When Eminem placed second in the freestyle category at the 1997 Rap Olympics in Los Angeles, he came to the attention of Dr. Dre, founding member of pioneering rappers N.W.A. and the head of Aftermath Entertainment. By this time Eminem had developed the persona of the inhibitionless Slim Shady, who gave voice to Eminem’s id in often vulgar and violent lyrics. With Dr. Dre as his producer and mentor, Eminem released The Slim Shady LP early in 1999. Benefiting from the inventive channel-surfing music video for the hit song My Name Is and the instant credibility of Dr. Dre’s involvement, the album went multiplatinum, and Eminem won two Grammy Awards and four MTV Video Music Awards.
In 2000 Eminem released The Marshall Mathers LP the fastest-selling album in the history of rap. The incredible success of the album brought more controversy. To silence critics, in 2001 Eminem performed a duet with openly gay musician Elton John at the Grammy Awards, where The Marshall Mathers LP was nominated for best album of the year. Later that year he recorded the album Devil’s Night with D12 (also known as the Dirty Dozen), a Detroit-based rapping sextet, and toured with the group. He also created his own record label, Shady Records.
When he finished touring in 2002, Eminem made his acting debut in the semiautobiographical 8 Mile. The gritty film was a critical and commercial success. The following year he won an Academy Award for Lose Yourself, a song featured in the movie. Eminem’s later works include The Eminem Show (2002) and Encore (2004). While both albums proved successful, neither brought Eminem the attention garnered by his previous two. In 2005 he issued a greatest-hits set Curtain Call: The Hits that topped the charts.
In 2008 Eminem published the memoir The Way I Am, which included photos, drawings, and lyrics. The following year he released Relapse, his first collection of new material in five years. Relapse won the 2010 Grammy Award for best rap album, and Eminem shared the Grammy for best rap duo or group with Dr. Dre and 50 Cent for the single Crack a Bottle.