We were introduced to Eminem through his "Slim Shady" character, which was one of his alter egos along with Eminem and Marshall Mathers (his real name). On this track, Slim goes off in outrageous fashion on his critics, throwing in loads of pop culture/celebrity references along the way (a comedian named Tom Green was famous then). It is meant to be a parody of stereotypical pop songs, although many listeners didn't get the irony.
This was one of the last songs recorded for the album. Eminem was under a lot of pressure from his record company to come up with a hit single to get radio play and lead off the album - something similar to what "My Name Is
" did for his first album. After working on the beat for most of the day, it came together when Eminem's keyboard and bass player were jamming on drum track Dr. Dre had programmed. Once they had the beat, Eminem put lyrics to it based on all the kids who were dressing and acting like he did. The next morning, Eminem came to the studio and recorded the vocals.
Eminem was exhausted by the time they came up with this song. Before they came up with the beat, he was ready to leave the album as it was and use "The Way I Am" as the first single. His record company wasn't about to let that happen.
Kathy Griffin is the voice at the beginning that announces, "Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?" She is in the video. Griffin was on the TV show Suddenly Susan.
The video features a troop of young men with blond hair dressed like Eminem. They represent the nightmare of many suburban parents - legions of fans who want to be just like Eminem.
Eminem performed this at the 2000 MTV Video Music awards, in a very memorable performance. Trailed by a legion of lookalikes, Eminem entered from outside Radio City Music Hall and performed the song on the way in. The guys playing the doppelgängers all had to dye their hair Eminem-blond for the performance.
The lyrics go out of their way to be offensive. Eminem was trying to create some controversy because he knew it was get a lot of publicity and sell more albums. The radio version is edited.
The Wisconsin radio station WZEE was fined $7,000 by the FCC for playing an unedited version of this song. The station claimed a technical malfunction caused the CD player to cue up the wrong track. The FCC also fined Colorado radio station KKMG $7,000 for playing the edited version of this, claiming the song was "patently offensive." The fines were rescinded after the rap industry made the case that banning this is a violation of free speech.
Eminem has gotten lots of mileage out of jabs at celebrities in his songs, and he got plenty of attention here with lyrics implying that Christina Aguilera had oral sex with Carson Daly and Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit lead singer). Aguilera denied this and called Eminem a pig, which didn't seem to bother him. At the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, Aguilera presented the award for Best Male Video, and when Eminem won for "Without Me," she didn't seem happy.
This won a Grammy in 2001 for Best Rap Solo Performance. The album Marshall Mathers LP also won for Best Rap Album.
The judge who sentenced Eminem to a fine and community service for pointing a gun at the road manager of the Insane Clown Posse told him "Now is the time to please stand up," a reference to the line "Will the real Slim Shady please stand up."
Like his first hit, "My Name Is," Eminem stopped performing this in concert a few years after it was released. In later years, he would sometimes do a medley of these songs.
The chorus from this song was included at the end of Weird Al Yankovic's "Angry White Boy Polka" on his album Poodle Hat. (thanks, Steph - SoCal, CA)
Comedian and voice talent Ralph Garman recorded a parody of this entitled "The Real Slim Santa" where St. Nick raps about his substantial weight loss. (thanks, Ekristheh - Halath)