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Sent Here To Destroy Us: Eminem’s 'The Marshall Mathers LP' At 20

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Sent Here To Destroy Us: Eminem’s 'The Marshall Mathers LP' At 20

Two decades after its release, the Recording Academy looks back at one of hip-hop's most transgressive—and lyrically brilliant—albums

GRAMMYs/May 28, 2020 - 09:26 pm

Problematic or not, the metaphor often used to describe impressive rappers' rapping is often that of a gun. Rat-tat-tat flows. Rapid-fire flows. Eminem is no exception, with his Uzi-like rhythm and velocity when he sputters bricks of word into the air, carefully tucking in extra syllables where needed, or slanted rhymes or chainsaw sound effects or personifying the vulnerable children of America as "Little Eric" because it slides neatly into "terrace" and "parents" even if none of those things actually rhyme. He's so gifted that they do now, folding his accent into clever lexical origami and layering meanings, too.

"Little Eric" who "jumps off the terrace" can be Eric Clapton’s son who fell out a window to his death, which would match the cruel laughs on the same song, 2000’s "Who Knew," directed for no responsible reason at Christopher Reeve and Sonny Bono. It can also be Eric Harris of Columbine shame, one of the two deranged high school students that kicked off one of America's worst traditions, the school shooting, who was also tied to transgressive musicians like Marilyn Manson and KMFDM, reigniting a national conversation about the effect of offensive song lyrics on children. But that last point shapes Eminem's work in the public eye even more than the astonishing care and invention of his verbal dexterity.

Of the available weapons to compare his groundbreaking, hysterically funny, disturbingly relatable music to, Slim Shady is more like a bomb. He hits his targets and maims plenty of bystanders, too. Injures himself and puts his loved ones in the line of fire. Puts all of America in the line of fire, in fact. Two decades ago, he blew up society as much as music possibly could with The Marshall Mathers LP. He mixed everything up like body parts on the battlefield. Conflated GLAAD protests of homophobia with the religious right's censorship of art. Mocked the irresponsibility of parents and guardians for allowing their kids to listen to him, for allowing him to thrive on his own demographic, for willing this volatile imp into existence with their hypocrisy and social mores simultaneously.

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In fact, it was all there in 1999's brilliant, unprecedented "'97 Bonnie and Clyde," wherein he portrayed a loving, protective father to his toddler daughter Hailey, who is part of the recording, while trying to hide his murdered wife’s body as the ultimate nightmare husband. He holds both roles to be true and plays them to the fullest. On The Marshall Mathers LP, he threw the whole of his recorded being into the song's prequel, "Kim," which is probably the most realistic portrayal of a domestic abuser in the entire history of music, if only because there just aren't many of those before or since. Artists who sing about abuse rarely inhabit the evil role themselves, and those who do tend to be sophomoric or melodramatic.

"Kim" is both of those things, but it's so gripping with cinematic detail, with acting performance and realistic mind-detours ("Hey, remember the time we went to Brian's party and you were, like, so drunk that you threw up all over Archie? That was funny, wasn't it?") in the middle of killing the mother of his child that it's impossible to listen to without being affected. Eminem is more than a great rapper, he’s an Olympian of the form. If you don’t believe performing music to be athleticism, try to imitate his impossible speech pattern on "The Way I Am" while breathing correctly. The entire thing. But he is using his unearthly physical rapping ability and lightning-bolt mind for vocabulary formation to make us feel something, even if it’s something awful. Whether we sympathize with him or not, he is demonstrating how the abused can become abusers themselves, a complicated cycle in perpetuity.

Listening to The Marshall Mathers LP is to associate pleasure with hearing a sick mind think quicker and wittier than yours. It's conceding an hour to an unreliable narrator who rhymes like a browbeating defense lawyer to connect dots that don't quite scan. The simple question of who he is mad at and why isn’t the easiest to answer. There’s the LGBTQ+ contingent he threatens casually for the first minute of "Criminal." There’s his charting peers ‘NSYNC and Britney Spears and "girl and boy groups" who get the litany of more homophobic rage on "Marshall Mathers" and a far more hilarious send-up on the enormous, dizzying first single "The Real Slim Shady" when he reduces TRL and the VMAs to one image of Fred Durst and Carson Daly debating who Christina Aguilera had relations with first. There's the parents of America who get plenty of scorn less horrifying than the fate he saves for his own mother on "Kill You," and then mocks the press for rewarding someone who would do such a thing, and mocks someone who would feign such pearl-clutching moralizing in the process. And he devotes a retrospectively surreal amount of time to his Detroit rivals Insane Clown Posse in a shameless "Ken Kaniff" skit. He also threatens to kill his greatest benefactor Dr. Dre on "Criminal." A bomb doesn’t think about the consequences, it just explodes. He’s arguing for that bomb's right.

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Of course, this is metaphorical—fervently metaphorical. If The Marshall Mathers LP sent any message at all 20 years ago, it was that pop's most gifted wordsmith wanted us to know that his words had no meaning. This will never be true. The compound effect of such uproarious and clever ability combined with such nihilistic motive was both mass admiration and angry, defensive confusion. And of course, he didn’t mean it. The astounding "Stan" was not metaphorical. Just as he burrowed into his own most hateful and frightening thoughts about the girlfriend he wanted to kill on so many occasions, Eminem ingratiated himself into the mind of a desperate fan who could hurt his own family just because of his unyielding passion for the artist he perceived to permit such atrocities. You don't spend 13 combined minutes meditating on these over-the-top freakshows unless you care deeply about them.

By transmuting his rage and anxiety about his fame and his family into art, Eminem could set his ugliest feelings free. And after Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's own killing spree, he had reason to believe that if he didn’t tell his most sycophantic followers how stupid and suggestible they were at every turn that they would hurt somebody. "My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge," begins one of Marshall Mathers' most infamous songs. He spends the entire album with an awareness that words hurt, pleading for that to not be the case. He does not want the burden of being this superhero with words, the ultimate witty constructions, the most laser-targeted comebacks, when all they do is cause damage.

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So 20 years ago he drove himself insane trying to let it all out—into expertly constructed pop songs, mind you—to empty his mind of all this poison his immeasurable talent makes so easy and so quick. Thankfully for the world he’s so contemptuous of, it didn't work. He just kept filling up and needing to drain it all back out again. But on The Marshall Mathers LP, the bomb hit its target. "There’s a little Slim Shady in all of us," he mumbles at the end of "The Real Slim Shady." It's true. It's just that the world—then and now—is overrun by destructive people with far less control over the Slim Shady in them than the man who noted this. And most of them don’t make art, much less great art. Only one of them made The Marshall Mathers LP, so titled lest you forget which.

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4 Reasons Why Eminem's 'The Slim Shady LP' Is One Of The Most Influential Rap Records
Eminem

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4 Reasons Why Eminem's 'The Slim Shady LP' Is One Of The Most Influential Rap Records

Eminem’s major label debut, 'The Slim Shady LP,' turns 25 on Feb. 23. The album left an indelible imprint on hip-hop, and introduced the man who would go on to be the biggest-selling artist of any genre in the ensuing decade.

GRAMMYs/Feb 23, 2024 - 03:44 pm

A quarter century has passed since the mainstream music world was first introduced to a bottle-blonde enfant terrible virtuoso who grabbed everyone’s attention and wouldn’t let go

But enough about Christina Aguilera.

Just kidding. Another artist also exploded into stardom in 1999 — one who would become a big enough pop star, despite not singing a note, that he would soon be feuding with Xtina. Eminem’s biting major label debut The Slim Shady LP turns 25 on Feb. 23. While it was Eminem's second release, the album was the first taste most rap fans got of the man who would go on to be the biggest-selling artist in any genre during the ensuing decade. It also left an indelible imprint on hip-hop.

The Slim Shady LP is a record of a rapper who was white (still a comparative novelty back in 1999), working class and thus seemingly from a different universe than many mainstream rappers in the "shiny suit era." And where many of those contemporaries were braggadocious, Eminem was the loser in his rhymes more often than he was the winner. In fact, he talked so much about his real-life childhood bully on the album that the bully ended up suing him.  

It was also a record that played with truth and identity in ways that would become much more difficult once Em became world famous. Did he mean the outrageous things he was saying? Where were the knowing winks, and where were they absent? The guessing games that the album forced listeners to play were thrilling — and made all the more intense by his use of three personas (Marshall Mathers the person; Eminem the battle rapper; and Slim Shady the unhinged alter ego) that bled into each other.

And, of course, there was the rhyming. Eminem created a dizzying array of complicated compound rhymes and assonances, even finding time to rhyme "orange" — twice. (If you’re playing at home, he paired "foreign tools" with "orange juice" and "ignoring skill" with "orange bill.")

While the above are reason enough to revisit this classic album, pinpointing The Slim Shady LP's influence is a more complicated task. Other records from that year — releases from Jay-Z, Nas, Lil Wayne, Ludacris, and even the Ruff Ryders compilation Ryde or Die Vol. 1 — have a more direct throughline to the state of mainstream rap music today. So much of SSLP, on the other hand, is tied into Eminem’s particular personality and position. This makes Slim Shady inimitable; there aren’t many mainstream rappers complaining about their precarious minimum wage job, as Em does on "If I Had." (By the time of his next LP, Em had gone triple-platinum and couldn’t complain about that again himself.)

But there are aspects of SSLP that went on to have a major impact. Here are a few of the most important ones.

It Made Space For Different Narratives In Hip-Hop

Before Kanye rapped about working at The Gap, Eminem rapped about working at a burger joint. The Slim Shady LP opened up space for different narratives in mainstream rap music. 

The Slim Shady LP didn't feature typical rags-to-riches stories, tales of living the high life or stories from the street. Instead, there were bizarre trailer-park narratives (in fact, Eminem was living in a trailer months after the record was released), admissions of suicidal ideation ("That’s why I write songs where I die at the end," he explained on "Cum on Everybody"), memories of a neglectful mother, and even a disturbing story-song about dumping the corpse of his baby’s mother, rapped to his actual child (who cameos on the song). 

Marshall Mathers’ life experience was specific, of course, but every rapper has a story of their own. The fact that this one found such a wide audience demonstrated that audiences would accept tales with unique perspectives. Soon enough, popular rappers would be everything from middle-class college dropouts to theater kids and teen drama TV stars.

The Album Explored The Double-Edged Sword Of The White Rapper

Even as late in the game as 1999, being a white rapper was still a comparative novelty. There’s a reason that Em felt compelled to diss pretty much every white rapper he could think of on "Just Don’t Give a F—," and threatened to rip out Vanilla Ice’s dreadlocks on "Role Model": he didn’t want to be thought of like those guys. 

"People don't have a problem with white rappers now because Eminem ended up being the greatest artist," Kanye West said in 2015. You can take the "greatest artist" designation however you like, but it’s very true that Eminem’s success meant a categorical change in the status of white rappers in the mainstream.

This turned out to be a mixed blessing. While the genre has not, as some feared, turned into a mostly-white phenomenon, America’s racial disparities are often played out in the way white rappers are treated. Sales aside, they have more room to maneuver artistically — playing with different genres while insulting rap a la Post Malone,  or even changing styles completely like Machine Gun Kelly — to commercial approbation. Black artists who attempt similar moves are frequently met with skepticism or disinterest (see André 3000’s New Blue Sun rollout, which was largely spent explaining why the album features no rapping). 

Sales are worth speaking about, too. As Eminem has repeatedly said in song, no small amount of his popularity comes from his race — from the fact that white audiences could finally buy music from a rapper who looked like them. This was, as he has also bemusedly noted, the exact opposite of how his whiteness worked for him before his fame, when it was a barrier to being taken seriously as a rapper. 

For better, worse, or somewhere in between, the sheer volume of white rappers who are currently in the mainstream is largely traceable to the world-beating success of The Slim Shady LP.

It Was Headed Towards An Odd Future

SSLP laid groundwork for the next generation of unconventional rappers, including Tyler, the Creator.

Tyler is a huge Eminem fan. He’s said that listening to Em’s SSLP follow-up The Marshall Mathers LP was "how I learned to rap." And he’s noted that Em’s Relapse was "one of the greatest albums to me." 

"I just wanted to rap like Eminem on my first two albums," he once told GQ. More than flow, the idea of shocking people, being alternately angry and vulnerable, and playing with audience reaction is reflected heavily on Tyler’s first two albums, Goblin and Wolf. That is the template The Slim Shady LP set up. While Tyler may have graduated out of that world and moved on to more mature things, it was following Em’s template that first gained him wide notice. 

Eminem Brought Heat To Cold Detroit

The only guest artist to spit a verse on The Slim Shady LP is Royce da 5’9". This set the template for the next few years of Eminem’s career: Detroit, and especially his pre-fame crew from that city, would be his focus. There was his duo with Royce, Bad Meets Evil, whose pre-SSLP single of "Nuttin’ to Do"/"Scary Movies" would get renewed attention once those same two rappers had a duet, smartly titled "Bad Meets Evil," appear on a triple-platinum album. And of course there was the group D12, five Detroit rappers including his best friend Proof, with whom Eminem would release a whole album at the height of his fame.

This was not the only mainstream rap attention Detroit received in the late 1990s. For one thing, legendary producer James "J Dilla" Yancey, was a native of the city. But Eminem’s explosion helped make way for rappers in the city, even ones he didn’t know personally, to get attention. 

The after-effects of the Eminem tsunami can still be seen. Just look at the rise of so-called "scam rap" over the past few years. Or the success of artists like Babyface Ray, Kash Doll, 42 Dugg, and Veeze. They may owe little to Em artistically, but they admit that he’s done great things for the city — even if they may wish he was a little less reclusive these days

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10 Halloween Songs That Have Won GRAMMYs: "Thriller," "Ghostbusters" & More
Ray Parker Jr performs "Ghostbusters" for Freeform's "31 Nights of Halloween Fan Fest" in 2019.

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10 Halloween Songs That Have Won GRAMMYs: "Thriller," "Ghostbusters" & More

With Halloween celebrations in full swing this Oct. 31, revisit 10 eerie or ghoulishly titled songs that have all been awarded music's top honor, from the 'Exorcist' theme to Eminem and Rihanna's "The Monster."

GRAMMYs/Oct 31, 2023 - 12:56 pm

If the holiday of trick or treating, pumpkin carving, and decorating your front porch with skeletons is your favorite of the year, then you'll no doubt already have a playlist stacked with creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky bangers ready to fire up on Oct. 31. But if you want to add a bit of prestige to your supernatural soundtrack, there's another list of Halloween-friendly songs to check out — one that highlights another celebrated annual occasion.

While the GRAMMYs might not yet have awarded Rob Zombie, Jukebox the Ghost, or And You Will Know Us by the Trail of the Dead, it has embraced the odd musical spooktacular in several forms. In 1988, for example, it gave Halloween obsessive Frank Zappa Best Rock Instrumental Performance for Jazz from Hell. A year later, it handed Robert Cray Band Best Contemporary Blues Recording for Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. And it's also dished out goodies (of the statuette, rather than the sweet, variety) to the likes of Mavis Staples' "See That My Grave Is Clean," Chick Corea's "Three Ghouls," and Mastodon's "A Sultan's Curse."

With Halloween 2023 fast approaching, here's a closer look at ten other tracks which left the music industry's biggest awards show completely bewitched.

Stevie Wonder — "Superstition" (1974)

It seems unlikely that Stevie Wonder walked under a ladder, crossed a black cat, or 'broke the lookin' glass' while recording "Superstition" — the squelchy Moog-funk classic kickstarted his remarkable run of 25 GRAMMY Awards when it won both Best Rhythm and Blues Song and Best R&B Vocal Performance Male in 1974. Taken from what many consider to be his magnum opus, Talking Book, "Superstition" also gave Wonder his first No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 in over a decade. And the soul legend further leaned into its supernatural theme in 2013 when he appeared as a witch doctor in a Bud Light Super Bowl commercial soundtracked by the Tamla favorite.

Mike Oldfield — "Tubular Bells" (1975)

Incredibly, considering how perfectly it complements all-time classic horror The Exorcist, Mike Oldfield's prog-rock epic Tubular Bells was recorded long before director William Friedkin came calling. Mike Oldfield, then aged only 19, used a variety of obscure instruments across its two mammoth pieces. Yet, it's the brilliantly creepy Steinway piano riffs which open Side One that are still most likely to bring anyone who experienced the movie's hysteria in a cold sweat. Oldfield was rewarded for helping to scar a generation of cinemagoers for life when a condensed version of his eerie masterpiece picked up the Best Instrumental Composition GRAMMY.

The Charlie Daniels Band — "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" (1980)

The Charlie Daniels Band certainly proved their storytelling credentials in 1979 when they put their own Southern country-fied spin on the old "deal with the devil" fable. Backed by some fast and furious fiddles, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" tells the tale of a young musician named Johnny who bumps into Beelzebub himself during a jam session in the Peach State. Experiencing a downturn in soul-stealing, the latter then bets he can win a fiddle-off, offering an instrument in gold form against Johnny's spiritual essence. Luckily, the less demonic party proves he's the "best that's ever been" in a compelling tale GRAMMY voters declared worthy of a prize, Best Country Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group.

Michael Jackson — "Thriller" (1984)

The 1984 GRAMMYs undeniably belonged to Michael Jackson. The King of Pop picked up a whopping 11 nominations for his first blockbuster album, Thriller, and then converted seven of them into wins (he also took home Best Recording for Children for his narration on audiobook E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial). Remarkably, the title track's iconic John Landis-directed video didn't feature at all: its making of, however, did win Best Music Film the following year. But the song itself did pip fellow superstars Prince, Billy Joel, and Lionel Richie to the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance crown. Jackson would also win a GRAMMY 12 years later for another Halloween-esque anthem, his Janet Jackson duet "Scream."

Duran Duran — "Hungry Like the Wolf" (1984)

Produced by Colin Thurston, the man behind another early '80s Halloween-friendly classic, (Bow Wow Wow's "I Want Candy"), "Hungry Like the Wolf" cemented Duran Duran's status as MTV icons. Alongside their much raunchier earlier clip for "Girls on Film," its jungle-themed promo was also responsible for giving the Second British Invasion pin-ups the inaugural GRAMMY Award for Best Music Video, Short Form; it featured on the Duran Duran compilation that was crowned Best Video Album, too. Frontman Simon Le Bon had been inspired to write their U.S. breakthrough hit by Little Red Riding Hood, giving the new wave classic its sinister, and appropriately predatory, edge.

Ray Parker Jr. — "Ghostbusters" (1985)

Ray Parker Jr. not only topped the Hot 100 for four weeks with his ode to New York's finest parapsychologists, he also picked up a GRAMMY. Just don't expect to hear "who you gonna call?" in the winning version: For it was in the Best Pop Instrumental Performance where "Ghostbusters" reigned supreme. The fact that Parker Jr. wrote, performed, and produced the entire thing meant he still took home the trophy. However, Huey Lewis no doubt felt he should have been the one making the acceptance speech. The blue-eyed soulman settled out of court after claiming the spooky movie theme had borrowed its bassline from "I Want a New Drug," a track Ghostbusters' director Ivan Reitman admitted had been played in film footage intended to inspire Parker Jr.

Ralph Stanley — "O Death" (2002)

Traditional Appalachian folk song "O Death" had previously been recorded by the likes of gospel vocalist Bessie Jones, folklorist Mike Seeger, and Californian rockers Camper Van Beethoven, just to name a few. Yet it was Ralph Stanley's 2002 version where GRAMMY voters first acknowledged its eerie a cappella charms. Invited to record the morbid number for the Coen brothers' period satire O Brother, Where Art Thou, the bluegrass veteran won Best Male Country Vocal Performance at the 2002 ceremony, also picking up a second GRAMMY alongside the likes of Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, and Emmylou Harris when the soundtrack was crowned Album Of The Year.

Skrillex — "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" (2012)

David Bowie fans may well feel aggrieved that his post-punk classic "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)" was entirely ignored by GRAMMY voters, while the bro-step banger it inspired was showered with awards. The title track from EP Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites added Best Dance Recording to Skrillex's 2012 haul: the asymmetrically haired producer also walked away with Best Dance/Electronica Album and Best Remixed Recording: Non-Classical for his work on Benny Benassi's "Cinema." Packed with speaker-blasting beats, distorted basslines, and aggressive synths, Skrillex's wall of noise is enough to scare anyone off their pumpkin pie.

Eminem and Rihanna — "The Monster" (2015)

Who says lightning can't strike twice? Just four years after picking up five GRAMMY nominations for their transatlantic chart-topper "Love the Way You Lie," unlikely dream team Eminem and Rihanna once again joined forces for another hip-pop masterclass. Unlike their previous collab, however, "The Monster" didn't go home empty-handed, winning Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 2015 ceremony. The boogeyman hiding under the bed here, of course, isn't a Frankenstein-esque creation, but the mix of paranoia, self-doubt, and OCD that leads the Real Slim Shady into thinking he needs a straitjacket.

Jason Isbell — "If We Were Vampires" (2018)

While the Twilight franchise may have failed to add a GRAMMY to its trophy cabinet, it did pick up several nominations. But four years after the Team Edward vs Team Jacob saga wrapped up, folk hero Jason Isbell proved mythical bloodsuckers weren't a barrier to awards success. Emerging victorious in only the fifth ever Best Americana Roots Song category, "If We Were Vampires" is a little less emo than the various Twilight soundtracks. Still, as a love song dedicated to wife Amanda Shires, and the quiet acceptance that the Grim Reaper will inevitably end their story, it's certainly no less emotional.  

GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Eminem Show Love To Detroit And Rihanna During His Best Rap Album Win In 2011

GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Kendrick Lamar

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Eminem Show Love To Detroit And Rihanna During His Best Rap Album Win In 2011
Eminem at the 2011 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Michael Caulfield/WireImage

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GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Eminem Show Love To Detroit And Rihanna During His Best Rap Album Win In 2011

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, relive the moment Eminem took home a Best Rap Album gramophone for his iconic album, 'Recovery.'

GRAMMYs/Aug 18, 2023 - 05:00 pm

Despite being at the top of the rap game, Eminem's personal life has been far from steady. In 2009, the Detroit native exposed his struggle with addiction (and an eventual stint in rehab) on his LP, Relapse. One year later, he dropped one of the most iconic albums of his career, Recovery, which is lauded for its vulnerability and accountability — and became a prime influence to the current generation of introspective rappers, including hit-makers like Machine Gun Kelly and NF.

In honor of hip-hop's 50th anniversary, revisit the evening Eminem won Best Rap Album for Recovery at the 2011 GRAMMYs. It marked his second win in a row in the category, as Relapse had won the year prior.

"Okay, this is crazy," Eminem said as he took the stage. After thanking all of those involved with the album, he gave a special shout-out to his "Love The Way You Lie" collaborator. "I want to thank Rihanna, too, for helping propel the album to where it's at right now."

Eminem went on to thank Interscope Records, Dr. Dre, his Aftermath Entertainment family, and his fans. Last but not least, Eminem had to give a shout out to his hometown: "What up, Detroit! Stand up!" he cheered.

To date, Eminem has won 15 GRAMMYs, six of which were for Best Rap Album. And though he and Rihanna didn't win any GRAMMYs together for their first collaboration

Press play on the video above to watch Eminem's complete acceptance speech for Best Rap Album at the 2011 GRAMMYs, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

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