Eminem, also known as Marshall Mathers, is one of the most commercially successful rappers of all time, with more than 100 million albums sold worldwide.
He is one of the richest rappers in the world, with an estimated net worth of $210 million as of 2020. What sets Eminem apart from most of the other richest rappers is that almost all of his net worth is directly tied to his music. He’s the best selling rapper of all time, with sales of the Marshall Mathers LP exceeding 35 million copies.
Marshall Mathers was born on October 17, 1972 in St. Joseph Missouri. His father soon abandoned the family, moving to California. Eminem says that he often wrote letters to his father, although he never received a response.
Eminem’s mother struggled with substance abuse issues and mental illness, and he frequently moved back and forth between Missouri and Detroit. He had a hard time making friends, as he attended over 30 schools throughout his childhood.
Eminem was bullied throughout much of his early life. He turned to writing lyrics and telling stories to get by.
He started out by performing at rap battles at the age of 14. His reputation slowly grew throughout Detroit, leading to invitations to collaborate with some of the most successful rap groups in the area, including D12.
After a few years of success on the rap battle circuit, Eminem released “Infinite,” his first album. The album was poorly received, both commercially and critically, and his career seemed to be shipwrecked from the start.
Meeting Dr. Dre
In 1997, Eminem stumbled into what would be his big break. While at a rap battle in LA, he was spotted by a rep of Aftermath, Dr. Dre’s record label.
Although Eminem would go on to lose in the finals of the rap battle tournament, Dr. Dre flew him back out to LA and brought him into the studio.
Here’s a video of the two of them recalling the first time they met.
Eminem demoed lyrics for what would become “My Name Is,” one of his most successful songs.
First Album and Commercial Success
His early work with Dr. Dre led to the release of “The Slim Shady LP,” an album that received critical claim and that would go on to sell millions of copies. Although popular, the album was heavily criticized for its violent, mysoginistic, and homophobic lyrics. This criticism would continue to dog Eminem throughout his career.
The release of the Marshall Mathers LP in 2000 would elevate Eminem to the highest tier of commercial and critical success. The album was the fastest selling rap album in history, shipping over 1.7 million copies within a week of being released. It would go on to become the highest selling rap record of all time, shipping an estimated 35 million copies worldwide.
The album has now established itself in the rap canon, and is frequently listed as one of the greatest albums of its generation by Time, Rolling Stone, Complex, and Pitchfork.
It was also nominated for Grammy Album of the Year, and went on to win the award for Best Rap Album. Although the album was critically praised, Eminem had come under heavy criticism for the homophobic lyrics in the album. In response, he performed alongside Elton John at the Grammys.
After his third successful album, Eminem tried to make the leap from music to acting, a transition that usually trips up most musicians. But Eminem is not most musicians, and the movie that came out of his foray into acting, 8 Mile, was a commercial and critical darling. The film went on to win an Oscar for one of its songs, the first time that a rap song had won the award.
Eminem says that the filming of the movie was grueling, requiring over 16 hours of work per day. He took the role seriously, fearing that he would not be able to act as well as he rapped. To prepare, he enrolled in an acting boot camp.
The physical and emotional toll of filming “8 Mile,” combined with a number of upheavals in his private life, led to a dramatic worsening of Eminem’s addiction to pills. He continued to record music despite his addiction, releasing the acclaimed “The Eminem Show” in 2004.
Despite his perseverance, the rapper’s personal demons eventually caught up with him. Mired in a messy divorce and a custody battle over his daughter, Eminem sank further into his addiction. In 2007, he was admitted to the hospital after overdosing on pills. Doctors were able to get to him early and save his life.
Addiction forced Eminem to step away from music for a period so that he could focus on getting off pills. His struggle to get clean was boosted by Elton John, who had his fair share of struggles with sobriety decades earlier.
Eminem slowly recovered from his pill addiction, getting clean by 2008. This battle to get off drugs was detailed in his comeback album, “Recovery.” Although the album received mixed reviews, it sold well, with a number of popular singles.
“Not Afraid” and “Love The Way You Lie” drove the album’s commercial success, and helped keep Eminem at the top of the charts more than a decade after the release of his first major album. Like all of the rapper’s previous albums, “Recovery” topped the charts.
After the release of “The Marshall Mathers LP” in 2013, Eminem went into an extended quiet period where little music was released. His silence was finally broken in 2017 with the release of “Revival.”
Although “Revival” still sold more than 1 million copies, it was his lowest selling album since signing a record deal. It also received negative reviews from most major music publications, who claimed that the MC had lost the spark that had inspired his early albums. It failed to produce a notable single, unlike most of his past albums.
A year after the release of “Revival” Eminem released “Kamikaze” his tenth studio album. The album received better reviews than his previous release, with many critics hailing it as a return to form. It topped the charts, making it the rapper’s tenth album to take the number one spot.
Like any Eminem album, “Kamikaze” was wrapped up in controversy, although less so than many of his previous releases. Many critics noted that the rapper continued to include homophobic lyrics in his songs, despite years of criticism and increased social pressure. He also criticized a number of other rappers on the album, leading to a small wave of backlash.
Eminem is nothing if not outspoken. Although usually mired in controversies over his violent lyrics, he was sucked into a new type of controversy in 2017 by Donald Trump.
The rapper recorded a freestyle that heavily criticized Trump. The song was quite divisive among his fans, many of whom support Trump. But Eminem didn’t back down, saying that any fan of his was either with him or with the president.
The freestyle also landed Eminem in hot water with the president’s security team. Eminem claims that the Secret Service paid a visit to him in the studio. He says that they wanted to know if he was actually threatening the president with his lyrics.
Despite his huge net worth, Eminem has stayed close to his roots. He still lives in the house he purchased in 2000 for a relatively modest price of $1.5 million. The house is located in Clinton Township, Michigan.
Although most of Eminem’s net worth derives from his music, he has had a number of lucrative endorsements with major corporations that have provided an extra revenue stream throughout his career.
One of the most notable was his relationship with Chrysler, a company located in Detroit that was trying to rebuild after a disastrous decade that left them bankrupt. Eminem narrated the company’s Super Bowl ad in 2011, which also used his song “Lose Yourself” and footage of his hometown Detroit.
Dr. Dre also recruited Eminem to promote Beats by Dre, a lucrative deal that netted him millions in sponsorship dollars.
Eminem is one of the biggest rappers the world has ever seen, selling more records than any other hip hop artists in history. His commercial and critical success has been good to his bank account. He ranks as the seventh richest rapper, with a net worth that’s estimated to be around $210 million.
The rapper’s financial success is even more impressive when you consider the fact that he isn’t very active in business or branding like other rap titans, such as Jay-Z and Diddy. With just a mic, he was able to turn himself into one of the world’s richest entertainers.