Marshall’s skill quickly became evident, although his breakthrough did
not occur until the mid-nineties, when legendary producer Dr Dre
discovered his work and tracked him down. The two worked together
on the superb Slim Shady LP, which was an international success, and
since then, Eminem has just got better and better.
Eminem also worked with Dre on his second LP. The reception of this
album, the Marshall Mathers LP (released in 2000), established
Eminem’s as an act of pure class. It won three Grammies and it was the
first ever rap album to be nominated for the prestigious Album of the
Year accolade. Within the United States alone, this brilliant creation sold
over 8 million copies. And at the 2001 Grammies, Eminem’s position as
a global superstar was cemented when he performed the popular song
Stan with the legendary Elton John.
No fewer than four brilliant albums have followed this success, the most
recent being 2010’s Recovery. The multi-talented Eminem also starred
in the superb movie, 8 Mile, in 2002, and has acted in many other films.
We are huge fans of 8 Mile. It’s about the struggles of a white rapper to
break into a hip-hop industry dominated by African-Americans, in an
echo of Eminem’s own story. It’s incredible to think that even when
Eminem’s rapping ability was recognised, he was sometimes rejected
simply on the grounds of his race. Here in Abu Dhabi, we have an
incredibly diverse population with a cosmopolitan outlook – and we are
always receptive to messages of peace and prosperity.
OK, so ‘peacefulness’ may not be a quality that you’d automatically
associate with the high-octane Eminem. But while much of the superstar
rapper’s infectious energy comes from his anger, he also displays a
thoughtful side.
For example, one of the most moving songs of the evening was Like Toy
Soldiers, in which Eminem makes an impassioned argument for the
ending of violence and ‘beefs’ between rappers. It’s dedicated to Proof, a
former hip-hop artist who was sadly shot in 2006. The video behind his
live performance showed rappers who have previously died – such as
Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls – as well as Proof, who actually played
a rapper who was shot in the song’s video only a year before he himself
died.
At this concert, we were delighted to be entertaining sophisticated and
elegant guests from across the world, and each of them was thoroughly
impressed by the energetic performance they had witnessed.
Phillipe Ducroix, who had travelled here by private jet from Monaco,
said that he found the rapper’s raw energy “absolutely compelling”.
I am so glad to have seen Eminem perform live,” he said. “You have had
so many stars perform here in Abu Dhabi, but there is no one that I
would have rather seen tonight.”
Two of our other good friends were also in attendance. The Tan sisters
Eileen, from Singapore, and Claudia, who now lives in Hong Kong –
had arranged to meet in Abu Dhabi during the Formula One festivities.
It’s one of the happiest days of my life,” said Eileen, who had not seen
her sister for over a year. She is a huge fan of Eminem and had recently
bought a pair of Dr Dre’s popular ‘Beats’ headphones to listen to his
albums on.
Both women had made a real occasion of the event, flying first class into
Abu Dhabi’s sensational airport accompanied by their own private
security officers. Claudia confided to us that she had listened to
Eminem’s music “virtually non-stop” throughout the flight, and she had
been ecstatic to find that 8 Mile was available to view on the in-flight
entertainment system. “Why not treat yourself to a little luxury now and
again?” said Claudia.
Eminem’s performance to close the Formula One weekend follows in
the footsteps of many celebrated artists, including Aerosmith, Prince and
Paul McCartney. He can certainly stand tall among these names: from
his humble beginnings, the man was clearly born to be a star.
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