In 2001, Eminem had everything going for him. The previous year, he had catapulted into superstardom with the release of his magnum opus, The Marshall Mathers LP, which became the fastest selling rap album in history. And going into the Grammys, he had to like his chances: He had unexpectedly won the Grammy for Best Rap Album for his debut, The Slim Shady LP, and there was an uneasy tension that maybe he won it because he was white.
However, Em was a lighting rod for controversy, especially because of his perceived homophobia. But at the show, Em went on stage with Elton John and they did an incredible rendition of Em's hit "Stan" right before Best Album was awarded. The stage was set and it felt like Em was destined to win but it wasn't meant to be. Steely Dan, a band whose popularity had peaked in the '70s, won the award, and took away the best chance of a hardcore hip-hop album ever winning Best Album.