After his independent debut went largely under the radar, Eminem’s career was quickly jump started by the release of his major label debut album fifteen years ago today (February 23). The Slim Shady LP, which was Eminem’s first release to include production from Dr. Dre, has since helped define the star’s career after it debuted at the #2 spot on Billboard’s Top 200 (right behind TLC’s FanMail). While the 8 Mile star holds down the majority of the album on his own, The Slim Shady LP prominently features Dre on “Guilty Conscious” and an emcee he’d later beef with and reconcile with in Royce da 5’9” on “Bad Meets Evil.”
Besides Dre, frequent Eminem collaborators and the emcee’s early supporters the Bass Brothers produced the majority of the album. Ten days after its release, The Slim Shady LP, which introduced many fans to Eminem’s infamous alter ego, was awarded a platinum plaque by the RIAA for selling more than a million units. In November of 2000, a little less than two years removed from its release, The Slim Shady LP had sold enough copies to be certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA. While Eminem has since been named the best-selling Hip Hop artist of all time, his commercial reign no doubt has its roots in this release.
Eminem's The Slim Shady LP Reviews Revisited
Gaining critical attention as much as commercial traction, The Slim Shady LP was reviewed favorably by many websites and magazines. Shortly after its release, Rolling Stone called Eminem “the dizziest Hip Hop clown since Biz Markie first got the vapors.” The same review broached the subject of Eminem’s whiteness—as he himself does on the album—with a note that race did figure into the then-rising star’s career and work. “A hip-hop disciple inheriting a twisted American racial history he didn't create, Eminem probably speaks for a lot of his fans when he asks, ‘How the fuck can I be White? / I don't even exist...’ Eminem earns his buzz as a bona fide rap star one tasteless insult at a time, battling the world with a mouthful of adjectives and a boxful of laxatives.” Like Rolling Stone, a Los Angeles Times reviewer awarded the album three and a half stars calling it an “explosive major-label debut.” “In Eminem's bizarre stories, he battles his conscience in exploits such as robbing an old woman, drugging and sexually assaulting an underage girl and murdering his adulterous wife. He isn't afraid to say anything; his lyrics are so clever that he makes murder sound as if it's a funny act he may indulge in simply to pass the time.” Rolling Stone later included Slim Shady on its list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time”—it clocked in at 273—as well as its “100 Best Albums of the ‘90s” list.
Eminem The Slim Shady LP Singles & Awards
While the album as a whole fared generally better on the charts than its individual successes, singles like “My Name Is” and “Guilty Conscious” helped turn Eminem from an independent lyricist to a household name. “My Name Is,” which seemed to serve as Em’s formal introduction to the world as much as the album’s lead single, quickly shot up the charts and stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for more than two months. The song’s video can be streamed below.
Later, in May of 1999, “Role Model” was released as the album’s second single ahead of the Dr. Dre featuring “Guilty Conscious.” In 2005, both “My Name Is” and “Guilty Conscious” appeared on the tracklist to Eminem’s greatest hits album Curtain Call: The Hits. “Guilty Conscious,” which was one of the few tracks on the album produced by Dre, went on to earn a double platinum plaque of its own and received a popular set of accompanying visuals as well.
Besides the album’s commercial success, The Slim Shady LP also earned Em his first round of major awards, including his first set of Grammys for Best Rap Album and a Best Rap Solo Performance award for “My Name Is.”
Eminem Since The Slim Shady LP
Just as The Slim Shady LP helped place Eminem on the map as one of the greatest commercial Hip Hop artists of all time, it also attracted the type of criticism that has accompanied the Detroit emcee ever since. Labeled “homophobic” and “misogynistic,” among other things, both Eminem and his music have continued to weather punches from the Hip Hop community in particular and the mainstream media more generally, regarding lyrical content. Following the release of The Slim Shady LP, Eminem quickly became one of the country’s biggest stars and continued to release music.
In May of 2000, a little more than a year removed from Slim Shady, the rapper dropped his third album, The Marshall Mathers LP, which became the fastest selling solo album of all time with nearly two million albums sold its first week on shelves. Continuing his penchant for flamboyant shock-value, Em’s “The Real Slim Shady” preceded “The Way I Am” as a controversial single on his third album. In 2009, HipHopDX placed Em’s junior release on a list of the ten best albums of the 2000s. “Unprepared to deal with the swell of fame, love and hate brought on by his debut, Eminem was in the middle of a perfect storm when crafting the MMLP,” HipHopDX said at the time. “He dealt with his newfound fame, fan obsession, influence on kids and family issues, all while thumbing his nose at critics.”
Nearly two years removed from The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem released his fourth album, The Eminem Show in 2002. That year The Eminem Show was easily named the best selling album of the year and continued the rapper’s successful streak at album retailers and award shows alike. Following Best Rap Album awards for The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP, Em’s Grammy in the same category for The Eminem Show made him the first Hip Hop artist to win the award for three consecutive releases. That year, HipHopDX awarded the album four and a half stars. “Eminem's evolution as an artist has come to a head on The Eminem Show. From underground hero to hip hop superstar to one of the world most controversial people, Eminem has moved to the next level.”
Eminem continued to release music throughout the ‘00s as a solo artist as well as a member of D12. In 2004 he released Encore before taking a musical hiatus for several years. That year DX gave the album three and a half stars with a note to fans that it is “undoubtedly Em's worst major solo release” and “surprisingly not funny.”
After five years of inactivity with album releases, Em returned before the end of the decade with Relapse in 2009, putting his substance abuse on prominent display. Like Encore, DX awarded Relapse three and a half stars. “For one of the very few superstars in Hip Hop who has made his career on lyrical content, it is pretty disappointing that after a five year hiatus he came back with so little to say, without his trademark colorful canvas.” Seemingly making up for lost time, Eminem released Recovery the next year. That album received a half star rating bump from this publication and features Lil Wayne, P!nk, and Rihanna. “Em adapted with the times,” DX wrote at the time, “and even during his musical missteps, he’s pushing himself to experiment. After all, it’s not 2003 anymore.”
Last year, Eminem released the sequel to his popular major label sophomore album with The Marshall Mathers LP 2. While the album was included on HipHopDX's list of disappointing albums of the year, it received a four star rating nonetheless. "Sure, it may be one of the better LPs you hear in 2013, but make no mistake: The Marshall Mathers LP 2 only serves to tarnish the original’s legacy, whereas titling it something else could’ve just meant another passable addition to Eminem’s night-and-day catalogue."