On This Day February 23rd 1999
Eminem drops his first major-label album, The Slim Shady LP. He quickly becomes the most controversial rapper in the game.
In the mid-'90s, Eminem made a name for himself at rap battles and open mics in the Detroit area, and in 1996 released an independent album, Infinite, that bombed. His fortunes improved the next year when Dr. Dre heard his demo and signed him to his Aftermath label, producing three tracks for his debut, including the first single, "My Name Is," where Em introduced his alter-ego, Slim Shady.
With outlandish rhymes about impregnating a Spice Girl and living with a mother who smokes more dope than he does, the song gets a lot of attention as listeners try to figure out exactly who this guy is. The answer: a 24-year-old white rapper whose real name is Marshall Mathers but calls himself Eminem (because of his initials M&M) and sometimes raps in character as Slim Shady, who is pure id. He's Dre-approved, with a hardscrabble upbringing that earns him credibility in the rap community.
When The Slim Shady LP lands, it both delights and offends, garnering lots of media coverage and quickly selling a few million copies. It's clear that he really doesn't give a f--k (seriously - there's a song on the album called "Just Don't Give a F--k"), which makes him all the more intriguing. He proves his staying power with a successful follow-up, The Marshall Mathers LP, and a starring role in 8 Mile, a movie loosely based on his life.
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