x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Eminem: A man of many hats

Ahead of his performance closing the Yasalam After-Race Concerts on Sunday, we look at how the rapper became a cultural phenomenon.

Eminem's wide range of music gives him mass appeal. Matt Sayles / AP Photo
Eminem's wide range of music gives him mass appeal. Matt Sayles / AP Photo

Eminem has been given the prized slot of closing the Yasalam After-Race Concerts on Sunday. With the rapper turning 40 this month, we take a look at how he became a cultural phenomenon

The man

Eminem – real name Marshall Bruce Mathers III – is the rare artist straddling both the hip-hop and pop worlds while at the same time retaining his street credibility. With more than 100 million albums sold, he is one of the most successful artists of all time, as well as the top-selling artist of the 2000s

The rapper

As well as his unflinching lyrics, Eminem is renowned for a shape-shifting flow that could move from cartoonish (Without Me) to forceful (Lose Yourself) to introspective (Stan) to blood-curdling (Kim). Shifts in verbal styles allow him to cross genres and create his celebrated alter ego, the unhinged Slim Shady.

The songs

For more than a decade, Eminem has been racking up hits, with eight chart toppers in territories ranging from the US to the UK, and 10 tracks landing in the US Top 10. From the rocking Lose Yourself and the balladry of Stan to the soulful Sing for the Moment and the straight-up pop-rap of Without Me, Eminem works with a wider musical palette than his fellow rappers. This explains his mass appeal, from hip-hop heads and indie kids to suburban mums.

The albums

Five of Eminem's seven albums debuted on top of the US charts. Three of them - The Marshall Mathers LP (2000), The Eminem Show (2002) and Encore (2004) - sold more than 10 million copies each.

The tours

Eminem has been involved in some of hip-hop's biggest tours, both as a headliner and a guest artist. In 2000 he joined the legendary Up in Smoke Tour, featuring a mouthwatering line-up that included Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube. The same year, Eminem cofounded The Anger Management Tour, one of the first tours targeting both a hip-hop and hard-rock audience. Eminem shared the stage with a varied bunch including Limp Bizkit, Ludacris, Papa Roach, 50 Cent and Rammstein.

The ringleader

Eminem rolls with his all-Detroit posse D12. Cementing their brotherhood, Eminem fulfilled his promise that when he became successful he would take the collective along for the ride. Eminem and the group created two successful D12 albums as well as toured together.

The producer

While Eminem's early sound was largely formed by his mentor, Dr Dre, the rapper showed production skills of his own as he took further control of his sound. His production style is generally dense and melodramatic with a heavy rock element. This is best displayed in his album The Eminem Show.

The label owner

It was Eminem who first understood 50 Cent's star potential. Excited by his mix tapes, Eminem cosigned the New York rapper to his label Shady Records. 50 Cent's first album, Get Rich or Die Tryin', is one of the fastest-selling debut albums in the US.

The legacy

As well as expanding the boundaries of hip-hop, Eminem has left a mark on popular culture. His success allowed hip-hop, a genre dominated by African Americans, to reach new demographics and social classes, from the ghetto to the suburbs.

The future

Earlier this week Eminem unveiled a new hat for sale at his online store. It lists every year he has released an album and, curiously, 2013 was included - a hint that next year is shaping up to be another big one for the superstar rapper.

Eminem plays Sunday at du Arena as part of the Yasalam After-Race Concerts. The performance can only be accessed by F1 ticket holders, who must collect their Yasalam After-Race Concert wristband from the Yas Marina Circuit on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Doors open 7pm. For more information go to www.yasalam.ae