Today, Eminem, 27, is just as controversial, performing a macabre, masked
Both born poor, the two singers grew to love black music, repackaging it
But Eminem, real name Marshal Mathers, fears his very fame could destroy
He said: "There are so many pressures that go with my job right now. It's
"I can't even go in public anymore. I've got the whole world looking at me. I
Eminem's life has always been turbulent. His film 8 Mile, due out this summer, is
The rapper tells of savage beatings at school that changed him from a quiet, friendly
At Dort Elementary School in Roseville, a mixed race suburb of Detroit, Eminem received
He suffered severe concussion when he was set upon in the school toilets by an older
"Every day he'd shove me into the lockers and he had me in the position to beat me into
"He banged my head against the urinal until he broke my nose, soaked my clothes in blood,
"He kept chokin' me and I couldn't breathe. He looked at me and said, 'You're gonna die
It was just one of several attacks he suffered at the hands of black classmates.
In fact, he endured a four-month reign of terror at the school.
It became so bad his mother Debbie filed a lawsuit against the school. Although it was
But rather than turning against black culture, Eminem latched on to it through rap music.
Introduced to the art form by his beloved uncle Ronnie, he became mesmerised. Artists
He would study the dictionary to bolster his vocabulary for lyrics, but was less
The singer said: "I was a smart kid, but I hated school. I failed ninth grade three
"I just wanted to rap. I'd go to friends' houses and rap, or I'd stay in my room all
Now the second biggest recording star in America, behind N'Sync, he's beaten black
In the song The Way I Am, he hits back: "And I just do not got the patience to deal with
Former pal Jesse Gaston, 20, an African American who grew up playing basketball in the
But for the young Eminem, struggling against the bullies, life at home was just as
Childhood sweetheart Kim, who moved in with his family when she was 12, recalled:
The couple eventually moved out and lived with former school pal Mark 'DJ Rec' Claus.
Mark said: "His mum was screwed up and he didn't want to be around it. Marshall didn't
Co-workers at Gilbert's Lodge restaurant, where he worked before he hit the big time,
They say he used to rhyme food orders to pass the time and worked tirelessly to achieve
Neighbour Ramona Dorsey said: "He was an all right kid, no worse than a lot and a lot
And while he worked diligently to further his career, while holding down a job, Kim was
Their relationship has since turned sour and they divorced last October - but not before
Pal Jay Fields said: "Kim has been the basis of a lot of his songs. Pain, mystery, love
But it wasn't always that way. Eminem said: "Not to defend Kim but I realise what has
"She's one of those people who is real down to earth, like, 'Hello! You're living in
Increasingly, Eminem felt Kim was losing her faith in him. He said: "To be honest,
He seems determined to stay near those few close friends. Like Elvis, who chose to
Rejecting a celebrity mansion in Los Angeles, he bought a house in the Sterling Heights
Last year he skipped the Grammy Awards but was seen out in bars and clubs near his home.
He said: "I tried to stay close to home. I bought the house in Sterling Heights when I
"It was like, 'I better grab this house, I don't know if any more money is coming'.
"I bought the house, got it on the main road, just figuring I might get a couple of fans
"But I stayed close to home just because I'm so used to it. A lot of people don't understand
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