Dr. Dre was so impressed after hearing Eminem freestyling on a
Los Angeles radio station that he put out a manhunt for the Michigan rhymer.
Shortly thereafter, Dre signed Eminem to his Aftermath imprint and the two began
working together. Thoroughly impressed with Eminem's previously released
independent Slim Shady EP, Dre said they would include many of the EP's tracks
on the album.
"It was an honour to hear the words out of Dre's mouth that he liked my sh*t," Eminem says. "Growing up, I was one of the biggest fans of N.W.A, from putting on the sunglasses and looking in the mirror and lipsinking to wanting to be Dr. Dre, to be Ice Cube. This is the biggest hip-hop producer ever."
But like many other rappers, Eminem's rise to stardom was far from easy. After being born in Kansas City and travelling back and forth between KC and the Detroit metropolitan area, Eminem and his mother moved into the Eastside of Detroit when he was 12. Switching schools every two to three months made it difficult to make friends, graduate and to stay out of trouble.
Rap, however, became Eminem's solace. Battling schoolmates in the lunchroom brought joy to what was otherwise a painful existence. Although he would later drop out of school and land several minimum-wage-paying, full-time jobs, his musical focus remained constant.
Eminem released his debut album, Infinite, in 1996. Desperate to be embraced by the Motor City's hip-hop scene, Eminem rapped in such a manner that he was accused of sounding like Nas and AZ.
"Infinite was me trying to figure out how I wanted my rap style to be, how I wanted to sound on the mic and present myself," he recalls. "It was a growing stage. I felt like Infinite was like a demo that just got pressed up."