Four years after The Slim Shady LP rejuvenated the rap game with a potent blend of clever rhymes, ghoulish humor and provocative insults hurled at Hillary Clinton, Pamela Anderson, Lauryn Hill and even his own mother, the superstar MC Eminem finally conquered the Billboard Hot 100 with — of all things — the motivational “Lose Yourself.”
The hit, which accompanied the then- 30-year-old Detroit native born Marshall Mathers’ debut starring film role as Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith in the semi-autobiographical 8 Mile topped the Hot 100 for 12 weeks beginning Nov. 9, 2002 — the longest No. 1 run for a rap song. (The feat has since been matched by The Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” in 2009 and Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again,” featuring Charlie Puth, in 2015.)
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“Lose Yourself,” which encouraged listeners to seize the moment and “not miss your chance,” opened new avenues for rap in critical circles. The track secured the genre’s first nomination for song of the year at the 46th Grammy Awards and became the first rap tune to win best original song at the 75th annual Academy Awards. Despite the latter’s historic first, Eminem declined to attend the ceremony as he believed he had “a snowball’s chance in hell” of winning, he later told noted hip-hop DJ Cipha Sounds.
Already an established commercial force, Eminem continued to dominate in the ensuing years and earned Billboard’s Artist of the Decade honor for the 2000s, edging out Usher, Nelly and Beyonce for the prize. To date, he has clocked seven No. 1s on the Billboard 200 and five No. 1s on the Hot 100.
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After a lull of activity, the superstar made headlines on Oct. 19, 2016, when he released “Campaign Speech,” an attack on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, whom he describes as “a fucking loose cannon who’s blunt with his hand on the button.” His criticisms of President Trump ramped up at the 2017 BET Hip-Hop Awards in a cypher that went viral and included lines such as, “But we better give Obama props/ ‘Cause what we got in office now’s a kamikaze/ That’ll probably cause a nuclear holocaust.”
In addition, the rapper has set social media buzzing with images and posts to that several onlookers have interpreted as hints of an impending release. The MC has yet to release a studio set since 2013’s The Marshall Mathers LP.