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Grammy-winning rapper Eminem has been a force to be reckoned with in hip-hop for over two decades. The Detroit-bred emcee has several hit songs and albums to his name. But before he was the world-famous rapper Eminem, he was unknown and looking to make his moniker a household name.

Eminem pointing up
Eminem | Christopher Polk/Getty Images for MTV

Eminem broke out at the turn of the century

Eminem first started writing raps when he was in high school. By the late 1990s, Eminem was on his way up after the release of his debut EP, The Slim Shady EP. Slim Shady was Eminem’s alter ego that was notably more explicit than Marshall Mathers was, rapping candidly about things Eminem dealt with in his personal life including drug use, sex, mental instability, poverty, and violence.

Eminem released his breakout album The Marshall Mathers LP in 2000, and was a way for fans of the artist to get to know the person behind Slim Shady. The album sold nearly 2 million copies in its first week and produced hit singles such as “The Real Slim Shady”, “The Way I Am”, “Stan”, “I’m Back” and “B**** Please II.”

Eminem’s stage name comes from his real name

Eminem came from humble beginnings to become one of the 21st century’s highest-selling artists across the board, and not just in hip-hop. But when he was a high schooler just starting to rap, he never imagined he’d be the superstar Eminem.

When he first started rapping with his high-school friend Mike Ruby, the duo adopted the names “Manix” and “M&M.” Eminem chose his name from his initials, but eventually changed it to what we know today. Given the similarity of the M&M name to the popular candy, it’s unlikely he would have been able to get away with much as an unknown rapper with that specific name.

Eminem and his partner in rhyme started recording their own tracks in Ruby’s basement at the turn of the 1990s. By the beginning of the next decade, Eminem’s name would be known all around the world.


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Eminem’s career today

Eminem’s star only continued to rise throughout the 2000s and 2010s. His 2002 album The Eminem Show has sold over 27 million copies sold worldwide, and it remains one of the best-selling albums of all time and the second best-selling album of the 21st century. By the time he released his album Music To Be Murdered By in 2020, his status in the genre stood uncontested.

To date, Eminem has released 11 solo albums and has 15 Grammy Awards to his name. In 2002, his hit song “Lose Yourself” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. And those years of hard work are evident in his estimated net worth: $230 million, according to Stylecaster.

In 2022, the hip-hop icon was part of the Super Bowl LVI halftime show. The “Stan” rapper performed alongside other greats including Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige.