Best Of '99: Eminem's Mother Sues Rapper, Alleges Defamation

Lawsuit accuses him of painting Debbie Mathers-Briggs as welfare-dependent drug user.

[Editor's note: Over the holiday season, SonicNet is looking back at 1999's top stories, chosen by our editors and writers. This story originally ran on Monday, Sept. 20.]

Eminem's mother is suing the rapper, alleging he made statements in the

press that painted her as a welfare-dependent, lawsuit-happy drug user

who moved around aimlessly during his childhood.

Debbie Mathers-Briggs claims in the $10 million suit that her son defamed

her and caused her to suffer damage to her reputation, emotional distress,

loss of self-esteem, humiliation, sleeplessness and anxiety.

Reading from a prepared statement Monday (Sept. 20), Eminem's attorney,

Paul Rosenberg, said his client's defense against the suit is that he

has told the truth. "Eminem's life is reflected in his music," Rosenberg

said. "Everything he said can be verified as true. Truth is an absolute

defense to a claim of defamation."

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount

Clemens, Mich., against Marshall Bruce Mathers III, the birth name of

the 25-year-old Eminem (a.k.a. Slim Shady). Statements the rapper allegedly

made in interviews published in Rolling Stone, Rap Pages and

The Source and on radio's "The Howard Stern Show" are cited in

the complaint.

In the April issue of Addicted To Noise, Eminem spoke of moving

back and forth between his birthplace in Kansas City, Mo., and Detroit,

" 'Cause my mother's a bitch. You can even print that. My mother's a bitch.

My mother never had a job. My mother never had nothing. We didn't have

sh--. We had to keep moving out of the house. I believe six months was

the longest we ever lived in a house."

Mathers-Briggs' attorney, Fred Gibson of Sterling Heights, Mich., could

not be reached by press time. The Associated Press quoted the

lawyer as suggesting that Eminem's alleged distortion of his childhood

may be his attempt to make up for being a white rapper in a predominantly

black genre.

"He's a hip-hop artist," Gibson reportedly said. "Vanilla Ice went away

a few years ago when his hard past was a fabrication. This isn't the same,

but hip-hop is within the urban culture, and he's Caucasian, so he doesn't

fit in. So he has to project this image."

In Rosenberg's statement, the attorney said the lawsuit was not a surprise

to Eminem: "His mother has been threatening to sue him since the success

of his single 'My Name Is.' It is merely the result of a lifelong strained

relationship between him and his mother. Regardless, it is still painful

to be sued by your mother, and therefore the lawsuit will only be responded

to through legal channels."

The suit also claims Eminem promised to help his mother with the mortgage

on her mobile home but abruptly stopped making payments, causing the

court to evict her from her home in late summer. Also listed as damages

are harm to her credit and "many sleepless nights."

Eminem recently said he is halfway done with his next solo disc, which

is slated for release next year. It is the follow-up to The Slim Shady

LP, which featured the hits "My Name Is" (RealAudio

excerpt) and "Guilty Conscience" (RealAudio


The rapper also said he's planning to release an album next year as part

of the Detroit hip-hop group D-12.