His name is Marshall Mathers. He's just a regular guy who happens to have a few alter egos, some skeletons in his closet, and a way with words.
OK, maybe he's not so regular, seeing how the man also known as Eminem has rhymed himself into Greatest Of All Time contention—not to mention that his every move has been publicized and scrutinized since 1999, when The Slim Shady LP donkey-punched the game silly, making it unsafe for pop stars, moms, and anybody else who pissed off the Detroit representer. Ever since, the rap superstar has attempted to keep his private life private, a task he himself makes difficult by always being so brutally honest in his songs. It's his compulsive willingness to share his raw feelings in inspired lyrics and wide-ranging flows that has struck a chord with fans.
But even before his breakthrough, Em was a promising MC looking for his chance to blow. Controversy aside, at the essence of all his music there has always existed a deep-rooted respect for hip-hop. Every lyrical war he waged, whether it was against kin, rap rivals, or the media, every confrontational and/or funny remark he made on record—it could all be traced back to his humble beginnings as a battle rapper from the wrong side of the tracks.
His rise to fame is a real-life drama full of protests, court cases, and a duel with drugs. But, above all else, it's the passion that burns within his competitive nature that has set him apart from many of his peers. How the Great White Hope became possibly the G.O.A.T. is a story best told in verses, so given the fact that The Marshall Mathers LP was just certified diamond, Complex felt it was the perfect time to compile 100 of Eminem's best sonic scriptures to tell the tale of this rapper/producer, shit-starter, loving father, and survivor. As you'll see, Eminem's saga is as much about where he's from, where he's been and where he's at—back on top.
Written by Gabriel Alvarez of @egotripland
[Ed. note—This post was originally published on April 26, 2011.]