Artist – Eminem
Years Active – 1992-Present
Notable Album – The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
“The soul’s escaping through this hole that is gaping
This world’s mine for the taking, make me king
As we move toward a New World Order
A normal life is boring; but superstardom’s
Close to post-mortem, it only grows harder
Home grows hotter, he blows it’s all over
These hoes is all on him, coast to coast shows
He’s known as the Globetrotter, lonely roads
God only knows, he’s grown farther from home, he’s no father
He goes home and barely knows his own daughter”
As we mentioned in the Michigan slide, Eminem’s location on this list is a bit of a cheat. While the rapper came up and very much raps about a life in Detroit, he was originally born in St. Joseph, Missouri. He would split his time between his home state and Michigan for much of his childhood.
Eminem’s appearance here does a small disservice to some rappers who came up in Missouri. Tech N9ne in Kansas City, Nelly and Chiny from St Louis and a few others are being left out to make space for Mr. Mathers.
But Eminem’s too popular and marks too big a milestone in the genre to simply skip. His star might have faded somewhat from the heights of The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP, but he’s still a force within rap.
Beyond his considerable talent, Eminem stood out in those early years for being white. While far from the only white rapper out there at the time, he was the first to really break through with a mass appeal. For many — particularly in the whiter parts of America — his obnoxious and crude witticisms and bratty behavior made him more accessible than rappers who focused on drugs and violence and unjust treatment by the police.
Now, there’s something to be said about the fact it took Eminem for white America to appreciate the rap genre instead of, say, the dozens of black rappers who came before him who were as good and likely better. But that’s perhaps a discussion for a different slideshow.