A protege of Dr. Dre, rapper Eminem was born Marshall Mathers in St. Joseph, MO (near Kansas City), spending the better part of his impoverished childhood shuttling back and forth between his hometown and the city of Detroit. Initially attracted to rap as a teen, Eminem began performing at age 14, later earning notoriety as a member of the Motor City duo Soul Intent. He made his solo debut in 1996 with the independent release Infinite, soon followed by the Slim Shady EP; both records made a huge splash in the hip-hop underground, earning notice not only for Eminem's exaggerated, nasal-voiced rapping style but also for his skin color, with many quarters dubbing him the music's next "great white hope." According to legend, Dr. Dre discovered his demo tape on the floor of Interscope label chief Jimmy Iovine's garage, although it was not until Eminem took second place in the freestyle category at 1997's Rap Olympics MC battle in Los Angeles that Dre agreed to sign him.
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