Eminem headed to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; see Class of 2022 inductees
Eminem leads a 2022 Rock Hall class that includes Duran Duran, Dolly Parton, Pat Benatar, Eurythmics, Lionel Richie and Carly Simon.
He’s already a Grammy winner, an Oscar winner and one of the best-selling recording artists of all-time, but Eminem now has another notch to add to his belt: the Detroit rapper is headed to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The megastar, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, leads the list of 2022 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, alongside a group that includes:
- Duran Duran
- Dolly Parton
- Pat Benatar
- Lionel Richie
- Carly Simon
The class will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a ceremony set to take place in Los Angeles on Nov. 5.
"It's a happy moment," says Denaun Porter, Eminem's longtime producer, on-stage right-hand man and friend for almost 30 years, who first met Eminem when he came to his house on Rowe Street, off Eight Mile, looking for an instrumental track in 1995. "It's a win for the home team."
Em made it on his first try, eligible 25 years after the release of his debut album “Infinite.” (His major label debut, “The Slim Shady LP,” didn’t arrive until 1999.) The 49-year-old is this year's only inductee to make the cut on his first year of eligibility.
Among those missing the call for the Hall, yet again, is Detroit rock group MC5, who have been on the ballot six times, tied for second place among Rock Hall nominees with Chuck Willis and behind Chic, who’ve missed the cut 10 times.
Inductees are selected by a voting body that includes more than 1,000 artists, historians and members of the music industry. A public vote was also weighed, with Eminem coming in second with more than 682,000 votes, behind Duran Duran, which logged 929,000 votes.
Eminem's induction shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. It was a no-brainer, a slam dunk, from the moment it was announced the "Rap God" made the ballot back in February.
He coasts in as not only one of the most celebrated rap artists to ever pick up a microphone, known for his complex rhyme schemes, dexterous wordplay and hilarious, cutting and often controversial subject matter, but also one of the most decorated.
Let’s rattle off some of Em’s accolades and accomplishments and get those out of the way: He’s a 15-time Grammy winner, he’s had 10 No. 1 albums (11 if you count the soundtrack to his 2002 semi-biopic “8 Mile,” which you should), he’s had five No. 1 singles and his 2005 compilation “Curtain Call: The Hits” has spent more than 11 years on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart. (It's No. 53 this week.)
He has sold more than 61.5 million albums and 166 million singles, according to the Recording Institute Association of America, making him among the Top 20 best-selling artists in music history. He was the top-selling artist of the 2000s and the third best seller of the 2010s, and he’s currently the world's 15th most popular artist on Spotify, with nearly 52 million monthly listeners.
He performed at this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show, alongside Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent, and he stole the lion’s share of the headlines afterward by kneeling during his performance in support of Colin Kaepernick and against police brutality and racial injustice in America.
Among Detroiters and Michigan artists, he joins a list of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members that includes Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Jackie Wilson, the Supremes, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Hank Ballard, the Four Tops, John Lee Hooker, Martha and the Vandellas, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Little Willie John, Parliament-Funkadelic, Bob Seger, Madonna, the Stooges, Alice Cooper and the Miracles. Berry Gordy Jr. and Holland-Dozier-Holland are in as non-performers, and Motown bassist James Jamerson was inducted in the “Sidemen” category, which was later changed to the Award for Musical Excellence.
Among rappers, he’s part of an elite group that includes just nine other inductees: Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, N.W.A., Tupac Shakur, the Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and LL Cool J. Eminem was on hand to induct Run-DMC in 2009, and he performed live with LL Cool J during last year’s induction ceremony.
Still, his nomination for this year's class was a point of contention with some hip-hop fans, which points to a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame problem more than it does an Eminem problem.
It’s not because Em doesn’t deserve his entry or he doesn’t have the stature to back it up, but rather because he’s getting in ahead of so many other important, pioneering hip-hop figures who have not yet gotten an invitation, including Eric B. and Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, Wu-Tang Clan and Nas, let alone his fellow Super Bowl Halftime performers Dr. Dre (who is in as a member of N.W.A. but not as a solo act) and Snoop Dogg. A Tribe Called Quest was one of this year's nominees but did not make the cut.
"Eminem is so humble, I would think he would rather see some of these guys go in, too," says Jay Hudson, the program director at SiriusXM's classic hip-hop station Rock the Bells. "He's such a hip-hop head and he loves the culture so much, I'm sure he wants to see Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap and Eric B. and Rakim go in. But it's always going to be like that, you can only have so many people go in each year. It actually makes it fun for conversation purposes."
Regarding Em's own impact, "it's unlike anything I've ever witnessed in my life before," says Hudson, a native Metro Detroiter who has watched Em's rise both professionally and as a fan. "With his level of skill and the numbers he has, the proof is in the pudding with Eminem. Not many hip-hop artists or artists in general have that kind of caliber of skill on top of the numbers to back it up."
Eminem’s origin story is already something of hip-hop legend. Born in Missouri and raised in Michigan, a rocky childhood and a love of rap music led to him picking up the mic at Detroit's famed Hip-Hop Shop, where he stood out as one of the most feared battlers, as well as the only White face in an predominantly Black crowd.
A fateful trip to L.A. in 1997 scored him a deal with Interscope Records, and Eminem exploded onto the national consciousness in early 1999 with his debut single “My Name Is,” which was an immediate smash on MTV.
Over a lopsided instrumental from his mentor, rap legend Dr. Dre, Eminem introduced himself with the opening salvo, “hi kids, do you like violence?” Almost instantly the dyed-blonde MC with the nasal voice became a favorite of youngsters and a nightmare for parents — including his own mother, who was the frequent target of his verbal assaults.
From there, it has been a long string of success, controversy, acclaim, protests, awards, beefs, lawsuits, court appearances, drama, drugs, overexposure, fatigue, bottoming out and resurrection, with his music being the sounding post for all of it.
He opened doors for his Detroit pals with his group D12, coined the term "Stan" for music obsessives with his haunting 2000 narrative about fandom gone toxic and ushered 50 Cent to superstardom by signing him to his label, Shady Records. And for the last decade-plus he has managed to mostly stay out of the public eye, living in Metro Detroit and leading as low-profile an existence as one can while maintaining status as a global superstar.
These days he makes sporadic but impactful appearances, headlining festivals and retaining his relevancy by only making moves when he needs to. When he does something, it means something.
In 2021, he made headlines by opening a quick-serve spaghetti restaurant in downtown Detroit called Mom’s Spaghetti, named after a line in his Oscar-winning "8 Mile" theme “Lose Yourself.” He appeared at the restaurant’s opening, thrilling fans who waited in line to be among the first customers, but he disappeared just as quickly, before news of his presence went public. It's emblematic of how he operates today: he’s around, but he’s not.
He's also a father; Hailie Jade, his daughter with his ex-wife Kim Scott, was a frequent topic in his music early on, and is now a 26-year-old social media influencer with 2.6 million Instagram followers. He also has two adoptive children, Alaina and Stevie.
Jimmy Iovine, Eminem's label boss at Interscope Records, is also joining the Rock Hall this year, one of three recipients of the Ahmet Ertegun Award, along with Allen Grubman and Sylvia Robinson. Judas Priest and producing duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are heading in as recipients of the Musical Excellence Award, while Harry Belafonte and Elizabeth Cotten will join as winners of the Early Influence Award.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame news came as a subtle shock to Denaun Porter, who has been with Eminem every step of his career: he's a producer on his first album, "Infinite," as well as his most recent album, 2020's "Music to Be Murdered By." He's been Eminem's hype man on stage since the 2006 death of Deshaun "Proof" Holton, their D12 partner, and above all, he's a friend and a brother, Porter says.
They were introduced to each other through IQ, a mutual friend at the Hip-Hop Shop, who sent Em to Porter's house because he knew Porter was a producer. The year was 1995. "I was only doing beats for about three months at that point," says Porter, who is three years Em's junior, "and then when Em came over I was like, 'yeah, I've been making beats for a year or two."
They became instant friends and eventually roommates. The first song they did together was "Backstabber," off "Infinite," and they've been working together ever since.
"To go from 'Backstabber' to being here right now talking about the Hall of Fame, I could cry. It's an amazing feeling," says Porter. "But it's also like wow, it's happening now? He's not done. He's got this fire in him like he just started. It's still early. We still have so much more to do."