Why Does Eminem Call Himself “Slim Shady?”

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Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, often goes by the alias “Slim Shady.”

Eminem’s 2000 hit ‘The Real Slim Shady’ introduced the world to his “Slim Shady” alias, and since then, anyone who is into rap music has been well aware of both Eminem and his alter ego.

So, who is Slim Shady, and why does Eminem use that name?

What Does Slim Shady mean?

old eminem songs

Slim Shady is the alter ego of Eminem, representing the dark side of his personality.

The meaning of the name “Slim Shady” is simple. “Slim” refers to Eminem’s physical build, and “Shady” refers to the character’s hidden, dark, and dishonest personality.

The Slim Shady alter ego appears in many of Eminem’s tunes, so quite a clear picture of this “shady” character can be built up by analysing his lyrics.

The character was first fleshed-out on Eminem’s 1997 record, The Slim Shady EP.

However, Eminem first came up with the name when he was part of the rap collective, D12.

In an interview, fellow D12 rapper Bizarre explained, “Basically the whole thing of D12 is everybody has an alter ego, so try to be the villain, a person completely different from who you are… that’s when he took the name Slim Shady.”

What’s the difference between Eminem and Slim Shady?

Whereas “Slim Shady” represents Eminem’s dark side, the character of “Eminem” reflects the rapper’s real-life, present day persona.

The Slim Shady character often appears in Eminem’s songs like the figurative “devil on the shoulder.”

At best, Slim Shady can be characterised as mischievous, irreverent, and crude. At worst, Slim Shady is misogynistic, violent, sadistic, and deeply disrespectful to just about everyone.

In the same way that Slim Shady is a “character” that is performed by the rapper, “Eminem” and “Marshall Mathers” are also characters within the suite.

One commentator has described Slim Shady as “the raging fantasy id”, Eminem as “the voice of present-tense reality,” and Marshall Mathers as “a drippy kid plagued by insecurities.”

Why does Eminem not use Slim Shady anymore?

Recovery album cover eminem

Eminem does still use the name Slim Shady, but not as frequently as he once did. The reason why Eminem stopped using Slim Shady alias so often is probably related to his sobriety.

In 2007, Eminem came close to dying from a drug overdose. After that, he decided to give up drugs – a theme that he deals with in his 2010 album, Recovery.

It makes sense that Slim Shady – a character who uses drugs recklessly – would not feature so heavily in the songs of a recovering addict who is striving to remain sober.

However, Eminem has not put Slim Shady to bed entirely. His 2013 throwback album The Marshall Mathers LP 2 saw Slim Shady return in several tracks.

Eminem vs Slim Shady

Eminem’s Slim Shady alter ego is a fascinating literary and psychological device, which sees the rapper play out internal psychological battles.

It seems that the Slim Shady character enables Eminem to say things with an element of detachment, because it is not Eminem who is saying it, but Slim Shady.

This has several effects. One is that Slim Shady makes Eminem appear less culpable for his lyrics. By attributing the lyrics to a character that he is playing, Eminem avoids condemnation to some extent.

The other impact is that Slim Shady enables the rapper to freely express himself. Slim Shady does not pretend to be virtuous in any way, shape, or form, which means he is unfettered in what he says.

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