Picking up an award is pretty plain-sailing for most icons of hip hop. Grammys, Billboard Music Awards, MTV VMAs and so forth are ten a penny. However, only a few rappers can make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Eminem is one such artist. In 2022, he will become only the tenth rapper in the event’s history to find his place in the hall of fame guaranteed.
For over two decades, Eminem has delivered time and again on his promise to be the most controversial rapper of all time. From the very first bars of ‘My Name Is’ to 8 Mile and back to his MGK disses, Eminem is still a behemoth of the genre. But what was the moment that made him want to become a rapper?
It’s safe to say, Eminem has had a tough life. Having been born in Kansas City, he moved to Detroit but was bullied so much that his mother returned the family to Kansas City before moving back to Detroit at the age of 11. Their comparative destitution ensured that Marshall Mathers had to look after himself more often than not.
Growing up in a predominantly Black neighbourhood, the white raper embraced the culture around him and would soon enter battle rap concerts and other hip hop affiliated events. In a 2000 interview with SPIN, just a year after The Slim Shady LP had started his trajectory to stardom, EMinem revealed some of his key influences when growing up.
“When you’re a little kid, you don’t see colour, and the fact that my friends were Black never crossed my mind. It never became an issue until I was a teenager and started trying to rap,” he said. “The first hip hop shit I ever heard was that song ‘Reckless’ from [Ice T and] the Breakin’ soundtrack; my cousin played me the tape when I was, like, nine. I thought it was the most incredible shit I’d ever heard.”
“That’s what really did it for me. I was like, ‘This shit is so dope!’ That’s when I decided I wanted to rap,” he said. It was a pivotal moment, not just in the life of Marshall Mathers but in the world of pop culture at large.
Without ‘Reckless’, Eminem would have never started rapping, and the world would be a poorer place for it.