How would you feel at your lowest moment, when any dream you hold looks like a complete fantasy?
1996. Living in a crime-riddled neighborhood, Marshall Mathers was 24-year old struggling to provide for his infant daughter by cooking and washing dishes at a local lodge. He began to abuse alcohol, as his relationship with the baby’s mother grew tense.
After honing his skills for 10 years and becoming a fixture on the underground Rap scene in Detroit, his first record (under his stage name Eminem) was panned and failed to attract any attention.
Marshall lost his job right before Christmas and the young family was evicted from their home. They were forced to move into the trailer of his mother, a woman with whom he had a troubled relationship with, at best, throughout his life.
His demons even led him to an unsuccessful suicide attempt.
So how on earth did this guy become one of the best-selling musical artists in history?
Grit, internal toughness, a remarkable work ethic –- and a talent borne from countless hours spent reading the dictionary, writing rhymes and devoting himself to a singular purpose.
He took his life-long anger -- fueled by a father who abandoned him, years of persistent bullying, his status as a loner and a mother who abused him emotionally –- and he channeled it into his craft.
The result? A violent alter ego named Slim Shady that allowed him to tap into his dark side, often directed at his mother and wife.
Although his second album (1997’s The Slim Shady EP) failed to sell many copies, it demonstrated his now- trademark style and earned him some attention outside of his hometown.
After losing his job again in early 1997, Eminem found a way to get to Los Angeles to compete in the Rap Olympics MC Battle. He placed second and a scout who saw him sent his tape to the head of Interscope Records -- who had the ear of Dr. Dre.
Dre worked with the young rapper for two years, honing his skills and refining his talent. And in 1999, The Slim Shady LP made Eminem a household name.
Eminem put himself in a position to get noticed by someone with clout, simply because he refused to give up. It’s a little thing called “when preparation meets opportunity”.
We all hit low points in our lives. And in those moments, maybe we can’t imagine things working out. But a kid from Detroit showed us that even in the midst of that darkness, we have the ability to find our own light.