The end of the holy grail trail for a commercially successful yet credible white rapper, Eminem's undeniable mic skills might have floundered in the margins had he not come to the attention of Dr Dre. Already a veteran of the Detroit open-mic scene with a so-so mini album (1996's Infinite) under his belt, his peroxide-topped reinvention on the Dre-produced single My Name Is instantly launched a phenomenon. As scathing, witty and dextrous on mic as he was shy and awkward off it, Eminem's murderous Slim Shady persona dominated his musically patchy debut of the same name; although it was 2000's The Marshall Mathers LP that proved he was no flash in the pain – a sustained tirade against middle American mores and self-lacerating dissection of his own troubled upbringing, that also showed what a wily wordsmith he was on hits like Stan and The Way I Am. A creditable celluloid debut in the biopic 8 Mile didn't, however, stop early 00s albums like The Eminem Show and retirement effort Encore sounding like they were recorded by rote, Em skewering the same predictable targets and seemingly running out of fresh ideas. He all but disappeared from view after the tragic murder of his D12 colleague and mentor Proof in 2006, sending the internet rumour mill into overdrive. A punishing addiction to prescription painkillers aside, most stories proved unfounded, and 2009's mostly Dre-manned Relapse saw Eminem in relatively fine fettle, if not quite vintage form.
Followers: Bishop Lamont, Marilyn Manson, Lloyd Banks, DJ Whoo Kid, DJ Green Lantern, Bobby Creekwater, Cashis, Macklemore