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Early career

Interested in rap from a young age, Mathers began performing as early
as thirteen, later gaining some popularity with a group, Soul Intent.
In 1996, he released his first independent album, named Infinite (of
which he sold about 500 copies out of the back of his car.) The album
received no airplay and a mixed critical response, with people
claiming Eminem's rapping style sounded too similar to Nas and AZ.
Drawing on the negative experiences of his life, in 1997 Eminem
followed Infinite up with The Slim Shady EP demo, which saw his lyrics
take a decidedly darker turn, in songs like "No One's Iller" and
"Murder Murder," the latter in which he talks about having to commit
crimes to feed his daughter. He became famous in the hip-hop
underground because of his distinctive, cartoonish style and the fact
that he was white in a predominantly black genre. Fellow rapper Snoop
Dogg referred to him as rap's "great white American hope" in the song
"Bitch Please II".

It is said that rap artist and producer Dr. Dre found Eminem's demo on
the garage floor of Jimmy Iovine, the Interscope label chief. Though
this did not directly lead to a recording contract, Dr. Dre agreed to
sign him when Eminem won second place versus Otherwize at the 1997 Rap
Olympics freestyle battle. Other sources state that an executive at
the offices of Interscope handed the demo to Iovine who passed it to
Dre, which resulted in a contract.


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