Marshall Bruce Mathers, aka "Eminem," aka "Slim Shady," broke the barriers of rap, and changed the game of hip hop. Slim Shady became one of the most popular artists of all time through rhetoric. He did not appeal to one genre, rapped with great controversy, and did so with great success.
Marshall Mathers grew up in a predominately black community of Detroit, where he would attend rap battles gaining the approval of the underground hip hop audience of a majority black crowd. Eminem was ridiculed, thrown off stages, and even bullied. Although this seems bad, it was nothing compared to black rappers coming from Compton and Philadelphia. Yet Eminem used his struggle as an advantage, and instead of rapping about his struggles through the hood, Eminem rapped about fighting and making fun of the media. Slim Shady breaks stereotypical boundaries, embodying the image of an anti-authority rebel, rather than the "white working class." In the song "Who Knew?" Eminem states, "I don't do black music, I don't do white music, I make fight music" (Calhoun, 276). His strategy removes race from marketing, and instead appeals to a more universal audience. At the time, the rap industry was dominated by the likes of NWA: Straight Outa Compton, Tupac, and Biggie Smalls. All of these rappers talked about the struggle to come up, and their fight to success in a predominately white world of police brutality and black stereotypes. There was no chance for a white rapper to break out, yet Vanilla Ice had high hopes to becoming the next great MC. Born Robert Van Winkle, "Vanilla Ice attempted to act from the hood, becoming a detriment to himself and the hip hop community" (Calhoun, 278). .
Instead of pretending to become someone he is not, Eminem created alter-egos. Marshall Mathers was who he really is, Eminem is his stage persona, and Slim Shady is the "no holds barred" rapper using rhetoric to spark controversy in his songs across the world.