Alright, this is just one of the many artists I have a lot of knowledge about so I'll start with probably the most heard of one. Second post on this forum, so should be fun
Just a warning. Some of the videos in the links do contain explicit language. I marked the ones that do with a *.
Introduction: First off he was born in 1972 and his real name is Marshal Mathers. While Eminem did not become a big name until 1999, he was definitely taking part in rapping and hip-hop during the 80's and earlier 90's. According to him, he first decided to get into hip-hop in 1984 when he was given the Beastie Boys album as a gift. Until 1995, he was a member of the group bassiment productions. In 1995 they changed their name to Soul Intent and he released a very good song (imo) Biterphobia. Song's like these were underground however and never saw huge popularity. Interesting enough, many of Eminem's best songs are not singles and do not get played on the radio. Another interesting piece of information is that his style changes almost every album. Very few other artists have had the almost consistent success in one decade that he has had.
Infinite and Slim Shady EP: In 1996 he released his first album Infinite which included 10 songs and 1 skit. Unfortunately the album did not sell well and was criticized as being too much like other artists. The content of the album does not fall short though! If you are a fan of early 90s beats and calmer hip-hop, I would check this out. It sounds nothing like the Eminem you hear on the radio today and the quality of lyrics is just as good. For a starter song I would check out Infinite or It's Okay.
After the failure of the first album he released Slim Shady EP in 1997. In this album he created the alter-ego Slim Shady, which of course is well known. Slim Shady was introduced through the intro skit on the EP. His first single was also released which was also off this album titled "I Just Don't Give a ****". This single caused some controversy because of the lyrics and also sported a very bizarre *music video which was released in 1999. His style in this album differs from Infinite by introducing a more "choppy" style and less of the constant flow that infinite provides. However, it was good enough to get the attention of Dr. Dre who signed him in 1998.
The LPs: The first two albums Eminem released while working with Dr. Dre were The Slim Shady LP and The Marshal Mathers LP. Both of which differ greatly in content. Both contain sound effects related to the lyrics.
In 1999 The Slim Shady LP was released which featured almost all songs on the previous EP version, plus more. While he keeps the same rapping style as the EP, the beats remain more calm. In the album he discusses his struggles with poverty, his unfaithful wife, and then lashes out at everyone who opposes him. Lyrically, he strings together his rhymes to form stories. His voice sounds even more cartoony than the EP. This album is still very calm compared to what comes later. In this album he extends the use of Skits and they help the album flow a bit better. The most notable transition from skit to song is "Lounge" to "My Fault" (he basically sets you in a humorous mood, then shatters it). Some recommended songs would be *Rock Bottom, *Brain Damage, and *Still Don't Give a ****. This album starts two traditions held in most albums by him. The first is a song containing the intro "Some people ask me...." (Still Don't Give a ****) and the second is a song about his wife. *97' Bonnie and Clyde talks about him dumping his wife's body into the ocean.
The Marshal Mathers LP was quickly released in 2000 and completely changed the sound of his music. Where Infinite's beats were upbeat and cheerful and SSLP's were cartoony, but still upbeat, MMLP's beats are much darker. The feel of the Slim Shady character changes from a child picking fun at the world to an angry teenager with a bad temper. Most of the album Eminem lashes out at his opponents mercilessly to extreme points in songs like **The Way I Am and **Marshal Mathers. His most controversial song is "Kim" which is the prelude to *97' Bonnie and Clyde off the previous album. The song is incredibly disturbing and he describes murdering his wife. I would not recommend listening to this one unless you don't mind losing your sanity for a bit . The "A lot of people ask me..." song is Criminal. In this album he continues the use of skits and the most notable transition from skit to song is "*Steve Berman (skit)" to "*The Way I Am".
Information is from his own song lyrics, Wikipedia, Interviews found on Youtube, eminem.com, and my own opinions .
-Slim Shady EP (1997)
-The Slim Shady LP (1999)
-The Marshal Mathers LP (2000)
D12 Devil's Night (2001)
The Eminem Show (2002)
D12 World (2004)
Curtain Call: The Hits (2005)
The Re-Up (2006)
Relapse and Relapse: Refill (2009)
to be continued....
p.s. Looking through this forum I see a lot of older music being talked about. Hopefully I can bring to light some of the newer stuff that is actually good because it is becoming increasingly harder to find.