The Inspiring Story Of How Eminem Transformed From Troubled Teen To Rap Sensation

On the 17th of October 1972, Marshall Bruce Mathers III was born into a ‘broken home’ in St. Joeseph, Missouri. His father (Marshall Bruce Mathers II) left him and his mother (Deborah R. Mathers aka Debbie Mathers) when Eminem was just a couple of months old. Marshall had, what you would call a very traumatising childhood.

He had to change a lot of schools due to his mother moving from place to place frequently and that resulted in a lot of bullying, mostly just for him being ‘the new kid’. He briefly explained the bullying incidents in his songs  ‘Brain Damage’ (where he expresses how he felt being bullied by D’Angelo Bailey) out of the ‘The Slim Shady LP’ (his second studio album released in 1999) and ‘Legacy’ (where he explains how he was bullied and it was hip-hop that helped him rise above it) in ‘The Marshall Mathers LP II’ (his eighth studio album released in 2013).

Also, bullying was not the only problem that Marshall had to face when he was young. His mother was fond of using a drug called ‘Valium’ (a drug used to cure anxiety by generating calming effects) due to some of her own issues. Moreover, she fed those pills to little Marshall for many years. Eminem briefly explained these events in songs such as ‘My Mom’ where he explains how his mother made him a valium addict by adding the drug in his food in the album ‘Relapse’ which was his sixth studio album released in 2009. Not to forget the heart-wrenching song ‘cleaning out my closet’ where he expresses his anger for his mother in ‘The Eminem Show’- his fourth studio album released in 2002.

All these issues are more than enough to demoralise a kid and in spite of all of them, Eminem found his power in hip-hop music. Young Marshall used to bang his head back and forth while listening to hip-hop music. This was explained by his mother and grandmother in the documentary titled ‘The Life Of Marshall Mathers’.

The English language and hip-hop music were the only two things young Marshall was fond of. He used to carry a dictionary with him all the time in order to make sure that he could add any new words, that he came across, to his vocabulary.

The man who introduced Eminem to hip-hop music was his uncle ‘Ronnie’ and soon Marshall started to write his own lyrics (when he was 14-years-old). In 1991, Ronnie killed himself over a girl. Young Marshall was devastated as Ronnie was his only role model at that time. This made him more dependent on hip-hop music and he started writing more and more lyrics. Soon after that, he teamed up with his friend ‘Proof’ (DeShaun Dupree Holton) to take part in local Rap Battles.

He initially had to face a lot of criticism due to the colour of his skin as hip-hop was known to be an African-American art form. However, people would change their opinions after hearing him spit (a term used in hip-hop, meaning ‘speaking’). He even went on to be the runner up of the ‘Rap Olympics’, losing to the rapper ‘Otherwize’. That’s when people started calling him by the name ‘Eminem’.

Eminem released his debut studio album ‘Infinite’ on November 12, 1996. Unfortunately, the album was a flop. This broke Eminem’s heart and he even attempted suicide. That’s when he had a life-changing idea that gave his career the spark it needed. He invented his alter-ego, Slim Shady (the evil and mischievous side of Eminem).

He released the Slim Shady EP on December 16th, 1997. That’s when it hit the ears of Dr Dre (Aftermath Records) and Jimmy Iovine (Interscope Records). Eminem teamed up with Dr Dre to release his second studio album and his first sky shattering hit album ‘The Slim Shady LP’. The album sold many copies and proved to be something that Eminem needed very badly.

A still from the movie ‘8 Mile’, released in 2002.

He went on to open his own record label ‘Shady Records’ that gave him all the rights of the music created by him. In 2002, a movie based on Eminem’s own life ‘8 Mile’ was released. The movie portrayed the struggles of a white rapper trying to make a name for himself in the harsh parts of Detroit, Michigan. The song Lose Yourself’ from the soundtrack of the movie went on to win an academy award for the best original song.

Eminem released many great songs and albums after that and just last year, he took the world by storm when he released his ‘Kamikaze’ album as a surprise. People say that he brought back ‘Slim Shady’ in the Kamikaze album and this can be seen in his most recent works after the release of the album.

Eminem truly has an amazing and inspiring story. A story that we all can learn a lot from. Especially, the most important lesson a person can ever learn, a lesson to ‘Never Give Up’.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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