When Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, made his album debut with The Slim Shady LP in the spring of 1999, he evoked an immediate and controversial response. Although album sales went platinum virtually overnight and his popularity soared among hip-hop fans of every color and race, the establishment lost no time in condemning him as a threat to the moral fiber of society due to his violent themes and profanity-laced lyrics. To add to the controversy, his mother immediately launched a $10 million lawsuit for slander and defamation of character, alleging his interviews and song lyrics portraying her as an abusive drug addict were untrue and had caused loss of self-esteem, humiliation, and mental distress. Such lawsuits soon became commonplace, leading Mathers to observe cynically “for every million I make, another relative sues” (Marshall Mathers, The Marshall Mathers LP).
By Jack Westerfil