For nearly a decade, 's personal life has been an open book.
In songs like "Stan," " '97 Bonnie and Clyde," "Brain Damage" and "Kim," the blond MC provided brief glimpses of his troubled upbringing, his turbulent relationship with twice-ex-wife Kim Mathers and the pressures of fame.
But in his new memoir, "The Way I Am," Em — who has been nearly invisible for the past two years as he dealt with a stint in rehab for a sleeping-pill dependency, a remarriage and re-divorce from Kim and the murder of his best friend, D12 rapper Proof — aims to pull back the curtain even more. He paints himself as a regular suburban dad ... who just happens to be one of the biggest rap stars of the modern era.
Written with journalist Sacha Jenkins, the book mixes autobiography with photos and scraps of songs, poems and other collectibles from Em's life for an unusually candid bit of sharing for a rapper who has been happy to let it blurt in his rhymes but has kept his personal life more closely guarded outside of the recording booth.
"In a way, this is the end of the first chapter of his career," longtime manager Paul Rosenberg said in an interview with The New York Times about the book. "Em's looking forward now. He's very re-energized and refocused."
Em told the paper that he originally intended the project to be a "scrapbook for my fans," but as he sat down to compile it, big chunks of first-person narratives began to form from interviews with Jenkins. "Rap is one big Fantasy Island," Eminem, 36, writes in the book. "It's the place I always retreat to when things get too hectic in real time."
When he's not recording and touring, Em is busy raising his daughter with Kim, Hailie, as well as a niece, Alaina, and Kim's daughter from another relationship, Whitney. He writes that his chaotic life is not surprising given his difficult upbringing, which estranged mother, Debbie Nelson, chronicles in her own upcoming book, "My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem."
"If you go back and look at the abuse that I took, it's no surprise I became who I am," Em writes of being bullied as a child. "Someone I don't really want to be." Calling his voice very "natural" and saying he has an "everyman" appeal, Jenkins paints Em as somewhat of a lone wolf lately, one who had a lot to get off his chest, especially about the shooting death of Proof in a Detroit bar in 2006.
"As difficult as it was to talk about, I had to," Eminem told the paper, which described the passages about Proof as among the most vivid in the book, including the ones in which Em explains why he pulled back after his friend's death. "After he passed, it was a year before I could really do anything normally again. It was tough for me to even get out of bed, and I had days when I couldn't walk, let alone write a rhyme. When I tried to put my thoughts together — well, I wasn't making sense when I spoke, so everyone was trying to keep me off TV and away from the press."
The one topic Em doesn't discuss in the book is his mother, with whom he's battled publicly over the years. "Everyone already knows how I feel about those situations," Eminem said, explaining that the book is "more about Eminem and less about Marshall," referring to his given name. "I don't want to keep putting Kim and the kids in everything that I do, stuff where it's not necessary."
The book also features more than two dozen examples of handwritten lyrics jotted on everything from spiral notebooks to hotel memo pads that served as the kernel of songs such as "My Name Is" and "Stan."
One of the most entertaining stories in the book is the tall tale of how the MC got his signature bleach-blond look, which came about one night while he was high on two hits of the drug ecstasy and took a trip to a drugstore and purchased a bottle of peroxide. "I wasn't thinking that the peroxide thing was going to be my look," he writes. "I was just being stupid on drugs." Fittingly, he also talks about how the Slim Shady character was invented in a flash of inspiration while sitting on the toilet.