Merriam Webster provides the definition for ‘music’ being the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity. It is a beautiful form of expression that has the ability to envelop the soul if allowed to flourish. Through this majestic concept based upon sound, most of us acquire an addiction to it without ever realizing. Fortunately, unlike addiction with most other things, an addiction to music doesn’t necessarily end on a bad note.
There are so many diverse forms of tune out there, it’s hard to put them all in the spotlight. Music has the capability to help us feel emotion when we’re trying desperately to numb it away. Music allows us to thrive, motivating us when times are tough. Music even provides role models for those that need someone to look up to in this life of uncertainty. For those looking, look no further.
When it comes to rap/hip-hop, or sobriety in general, the spotlight is shining on Marshall Mathers this week(although it’s not uncommon for this man’s illumination). Marshall, known mostly by his stage presence as Eminem and sometimes Slim Shady, celebrated 11 years of sobriety this week. Posting a humble photograph to social media of his palm holding an 11 year medallion with the caption “11 years- still not afraid”, most of us are thrilled to see the growth of this brilliant rap god over the last decade plus.
Marshal is no stranger to media attention, positive or negative. As of late, they’re typically pragmatic and favorable. However, most of us can remember all the headlines the ‘8 Mile’ rapper has debuted in due to lyrical controversies and defending lawsuits. If not, at the very least we can remember all the public outcries and complaints his songs garnered from radio stations playing them in the early 2000s. There were a lot of upset moms to say in the least.
Eminem dropped his first official album, ‘The Slim Shady LP’, in 1999. This won him his first grammy award right from the get go. Soon to follow over the next few years were ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ and ‘The Eminem Show’, both winning multiple grammys as well. Seemingly overnight he had become one of the top selling artists in the world; everyone knew of his name. He began touring worldwide, selling millions of albums, and making more money than he probably knew what to do with. Quite an unexpected ride for somebody coming from a trailer park as well as being a white rapper in a predominantly black outlet of music. Anybody would’ve been jealous to be him, yet things are never as easy as they seem looking from the outside in.
Throughout the duration of these projects, the pressures of becoming one of the world’s biggest hip-hop acts began to get to him. Via all the touring and constant projects, including a debut film based loosely upon his life, Marshall began to lack sleep as well as sanity. Not to mention one of his best friends/musical associates was accidentally killed, causing him to cope in a ruinous manner. He began experimenting with sleeping pills such as Ambien, but quickly coupled that along with unhealthy doses of Vicodin and Valium everyday just to get by. Unfortunately though, he was not immune to the realities of alcoholic thinking through his stardom. Soon the signs of addiction would make themselves known:
- Intense cravings
- Physical dependence
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Drug-seeking behaviors
- Neglect responsibilities
- Developing unhealthy relationships with those who support addiction
This was the beginning of what would ultimately lead to an unwarranted and life threatening hiatus from the spotlight.
As Eminem began spiraling downward, he began putting on weight dramatically, filling out his once slender figure up to 230 pounds at one point. “In 2007, I overdosed on pills, and I went into the hospital. I was close to 230 pounds. I’m not sure how I got so big, but I have ideas. The coating on the Vicodin and the Valium I’d been taking for years leaves a hole in your stomach, so to avoid a stomach ache, I was constantly eating—and eating badly”, the now 46 year old rapper exclaims years later.
His music was becoming sillier and critics were still wondering if he still even had the lyrical ability he once seemed to demonstrate. His last album ‘Encore’, put out in 2004, collected very harsh reception at the time. Having not put an album out in years and canceling certain tour events, his relevance was absolutely waning. Nonetheless pertinent or not, it all came to a crashing halt in 2007 when he was found unresponsive after having a nearly fatal overdose.
The Future and On
For Marshall, just like many of us in recovery, this incident was the catalyst for him getting his life together. This overdose was the turning point in both his addiction and his career. Seeking detox and treatment afterward, it sparked him to get clean in 2008, which allowed him to relaunch his career in 2009. After that, it was off to the races re-establishing himself as the dominant rhythm and poetry force he was/still is.
The next several albums to come out in his newly constructed sobriety laminated him as one of the greatest rappers of all time, if ever there was any doubt beforehand. His return brought on a plethora of new standards that seem implausible- gaining awards for many of them. Throughout the entirety of his career, Eminem has been nominated for 355 awards and has won 155 of them, ranging A-Z from Academy Awards to Youtube Music Awards. It may be strange but it’s safe to say, Marshalls looking his best at 46.