5 Early Eminem Singles & Their Stories

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We take a look back at five of Eminem's early singles.

When Eminem started posting annotations to his verses on Genius, his fan base went wild looking for personal anecdotes like miners digging for gold. We not only got a glimpse of Eminem's raw humor, the lyrical prodigy let us peek into Marshall Mathers' transformation from trailer trash to rap icon.

We've decided to delve into the emcee's annotations to provide you with backstories to five of his greatest hits while giving you a glimpse into Slim Shady's journey. Take a look at some of the stories Em shared over the years.

Is it time for a new album yet?


Just Don't Give A Fuck (1998)

5 Early Eminem Singles & Their Stories

Some critics complained that Eminem sounded like AZ back on his failed debut LP Infinite. According to his longtime friends and members of D12, this is what pushed the young emcee to find a new persona, a unique voice. Speaking to DJ Vlad, Bizarre explained, "Basically the whole thing of D12 is everybody has an alter ego, so try to be the villain, a person completely different from who you are."

While haters were giving him a hard time for being a white rapper in a black medium, Em was almost down and out. Days before his daughter's first birthday -- five days before Christmas -- Eminem got fired from his cooking job at Gilbert's Lodge. That's when he came up with his Slim Shady alter ego.

"Boom, the name hit me, and right away I thought of all these words to rhyme with it," he says. "So I wiped my ass, got up off the pot and, ah, went and called everybody I knew."

My Name Is (1999)

5 Early Eminem Singles & Their Stories

As legend tells it, Dre and Em were like blood brothers in the studio. They fed off each other and put out hits year after year. In a 1999 interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Em reveals how they would pop ecstasy pills while working on his albums. "He didn't say that!" said Dr. Dre in the same article. "It's true, though. We get in there, get bugged out, stay in the studio for fuckin' two days. Then you're dead for three days. Then you wake up, pop the tape in, like, 'Let me see what I've done.'" 

In another 1999 interview with Davey D on Breakdown Radio, Em said he was forced to change the lyrics to "My Name Is" because he used a certain sample while joking about the LGBT community. In exchange for his sample though, the proprietor wanted money and requested that Em alter lyrics.

"He played foul. He did not see the humor in it that he should have seen," Em said. "When you listen to the album you're going to able to tell when Slim Shady is for real or when he's joking. Anybody with half a brain is going to be able to know."

Role Model (1999)

5 Early Eminem Singles & Their Stories

Right after "Just Don't Give A Fuck" and "My Name Is," "Role Model" is the third single Em ever released. His legions of detractors have accused him -- as a matter of fact, they still do -- of promoting misogyny, homophobia and domestic violence. Yet, from the start, Mathers was adamant he never intended on becoming a role model for his fans. 

"My album isn't for younger kids to hear," Eminem told Rolling Stone in 1999. "It has an advisory sticker, and you must be eighteen to get it. That doesn't mean younger kids won't get it, but I'm not responsible for every kid out there.

Em created his bars the way he would have for a rap battle in an effort to distance himself from all the other emcees at the time. Still, despite his reluctance to serve as a paragon, rappers young and old credit the Slim Shady LP as an inspiration. Later on, when a reporter asked him about hip hop artists' fondness for collecting parental advisory labels, Em had this to say: "It's just music, it's just entertainment, how many R-rated movies come out? It's all it is. It's a rated R movie on wax."

Stan (2002)

5 Early Eminem Singles & Their Stories

Some of Em's anecdotes on Genius are just tongue-in-cheek jabs at readers or even other recording artists. The story of how a doped up engineer scrapped half a verse on "Stan" is hilarious and sad at the same time because Em swears it was even better than what he ended up recording. In an interview he did while shooting the video, he explains that the first year of fame is the hardest part because of all the distractions.

"It's so easy to get caught up in this game and become addicted to drugs, become a fuckin' alcoholic, make your life go completely out of control [...] because shit happens so fast. I didn't know what the fuck was going on," he says. "It just seemed like a blur to me when I look back on it."

Eminem said he intended on dropping an album once a year, every month of March until he became a drug addict himself.

Lose Yourself (2002)

5 Early Eminem Singles & Their Stories

"Lose Yourself" arguably finds Em at his lyrical peak. The track was recorded for the movie 8 Mile and stands as one of the Detroit rapper's most enduring classics. In an interview with Rolling Stone at the time the movie was released in theaters, he made the distinction between himself and Jimmy "Rabbit" Smith Jr., the character he plays. Nevertheless, certain aspects of the film did belong to him

"I don't play me in the movie," he said. "There are similarities because I sat down with Scott Silver, the script writer, and told him instances from my life that were used in the movie, some exactly the way they happened, some a little bit different."

The struggle is real and that's why the lines in "Lose Yourself" hit listeners to their core. As Em explains it on Genius, near the end of the track, he shifts focus from the fictional Rabbit to his own life story:

In the same interview for the movie, Em admitted that had his rap career not worked out he would either still be working at Gilbert's Lodge or he "would have gone postal at Gilbert's Lodge."

"My music is my shrink, you know," he said "The world is my fuckin' therapist. I tell the world my problems, and that's it."

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