Eminem Turns 40: The Real Slim Shady, from Angry Teenager to Rap Mogul, A Look Back

By Danica Bellini | Oct 18, 2012 04:20 PM EDT
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Eminem turned the big 4-0 on Wednesday, October 17 - in honor of Slim Shady's birthday, here's a look back at his brilliant success as a solo artist and his transformation from an angry, damaged teenager to a millionaire rap mogul. Four decades in the making, Marshall Mathers doesn't look like he's about to slow down anytime soon.

1996, Infinite: Eminem's debut solo album released through Web Entertainment. Although a commercial failure (it only sold about 1,000 copies), many reviews criticized the album's production but praised Eminem's lyrical ability.

1999, The Slim Shady LP: The lyrics that embody the songs on Em's second studio album are noted for their over-the-top depictions of violence and heavy use of profanity. The record debuted at no 2 on the Billboard Top 200 and features hits including "My Name Is," "97 Bonnie and Clyde," and "Just Don't Give a F##k." It won a Grammy for Best Rap Album and in 2003 was ranked number 273 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Looks like Slim Shady finally made it. 

2000, The Marshall Mathers LP: Eminem's third album sold over 1.76 million copies in the U.S. in the first week of its release. Like the album before, Rolling Stone ranked this one no 244 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2010, Rhapsody ranked it no 1 on their "The 10 Best Albums by White Rappers" list. The record won Mathers another Grammy and was even nominated for Album of the Year. It was eventually certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America. Hits include "The Real Slim Shady," "Stan," and "The Way I Am."

2002, The Eminem Show: This record became Eminem's third LP in four years to win the Grammy for Best Rap Album. It debuted at no 1 on Billboard's Top 200, and it also received a diamond certification. It ranked no 317 on Stone's 500 list. In an interview with MTV, Em admitted that he felt this was his "best record so far." Songs like "Without Me," "Cleanin' out my Closet," and "Sing for the Moment" are still widely played on popular radio stations today.

2004, Encore: Although some critics deemed Eminem's lyrics too "simplistic" compared to previous albums, the record was nominated for three Grammys and sold 11 million copies nine months after its release. The album made digital history in becoming the first album to sell 10,000 digital copies in one week. Lyrical themes still surrounded the dysfunctional relationship with his ex-wife Kim and his parents, as well as his opposition towards then-president George W. Bush.

2009, Relapse: Following a four-year hiatus due to writer's block and an addiction to prescription sleeping pills, Eminem debuted his sixth studio album at no 1 on the Billboard Top 200. The record sold 5 million copies worldwide and earned Slim Shady two more Grammys. Eminem claimed this album represented the end to his drug rehabilitation and his re-addiction to rap and his Slim Shady alter ego. "Crack a Bottle" and "3 a.m." made the cut on this album.

2010, Recovery: This album features more introspective and emotional content, with production help from a number of producers including Dr. Dre, Alex da Kid, and Jim Jonsin. "Not Afraid" and "Love the Way you Lie" (featuring Rihanna) became international hits. It wass the best-selling album of 2010 and has sold approximately six million copies worldwide.

2013: Eminem's highly-anticipated eighth studio album is set to be released in the upcoming year through Aftermath Entertainment, Shady Records, and Interscope Records.

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