When Eminem first embarked on his rap mission, the 8 Mile MC had one mission: To be the dopest MC on the planet. Now, 14 years after he dropped his major-label debut album, not much has changed for Slim Shady, who is set to release his The Marshall Mathers LP 2 on November 5.
MTV News was there in the beginning and starting on Thursday (October 31) and leading all the up to the day of release, we will revisit some unforgettable and early Eminem moments, like when he was getting set to release his Slim Shady LP back in 1999.
"I just didn't want to be thrown out there like a Milkbone or Vanilla Ice and just try to start at the top or whatever," Em told us of the white rappers who came before him, before hip-hop's color barrier was seriously challenged.
Back then, the perception was that white acts were just flashes in the pan and a vehicle for record labels to make a quick buck. Of course, this wasn't the case as groups like Beastie Boys and 3rd Bass proved that being a dope MC wasn't determined by skin color. Still, when Em first stepped onto the scene, his music was met with some skepticism, despite his gritty underground resume.
"I want that foundation, I want the respect," he said then, pounding his right fist into his open left hand for added emphasis. "I ain't in this for the money, I don't give a f--k about money, I'm in it for the respect. I'm in it just for somebody to come up and say Eminem you're dope."
Over the course of 14 years and six solo albums (plus two with his group D12, one soundtrack and one Shady compilation LP), Eminem has earned his respect and then some. You'll be hard-pressed to find a fan or critic who will denounce his skill set or impact on the rap game. He's made some serious back too, becoming one of the highest-selling artists of all-time, but just one listen to The Marshall Mathers LP 2 and it's clear that the money hasn't changed him.
Eminem is still as wicked as he was when he captivated the world with tracks like "My Name Is" and the anger-anthem "I Just Don't Give a F---." On this new album there are villainous cuts like the album opening "Bad Guy" where Slim buries a woman who scorned him and stacks densely layered and offensive rap bars.
There are songs about being bullied and tracks that come to grips with his rough upbringing; there are no flaunts of wealth or champagne-soaked prances. In fact, on the soulful and slow-rolling "Rhyme or Reason" Em makes fun of rap's current infatuation with luxurious art. "Docile and impossible to explain and I'm also vain and/ Probably find a way to complain about a Piscasso painting," he spits with his tongue in cheek.
With all the responsibility that comes with owning a rap empire that includes a premiere label, management company and his own satellite radio station, it's good to know that the quest to be the dopest rapper in the world is still at the top of Marshall's list.
"If I had a trillion dollars and I fell off, I'll be the most miserable person in the world," he told us then, back when he was plotting his course.