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11 Revealing Moments From Eminem’s Early Days

Check out these vintage clips of the rapper’s budding skills


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Since The Slim Shady LP became a worldwide smash in 1999, Eminem has reigned as a pop-culture phenomenon. The rapper's recently-released The Marshall Mathers LP 2 moved 792,000 copies in its first week of release, underscoring that Slim Shady is still a blockbuster box office draw. But despite all the multi-platinum plaques and global media attention, Em's career has its roots planted firmly in the rap underground; he spent years toiling away on the live battle circuit in a bid to build up his name and recorded widely before finally scoring his breakthrough moments. Delving back to the cusp of the Nineties, here's a run through the less-heralded regions of the pre-superstar Slim Shady's vault.


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The Marilyn Manson Collaboration

Recorded live at Club Hibernia in Boston, this 1998 video interview begins with Eminem throwing up trademark middle fingers to the camera and disclaiming, "That's for everybody who don't give a fuck. That's for everybody who don't like my shit. That's for everybody who tries to test me. That's for every time I got to go through some dumb bullshit." After he's done with the posturing, Em reveals he's about to drop two singles ("Just Don't Give a Fuck" and "My Name Is") and that he recorded an unspecified song with Marilyn Manson ("We don't know if they're gonna drop that, I don't know what the deal is with that").

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‘Green and Gold’

One of a number of pre-Slim Shady LP cameos, Eminem teamed up with the rappers Vesuveo and Able from the Anonymous collective for this 1998 release on the Good Vibe label. Em sparks the song with a spoken-word introduction that ponders, "What would it take to push a man far enough to put something material over a human life?" Then he drops rhymes over a production by Zinndeadly that begin with him claiming, "I done filled my lungs up with so much of this crack smoke," before embarking on a calamitous robbing spree.

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The Demo Version of ‘Rock Bottom’

Beyond the cartoon braggadocio of lead single "My Name Is," Eminem's The Slim Shady LP is cut through with allusions to depression and desperation. "Rock Bottom" is one of the album tracks forged from that mold. This demo version of the song comes off like a moodier and pared-down version of the final edit, as a Percocet-popping Em laments about being "broke as fuck" and how his "daughter's down to her last diaper."

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The Rawkus Release

Rumors abound that Eminem was close to signing to the James Murdoch-funded Rawkus record label, which came to define an era of indie rap during the late Nineties. Here he lines up alongside company man Shabaam Sahdeeq plus A.L., Kwest and Skam for the underground posse cut classic "5 Star Generals." Over a plucky beat courtesy of DJ Spinna, Em's verse includes his classic brag that he's "probably the only one crazy enough to shoot your ass with a knife and stab you with a gun." (See also: Em's turn on Old World Disorder's "3hree6ix5ive," released on Spinna's Beyond Real label.)

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The Demo Tape

A purported demo tape cut in tandem with fellow Soul Intent member Chaos Kid in the early Nineties has the two aspiring rappers spitting quick-fire rhymes over uptempo, funk-infused productions. (Song titles include "Unrealistically Graphic" and "Artificial Flavor.") A phone interview with Chaos Kid that has now been posted to YouTube attempts to clarify the heritage of the recordings. Unfortunately, Chaos Kid passed away in 2011 from an apparent suicide.

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