IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Eminem's mom gives her side of the story

In her new memoir "My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem," Debbie Nelson says she didn't try to be the "most hated mother in America." She just wanted to protect her son.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Eminem's mom says she didn't try to be the "most hated mother in America." She just wanted to protect her son.

In Debbie Nelson's book, "My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem," she says the now-infamous defamation lawsuit against her son was not her intent. Eminem and his then-wife, Kim, were living in her house as it was about to be repossessed, so she hired a lawyer. The lawyer found out who her son was and filed for defamation.

Nelson says that was bad enough, but then Eminem's label called her and told her, "Keep it going. We're selling records." She says she thought, "This is just too much for me."

Nelson believes her son was facing pressure from his wife and his label, and she says he must have thought saying bad things about his mother would sell. She says she hasn't had much of a relationship with him lately.

Eminem's turnIn his new memoir "The Way I Am," the man born Marshall Bruce Mathers III takes readers into his painful childhood and adolescence and inside the studio and beyond as the former Detroit factory floor sweeper and short-order cook enters the rap game and becomes a worldwide hip-hop sensation.

The book is 200-plus pages worth of text, behind-the-scenes photographs and reproductions of Eminem's original lyric sheets — hotel stationery and other scraps of paper he used to scratch out partial verses of the songs that would make him famous: From "My Name Is" and "Stan" to "Lose Yourself" and "Without Me."

"The Way I Am" answers a few lingering controversies and questions, including his 2000 arrest for pistol-whipping a man who kissed his wife ("Guns are bad, I tell you"); his substance-abuse problem ("I'm glad that I realized it and set myself in the right direction"); the flap over his perceived homophobia ("Ultimately, who you choose to be in a relationship with and what you do in your bedroom is your business"); and ethnicity ("Honestly, I'd love to be remembered as one of the best to ever pick up a mic, but if I'm doing my part to lessen some racial tension I feel good about what I'm doing.")

Eminem also recounts his early years, living in public housing in Savannah, Mo., before moving to Detroit. He discusses the hurt he felt at never having known his father, the complicated relationship with his litigious mother and the suicides that ended the lives of his two uncles.

After he made the move to the Motor City, Eminem describes being a quiet outsider at school, having his home repeatedly robbed, getting pummeled by the police and later bouncing between dead-end jobs trying to make ends meet to provide for his then-wife, Kim, and daughter, Hailie.

But things turned in his favor when Proof urged him to start rap-battling at Detroit's Hip Hop Shop. He made a name for himself in his home city by trading insult rhymes with fellow battlers and eventually branched out, competing in rap battles in Ohio and California. It was in Los Angeles that Eminem was spotted by an assistant in the office of Interscope Records executive Jimmy Iovine.

Before long, rap icon Dr. Dre came in to help produce what would become Eminem's ticket to stardom, 1999's "The Slim Shady LP."

While the pair had worked out the songs, Dre said the album lacked the image of what the Slim Shady character should look like.

A drug-fueled impulse buy took care of that problem.

After two hits of Ecstasy, Eminem popped into a drugstore and on a whim purchased a bottle of peroxide. He threw some on his head and the platinum blonde hair and white T-shirt Slim Shady look was born.

"I wasn't thinking that the peroxide thing was going to be my look," he writes. "I was just being stupid on drugs."

The record ended up being a smash hit, as did two that came later, "The Marshall Mathers LP" and "The Eminem Show."

In all, he has won nine Grammys and an Oscar.

Still, as he prepares to again enter the public eye, a more grounded, mature Eminem says he's trying to keep everything in perspective.

Music is important, but being a father to three girls — Hailie, niece Alaina and another girl, Whitney, who isn't biologically his — is where it's at.

"All three of my girls call me Daddy," he writes. "They're all loved the same and they all get the same treatment.

"Because of my success, I've been able to provide for them in ways my family never could for me. That's what it's all about."