How ‘Rap God’ Eminem got his iconic stage name

By Malavika Pradeep

Published Oct 18, 2022 at 08:48 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

When American rapper and record producer Eminem (stylised as EMINƎM) gripped hip hop in middle America and started gobbling up pop culture in 1999, his transgressive works were accused of “promoting torture, incest, murder, rape, and armed robbery.” At the time, Billboard condemned him for making “money off the world’s misery” while culture warrior Lynne Cheney told a Senate hearing: “It is truly astonishing to me that a man whose work is so filled with hate would be so honoured by his peers.” It’s safe to say that if Twitter had existed back then, the rapper would have been cancelled in all universes belonging to the multiverse.

Over time, however, Eminem’s global success broke racial barriers to the acceptance of white rappers in the industry. ‘Rap God’ entered the Guinness Book of Records for featuring the most words (1,560) in a hit single as the icon made his blockbuster debut and went on to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with an estimated worldwide sales of over 220 million records.

As the best-selling rapper recently celebrated his 50th birthday on 17 October 2022, many fans continued to cast doubt on the origin of his stage name and the story of how it all began. Well, let’s set the record straight once and for all.

Eminem, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, first started writing raps when he was in high school. At the age of 14, he began performing with his peer Mike Ruby and the duo adopted the stage monikers ‘Manix’ and ‘M&M’ (an acronym derived from his real name). The rapper then sneaked into neighbouring high schools for lunchroom freestyle rap battles and attended open mic contests at the Hip-Hop Shop on West 7 Mile Road, considered to be ground zero for the Detroit rap scene.

During the early years of his career, Eminem also went by MC Double M—a title he used during the formation of New Jacks alongside DJ Butter Fingers (Manix’s twin brother). His birth name, Marshall Bruce Mathers III, has also cropped up several times in his work, most prominently in the 2000 studio album The Marshall Mathers LP and The Marshall Mathers LP 2 in 2013.

Then, the rapper went on to create his “evil alter ego” called Slim Shady which was notably more explicit than Marshall Mathers and Eminem. While Marshall Mathers is the side of him that raps about his hardships and frustrations while growing up, Eminem shows off his charisma and motivation. In contrast, Slim Shady addresses everything from violence and drug use to rape and poverty.

On these terms, fans have pointed out how songs like ‘Mockingbird’ and ‘When I’m Gone’ are works of Marshall Mathers, ‘Rap God’ and ‘Just Lose It’ belong to Eminem, and ‘Evil Twin’, ‘My Name Is’ and ‘Insane’ exude pure Slim Shady energy.

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A post shared by Marshall Mathers (@eminem)

Back to the rapper’s initial stage moniker ‘M&M’. It was the name’s connection to a popular chocolate treat that subjected it to another period of refinement. It seems that the 8 Mile star preferred the look of the name when it was written phonetically, and so ‘Eminem’ was born.

Now that this important piece of musical history is addressed, I recommend you to think twice before tweeting claims like “I was today years old when I realised EMINEM stands for ‘Every Mother Is Nice Except Mine’.” Although the rapper in question wouldn’t care less, his alleged Illuminati android clone might have other plans.

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