He developed the character Slim Shady, who is a violent emcee with no filter and a no-f***s-given attitude. Eminem released his debut EP The Slim Shady EP in 1997, and throughout the project, he established his relationship between the two personas: Eminem was nothing without Slim Shady, and they eventually morphed into one person.

Eminem continued working hard to make a name for himself in the industry. He appeared in the popular “Unsigned Hype” column in The Source magazine, where stars such as The Notorious B.I.G. have been discovered.

In 1999, he released his sophomore album, The Slim Shady LP, fronted by the hit lead single “My Name Is.” The following year, he released The Marshall Mathers LP as a more personal look into who Eminem was as a person.

Slim Shady was born on the toilet

The early days of Eminem’s career weren’t glamorous, to say the least. In 1999, the 24-year-old rapper spoke with Rolling Stone about his rise to stardom and his approach to music.

When discussing his Slim Shady character, he admitted that Slim Shady came from a dark place, but inspired him to take his rap career to the next level. The inspiration for the alter ego came while he was sitting on the toilet.

“Boom, the name hit me, and right away I thought of all these words to rhyme with it,” he said proudly. “So I wiped my a**, got up off the pot, and went and called everybody I knew.”


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Eminem’s career today

Of course, Eminem went on to become one of the most successful hip-hop artists in history. Only seven hip-hop albums in history have ever achieved diamond certification with over 10 million copies sold, and Eminem is the only artist to hold two of those diamond records: his 2000 album The Marshall Mathers LP and 2002’s The Eminem Show.

Eminem’s career took off in the early 2000s and continued to grow over the following two decades. At the turn of the 2010s, he earned three No. 1 singles with “Crack a Bottle,” “Not Afraid,” and the Rihanna collab “Love the Way You Lie.”

In 2022, his legacy is clear as he joined other hip-hop legends Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige for a star-studded Super Bowl halftime show.