[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
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
"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.