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Eminem's Detroit Roots

The Detroit Background of Marshall Bruce Mathers, III

By

Recording artists Eminem performs onstage at the 2014 MTV Movie Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on April 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images for MTV

Name:

Marshall Bruce Mathers, III

Born:

1972

Alias:

  • M&M
  • Eminem
  • Slim Shady
  • Jimmy Smith, Jr. – Eminem’s character in the movie 8 Mile”

Detroit Roots:

  • Dort Elementary school in Roseville
  • Osborne Middle School and Lincoln High School in Warren
  • Dresden address on the Detroit side of 8 Mile
  • Bought his first house in Sterling Heights
  • Currently owns two houses in Clinton Township

8 Mile

Much of what people think they know about Eminem they know from the semi-autographical movie 8 Mile; but just how much of the movie is myth in regard to the artist’s Detroit roots?

In Detroit, “8 Mile” is more than just a street name. It separates Wayne County from its more affluent counties to the north and is the understood divide between the City of Detroit and its white suburbs. In movie terms, “8 Mile” represents an obstacle for the movie’s main character, Jimmy Smith, Jr., to overcome in realizing his dream of becoming a white rapper.

Growing up in Detroit

In interviews, Eminem has stated that he grew up on the wrong side of 8 Mile, meaning the Detroit side; but the many biographical records out there state that he moved to the Detroit area with his mother when he was 12 and went to school in Macomb County. According to FamousWhy.com, he went to elementary school in Roseville. He also went to Osborne Middle School and Lincoln High School until 1989 when he dropped out after failing the 9th grade for the third time. While the high school was located less than a mile from the famous divide of 8 Mile Road, it was in the predominantly-white community of Warren. He also worked on and off in Macomb County at Gilbert’s Lodge in St. Clair Shores from the time he left high school until 1998. He even performed there on occasion.

Making It in Music

While some of his family members dispute whether he did, in fact, grow up in the “hood,” he did grow up poor and moved around a lot like his Jimmy Smith, Jr. character in 8 Mile. He also struggled to break into rap as a white artist, hustling his music to record stores in Roseville and Warren and participating in rap battles at famous Detroit hip-hop venues. Before going it alone, he was part of a rap duo called Soul Intent. As he emerged on his own after high school, it was as M&M -- his initials. During this period, the lyrics of his music were much lighter than those for which he would eventually became famous. The Infinite album released in 1996 focused on love and making it big. While not without foul language, M&M’s music was designed to be playable on local radio stations.

Eminem/Slim Shady Evolution

As noted by M.L. Elrick in his Salon article Eminem’s dirty secrets, Mathers evolution as an artist can be traced by his various artistic monikers. In 1995, the same year his daughter Hailie Jade Scott was born and that he cut tracks in Ferndale for his Infinite album, he changed his rapper name from M&M to Eminem. If Eminem was an incarnation created by Mathers after he immersed himself into the hip-hop culture, Slim Shady was his evil alter ego as Mathers continued to struggle professionally following Infinite’s release and economically following the birth of his daughter – a period in his life that did closely resemble the Jimmy Smith character in 8 Mile and finally connected with the hip-hop subculture.

Making it Big

In 1997, he participated in the Rap Olympics in Los Angeles. While he came in second, he was spotted and his demo tape eventually made it to Dr. Dre, who helped turn his 1998 Slip Shady EP into an LP in 1999. This was followed by the Marshall Mathers LP that won 3 Grammy Awards.

Marriage and Kids

He married Kimberley Ann Scott, Hailie’s mother, in 1999, and they divorced in 2001. He married Kim again in 2006 and divorced the same year. According to ExperienceFestival.com, Eminem adopted his niece Alaina and is legal guardian to his half brother Nathan. He is also attempting to get custody of Whitney, Kim’s daughter with another man.

Ties to the Detroit Metro Area

Eminem’s ties to the Detroit area remain to this day. He still owns two houses in Clinton Township and remains a Pistons fan.

Sources:

General Biography: Evolution of Marshall Mathers:
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