Eminem Is Saying Goodbye to Slim Shady: Flash Back to the Madness Around the Early '00s Moment

The rapper recently ran a faux obituary for his alter ego in a newspaper, ahead of his upcoming album release

<p>Ron Wolfson/WireImage</p> Eminem in 2000

Ron Wolfson/WireImage

Eminem in 2000

There will never be another Slim Shady.

Recently, a fake obituary for Eminem's longtime alter ego ran in the Detroit Free Press, declaring him "dead" as the rapper prepares to drop his 12th studio album, The Death of Slim Shady (Coup de Grâce), this summer.

Eminem, now 51, released Slim Shady in 1997, followed by Feb. 23, 1999's The Slim Shady — the latter which really put him on the map, earning him his first two of 15 Grammys to date thanks to the hit single "My Name Is."

At the time, listeners' reactions were across the board. PEOPLE and Teen PEOPLE ran endless stories on the star (real name: Marshall Mathers), ringing up neighbors who called him "great" and spoke of his community involvement while warning his records aren't "for the faint of heart." (He was even named Teen PEOPLE's pick for "Sexiest Rapper" in the summer of 2000.)

Though he was called out for his pointed lyrics targeting the gay community and fellow musicians including Christina Aguilera — not to mention entangled in legal troubles as his popularity grew — The Slim Shady peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard charts and continued to give Eminem's star shine.

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"The kids listening to my music get the joke," the rapper told Rolling Stone in 2000. "They can tell when I'm serious and when I'm not. They can tell the entertainment of it."

The entertainment really happened at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards at New York City's Radio Music Hall when Eminem — fresh off the release of The Marshall Mathers LP — opened the show with a herd of clones bobbing along to his latest single, "The Real Slim Shady."

Frank Micelotta/Getty Eminem rehearsing for the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City
Frank Micelotta/Getty Eminem rehearsing for the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City

"Eminem made great videos that were probably the most popular on TRL and MTV at the time," said former MTV president Van Toffler in an oral history of the moment given to MTV.com in 2015. "The challenge for all of us was, how do we recreate that mayhem in a live performance? How do we recreate the pageantry of an Eminem video?"

Former VMAs executive producer Dave Sirulnick added that the rapper's personality "was so big, so the idea was that we weren't going to be able to do this with five, 10 or even 20 Slim Shadys. This was 100 Slim Shadys strong."

Toffler recalled watching as Eminem "completely flipped out" when he saw the bleached blond actors at rehearsal.

But it was producer Dr. Dre, who helped come up with the idea, who had "the greatest reaction," Sirulnick remembered. "[He was] jokingly saying, 'Oh my God! It's my worst nightmare!' He loved it."

So did Eminem, Sirulnick said. "During the show, he owned every second of that performance," he shared. "He was as good as you will ever see a performer on television."

Related: Devon Sawa Reveals Macaulay Culkin Was Originally Cast in Eminem's 'Stan' Music Video

While the obsession over the Slim Shady character started to wind down as the rapper continued to release new music, the May 2024 obituary for him really marked the end of the era — and has left some fans wondering in the star's Instagram comments if Eminem's upcoming album is his last.

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“Ultimately, the very things that seemed to be the tools he used became calling cards that defined an existence that could only come to a sudden and horrific end," the obituary read in part. "His complex and tortured existence has come to a close, and the legacy he leaves behind is no closer to resolution than the manner in which this character departed this world.”

“May he truly find the peace in an afterlife that he could not find on Earth,” it concluded.

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