What You Never Knew About Eminem

If you were one of the thousands to tune in to the Super Bowl, chances are you caught the halftime show. Or, should we say, if you were one of the thousands to tune into the halftime show, you may have caught the Super Bowl. Super Bowl LVI's performance had the internet buzzing from the moment it was announced, as it featured a variety of headliners, all with iconic hits of their own. Among Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige was Eminem, the famed rapper whose music defined a generation. Eminem — born Marshall Bruce Mathers — may have hit his career peak back in the early 2000s, but his halftime performance proved the rapper still has what it takes to get a stadium on its feet.

Of course, watching a performance such as the Super Bowl halftime show gets a number of us naturally curious about the artists themselves. As Eminem is approaching 50 (we can hear our fellow Millennials crying), it's only safe to assume we're all asking the same questions about the rapper. So sit back and get ready to learn what you never knew about Eminem.

One of Eminem's early losses actually led to a lucrative deal

Before Eminem was Eminem, he was just a kid from Detroit looking for his big break. The underground hip hop scene was a staple in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and it was by willpower and aspiration that Eminem emerged on the scene.

It was 1997, and the hopeful rapper came across some of the most seriously tough battle rappers in the game, according to HipHopDX. It was in this fight club-like environment where he started to make a name for himself. DJ Breeze, who was in the crowd the night Eminem competed in the 1997 Rap Olympics, told HipHopDX that, while Slim Shady came in second, the competition changed everything. "Eminem held his own as well," Breeze told the publication. "The battle with [rapper Otherwize] had to go extra rounds because these dudes were going at it." He went on to say that the battle was "phenomenal" and so "evenly matched" that it was hard to tell who was going to come out on top. Otherwize ended up winning the title, but it was Eminem who walked out with a deal with Dr. Dre, who became not only his collaborator, but one of Eminem's closest friends.

The rapper didn't attend the 2003 Oscars even though he was nominated for an award

Did you know that Eminem won an Oscar? We were shocked to find out that, not only did he win the coveted award, but he missed the award ceremony to boot. As noted by The Wrap, Eminem's hit song "Lose Yourself" won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 2003, as it was featured in the 2002 movie "8 Mile," which not only starred Eminem but was also loosely based on the rapper's humble beginnings and rise to fame in an industry where he was an underdog. To see a rap song in the Oscar category was surprising in and of itself, and, perhaps, no one was more surprised than Eminem himself.

Reflecting on the experience in 2007, the rapper told Behind the Boards that he thought he "had no chance" at winning the award, and, so, he didn't prepare. "When I heard I was nominated, I thought that was for actors," Eminem said of the experience, explaining, "I was not sure what exactly Grammy or Oscar meant, what certain awards meant ... even MTV awards." Because the concept was so foreign to the rapper, Eminem decided not to attend the ceremony — in hindsight, he should have, as he took home the Oscar. We assume he learned his lesson that night.

Eminem is the only rapper to have two diamond albums

This might surprise you since there are so many great rappers on the scene, but Eminem is the only rap artist to ever achieve two diamond albums. As noted by BET, Slim Shady has rolled out chart-topping music for decades now, and, while he confirmed a long time ago that he was a rapper worth investing in, his album accomplishment sets him apart. Eminem's discographies "The Eminem Show" and "Marshall Mathers LP" both went diamond — meaning they sold more than 10 million copies (which is just insane, when you think about it). The only other artists to achieve such a status include music legends Pink Floyd and the Beatles — to say that Eminem is in the company of icons is an understatement.

In addition to this accomplishment, Eminem's "Marshall Mathers LP" was named by Rolling Stone as one of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and it just so happens to also be the "fastest-selling rap album in history" (via BET). When the news broke of Slim's achievements, Twitter exploded with G.O.A.T. emojis and a simple sentiment: "One of the greatest accomplishments in music."

Ice T is one of the rapper's early musical inspirations

Eminem is a rapper who needs no introduction, but before he was one of the greatest MCs to release music, he was a kid who was inspired to pursue a career in music. Like many great musicians, Eminem found motivation in the work of other artists, and, perhaps, one of the most profound rappers to have impacted him at a young age is Ice T.

During a sit-down interview with Mike Tyson on his show, "Hotboxin," Eminem revealed that "The Breakin' Soundtrack" was the first rap album he listened to, and it changed the way he thought about music. "My Uncle Ronnie started liking rap before me. Then he introduced me to it," Eminem shared. "And I loved it. It spoke to me in a way no other music did." Ice T was clearly flattered by Eminem's words, and he took to Twitter shortly after with his own message to the legendary rapper. "The respect is mutual," Ice T wrote, much to the enthusiasm of fans. "We need that ICE T and EMINEM collaboration to happen ASAP," one listener wrote with glee.

The rapper almost made a jump to a starring film role in 2010

While we know Eminem for his genre-defining albums and underground rap sessions, it turns out that he almost made the jump to serious acting. As noted by Deadline back in 2010, Eminem was in talks with DreamWorks to star in the movie "Southpaw," a film that was set to "mirror" the rapper's life and musical career. Eminem was discussing taking on the leading role of a boxer on the rise who faces tragedy and career-blowing catastrophies along the way.

Working with "Sons of Anarchy" creator Kurt Sutter, Eminem had sourced inspiration from his own life as a way to develop the project. "I took meetings with Marshall's producing partners over the past seven years, looking for something to do together," Sutter told Deadline. "I know he's very selective and doesn't do a lot. But he shared so much of his personal struggle in this raw and very honest album, one that I connected with on a lot of levels." Despite Eminem's personal connection to the project and his past acting experience, the lead role ended up going to Jake Gyllenhaal. Eminem did, however, contribute music to the film.

Eminem has sourced album inspiration while under the influence

We all hear stories about how musicians and artists source inspiration for their projects — some go out into nature and clear their heads to write the perfect song. Others spend years traveling the world and speaking to strangers to draw on connectivity. For Eminem, he sourced album inspiration from his experience of being under the influence, something he spoke about in an interview with Rolling Stone.

Working on his hit song "My Name Is" and flushing it out in just an hour, Eminem revealed he was on ecstasy when he wrote the hit song and even more hit music to come. "I wrote two songs for the next album on ecstasy," Eminem shared. "That's what we do when I'm in the studio with [Dr.] Dre." Did the legendary producer back up Slim Shady's story? You bet he did. "We get in there, get bugged out, stay in the studio for ... two days. Then you're dead for three days. Then you wake up, pop the tape in, like, 'Let me see what I've done,'" Dre said.

Eminem's mom once sued him for defamation

This may come as a shock, but Eminem's mom once sued him for defamation. Yes, we're not kidding. As noted by MTV, Debbie Mathers sued her son, seeking $11 million in damages. Apparently, Mathers took issue with one of Eminem's first hits, "My Name Is," alleging she was "slandered" in the track. The rapper included lyrics that pointed to his mother's drug use and spoke about the song on the likes of "The Howard Stern Show" and Rap Pages magazine. As such, his mom took legal action.

Here's where things get messy. Eminem and his mother ultimately came to a settlement of $25,000, a huge deviation from the original amount she was after, and she took things one step further by firing her attorney. This is where the situation took a turn. A judge later ruled that $23,354 of that $25,000 should go to Mathers' (then-fired) attorney, leaving her with just $1,600. So, yes, she went from seeking millions of dollars to eventually getting a check for about one month's rent.

According to Oscar De La Hoya, Eminem could've had a career in boxing

We now know that Eminem was in talks to star as a boxer in a feature film, but we were additionally surprised to learn that he had what it took to pursue a career in the sport. The rapper is apparently a very gifted fighter, and former pro Oscar De La Hoya spoke to DJ Whoo Kid about Slim Shady's skills in the ring, as he'd seen Slim Shady throw down a couple punches. "The late great Emanuel Steward, who trained me for about four or five fights, he once showed me a video where he was training Eminem," De La Hoya said, via Complex. "And man, he has some moves. He was punching the hand mitts, and he was moving. He looked really good actually with a lot of power."

Given how impassioned Eminem can be when he raps, we're not surprised that he could turn the boxing ring into his performance stage, too. De La Hoya was so impressed by the musician, in fact, he told DJ Whoo Kid that he even proposed fighting Eminem in a celebrity boxing match. "We can do a charity box-off together," the professional boxer said. "I can come down in weight."

Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP almost had a totally different name

For those of you who need a reminder, Eminem's real name is Marshall Mathers — making the title of his first hit album pretty understandable. The LP's title certainly grabbed the attention of his fans, who, of course, stayed for the music, making Eminem a household name. But, did you know that the album was almost named something entirely different? In a 2000 profile for SPIN, Slim Shady shared that he originally workshopped the name "Amsterdam" for the album — we're glad he stuck to "The Marshall Mathers LP," which featured one of his biggest hits, "The Real Slim Shady" — but there's a story behind this once possible name for the album.

Apparently, Amsterdam was one of young Eminem's favorite cities, no doubt, because it has malleable drug legality. In fact, the city has the reputation as the "Ecstasy-producing capital of the world," and, as we learned earlier, Eminem was partial to the substance (per SPIN). However, the rapper also sourced album inspiration from Amsterdam-based journalists who "irked" him so much and never left him alone. On a flight home from Europe, he apparently wrote four songs for the album, which set the rapper up for stardom.

The rapper came up with his alter ego, Slim Shady, while in the bathroom

One thing we love about Eminem is that he never sugarcoats anything, and while speaking with Rolling Stone in the earlier days of his career, the rapper shared how he came up with the name of his alter ego, Slim Shady. It was just a couple days before his daughter – who grew up to become a huge fan of her famous father — turned 1, and Eminem was at an all-time low. He had just been fired from a cooking job and had only $40 to buy his little girl a present and plan Christmas, to boot. That's when he wrote the song "Rock Bottom" — but inspiration was just around the corner.

Eminem's rollercoaster of a career mellowed out when he "met" Slim Shady — he just so happened to be on the toilet when inspiration struck. "Boom, the name hit me, and right away I thought of all these words to rhyme with it," the rapper shared with Rolling Stone, saying that, after leaving the bathroom, he "called everyone [he] knew." From there, Slim Shady became a way for Eminem to channel his work, pain, anger, and experiences. As Rolling Stone put it, the timing was written in the stars, and Slim Shady gave Eminem a voice he'd never utilized before.

Eminem is responsible for a new word added to the dictionary

Musicians and writers are often credited as the source for certain new words added to the English language — did you know that William Shakespeare came up with the word elbow? While we expect the likes of Shakespeare to evolve the language we use, someone like Eminem might not be the person we expect to contribute to the dictionary. Alas, the rapper is known for adding a word to both the Oxford English Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and to say we were surprised to learn this is an understatement.

As noted by XXL Magazine, the Oxford English Dictionary was the first of the two aforementioned sources to officially adopt the word "stan." Stan, as you may know, references a massive fan or guru who follows a certain celebrity — but did you know that "stan" was first used by Eminem in his song of the same name? It just so happens to be true, and Eminem is even cited in the official definition. Two years later, stan was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and was once again attributed to Eminem, per XXL. The more you know.

Eminem and the New Zealand National Party faced off in court

The last two entities that you'd think would have beef are Eminem and New Zealand, but they found themselves at odds in 2017. As reported by NPR, Eminem took the New Zealand National Party to court over music infringement, as the party had used a rendition of his hit "Lose Yourself" in a campaign ad without permission. The case went all the way to New Zealand's High Court, and the ruling was issued in Eminem's favor. As NPR reported, the party was ordered to cough up $415,000 to Eminem's publishing company, Eight Mile Style, for damages. While the song they used in the aforementioned ad wasn't exactly the same as "Lose Yourself," the "Eminem Esque" track was ruled as "objectively similar" to the rapper's hit.

The rapper, who has about $230 million to his name, per Celebrity Net Worth, decided to put his winnings towards a worthy cause. According to Variety, Eminem pledged to donate the money to hurricane relief, as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria had caused significant damage to the Atlantic seaboard and surrounding areas.

The first book Eminem read in full was LL Cool J's biography

Eminem can string some highly impressive raps together, and being so linguistically talented might make you think he's well read. As it turns out, the rapper is a bit averse to reading and completed his first (and reportedly only) cover-to-cover book not too long ago. So, what did the musician choose? Perhaps, a classic like "The Great Gatsby" or a cult favorite like "Fahrenheit 451"? Nope — Eminem chose to dive into the work of another rapper, whom he could relate to, and read LL Cool J's biography, "I Make My Own Rules."

As noted by TheThings, Eminem and LL Cool J's relationship goes way back (Eminem reportedly wooed his wife with an LL Cool J hit), so it makes sense that the "Lose Yourself" hitmaker chose a page-turner about a friend. LL Cool J's biography was penned by Karen Hunter in 1997 and served as a reference to his work with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, given the same name. A year later, in 1998, LL Cool J and Eminem's paths crossed for the first time, and the rest is history.

Eminem made a sweet gesture to hospital workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life as we know it, and everyday people have become heroes to so many of us, namely frontline workers and healthcare professionals. Their contributions to helping guide the COVID-19 response has been inspiring, and their efforts caught the eye of Eminem. To help do his part in supporting pandemic efforts, Eminem gave back to his hometown of Detroit, the details of which will leave your heart feeling warm and your stomach fed.

As noted by CNN, Eminem donated meals to frontline workers in the form of "Mom's Spaghetti," of course, a nod to his hit song "Lose Yourself." Each pasta meal was adorned with a thank you note and the Shady Records logo, with the Henry Ford Health System tweeting that workers "lost themselves" over the donated meal. In another heartwarming move, Eminem's foundation donated to the Detroit Medical Center, capping off a wonderful act of charity. "Such a big heart, he cares so much for his town!" one of Eminem's many fans tweeted. "Big kudos to Em and to all the heroes of the health system."