"God sent me to piss the world off," Eminem boasts on his breakthrough hit "My Name Is." A grandiose claim to be sure, but it's hard to imagine another rapper generating as much controversy and outrage as this bleach-blonde Detroit MC outlaw while still selling millions of records and becoming a hero to pop fans and hardcore hip-hop purists alike. The sharp-tongued product of crushing poverty and an unstable homelife, Eminem is much more than the goofy smartass he usually portrays himself as. Beyond the artist's inventive rhyming skills and appealingly warped lyrical persona, the multi-platinum major-label albums The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP present a dark, psychologically complex character whose vivid, vengeful rhymes embody a timely collision of Midwestern white trash and urban hip-hop cultures, while portraying an unpredictably violent yet absurdly hilarious world. Adopting the cartoonish yet unsettling persona of Slim Shady, Eminem spins colorfully absurd narratives involving sadistic violence while reflecting the tortured psyche of a deeply conflicted character whose real-life pain lurks beneath the surface of his outrageous alter ego.
It's those contradictions that help make Eminem a uniquely compelling artist whose primal appeal transcends boundaries of race and musical genre. Eminem: Crossing the Line, the first biography ever written of this unique pop-culture icon, offers a fascinating peek into the strange and twisted world of Slim Shady.