For Eminem, most of the legendary MC's headlines have come from his alter ego, including his string of feather-ruffling Slim Shady singles "My Name Is ... ," "The Real Slim Shady" and "Without Me."
Lately, however, he's been doing just fine as himself.
On his last album, Recovery, he scored a pair of #1 singles — "Not Afraid" and "Love the Way You Lie" — largely drawing on his own life. "Love the Way You Lie" (nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammys on Sunday) was a passionate tale of a turbulent relationship, seemingly ripped from the pages of Em's romance with ex-wife Kim Mathers.
"I think we tried as hard as we could to not glorify the violence, to try and explain that this was a relationship that is by no means ideal and a relationship that probably should have ended a lot sooner than it did," video star Dominic Monaghan told MTV News over the summer. "The concept of 'Love the Way You Lie' was essentially a look at the relationship that Eminem was in with his wife, Kim, so I kind of felt like I was playing Eminem a little bit, and Megan Fox was kind of playing Kim."
The fact that Rihanna — who was assaulted by then-boyfriend Chris Brown before the 2009 Grammys — was featured on the song only added to the stirring "Love the Way You Lie" narrative.
"It just was authentic. It was real," Rihanna said of the song. "It was believable for us to do a record like that, but it was also something that needed to be done, and the way he did it was so clever. He pretty much just broke down the cycle of domestic violence, and it's something that a lot of people don't have a lot of insight on, so this song is a really, really powerful song, and it touches a lot of people."
The Joseph Khan-directed video completed the complex love story with a visual that was as endearing as it was troubling, due to Monaghan and Fox's aggressive behavior. Fox even donated her fee for appearing in the clip to a women's shelter after being inspired by the experience.
Producer Alex Da Kid, who worked on the track with Eminem, recalls being in the studio with the rapper and watching him work. According to the British beatsmith, Em wanted to try something new.
"If you chase what they did before, it never really works out, and I wanna do different things anyway," Alex told MTV News. "That's my thing. I took his past work into account, but he was looking for new things, and I did my thing, and luckily it worked out.
"I remember sitting in the studio with Em and being like, 'I'm writing my Grammy speech right now,' " Alex added. "He hates all that stuff, and he hates it when I say stuff like that, but I really believed in it from the start."
Are you rooting for "Love the Way You Lie" to win Record of the Year at the Grammys? Let us know in the comments!
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