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Drug news puts Eminem at crossroads

Rapper canceled tour, but denies rumors of retirement
/ Source: The Associated Press

Eminem’s soap opera of a life has taken another sudden turn.

Thursday night’s announcement that Eminem had entered a hospital to undergo treatment for sleep medication dependency came days after he canceled his European tour, citing exhaustion. And a month ago, the 32-year-old rap superstar denied reports that he was preparing to retire from recording.

“It’s a really unique situation where you have someone who is at a crossroads personally and professionally,” said Elliott Wilson, editor in chief of the hip-hop magazine XXL.

The man born Marshall Mathers III rose to pop stardom over the past six years by delivering four best-selling CDs, deeply personal lyrics and a starring role in the semi-autobiographical film “8 Mile.” So his life story is known to millions: A transient childhood spent mostly in Detroit and its suburbs; a series of dead-end jobs; plenty of drug use; contentious relationships with his mother and wife; and an undying love of his young daughter.

His most recent album, “Encore,” was released last year, and he recently finished the nationwide “Anger Management” tour.

“Hopefully, he can figure out where he is mentally,” said Wilson, whose magazine has published several long interviews with Eminem. “Ultimately, he’s going to have to make some career choices. How many records does he plan on doing? Will this be the last tour?”

‘Taking a break’In July, Eminem denied an impending retirement, but did hint at a breather.

“When I say I’m taking a break, I’m taking a break from my music to go in the studio and produce my other artists and put their albums out,” he said on MTV’s Web site. “When I know my next move, I’ll tell everyone my next move.”

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Dennis Dennehy, Eminem’s publicist, declined to comment Friday. A call to Paul Rosenberg, the rapper’s manager, was directed to Dennehy.

In 2001, Eminem was sentenced by a Michigan judge to two years’ probation and ordered to submit to drug testing for carrying a concealed weapon. Police said Eminem pistol-whipped a man he said he saw kissing his estranged wife, Kim Mathers, outside a nightclub.

He hit his peak in 2002: his third album, “The Eminem Show,” sold more than 7 million copies, and “8 Mile” made more than $100 million at the box office while earning him an Oscar for best song.

He told the Detroit Free Press that he had abandoned his frenetic drug use — which he said could have killed him — and was exercising daily.

But narcotics remain a part of Eminem’s image as long as fans remember songs like 2000’s “Drug Ballad”:

“‘Cause every time I go to try to leave/ Somethin’ keeps pullin’ on my sleeve/ I don’t wanna, but I gotta stay/ These drugs really got a hold of me/ ‘Cause every time I try to tell them ‘No’/ They won’t let me ever let them go/ I’m a sucka all I gotta say is/ Drugs really got a hold of me.”