The Story of Pop: 2002 (Chapter 49)

It’s time once again to set the wayback machine to the UK charts as they looked two whole decades ago, with The Story of Pop: 2002. This week: a huge chart topper from the soundtrack of a superstar rapper’s movie debut…

  • Artist: Eminem
  • Song: Lose Yourself
  • Released: 02/12/2002
  • Writers / Producers: Marshall Mathers / Jeff Bass / Luis Resto
  • Highest UK Chart Position: #1
  • Weeks on Chart: 52

When we last saw Eminem on this series, he’d returned in triumphant style when “Without Me” gave him his third UK number one in May, quickly followed by his third album, The Eminem Show, also rising to the top of the album chart, where it stayed for five weeks – the longest run for any number one album in 2002.

The second single, “Cleanin’ Out My Closet”, an angry and cathartic reflection on his childhood and upbringing by his mum Debbie, followed it into the chart in September, and hit the top 5, peaking at #4. Of course, by the time it was charting, news was emerging and excitement was building ahead of the superstar rapper’s next big move: the movies.

His film debut had long been simmering away in production as far back as 2000, but it was in September of the previous year that filming began on 8 Mile, in which Eminem was playing Jimmy Smith Jr, aka B-Rabbit, a struggling white rapper attempting to break into a career in hip hop music, alongside a cast including Brittany Murphy and Kim Basinger.

Now, as we touched upon earlier this series, superstar musicians crossing over from one medium of entertainment to another was often fraught with danger, but not so in Eminem’s case, even with 8 Mile having a semi-autobiographical slant to it. In fact, it was only to solidify his popularity even further, both critically and commercially. And not just in the film, but also on its soundtrack, which he naturally contributed four songs to, one of which was about to give him another massive hit.

The main theme song from the film, “Lose Yourself” works on numerous levels; it establishes his character in the film and his story of struggle and chancing his arm against numerous detractors, but also works as an example of just how good Eminem could be at the peak of his lyrical powers and flow: “You better lose yourself, in the music, the moment, you own it / You better never let it go / You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow / It’s opportunity punks, once in a lifetime”.

In many ways, it matched if not bettered “Stan” from his last album; it captured the imagination in much the same way that success was once again all but inevitable. And upon release in early December, “Lose Yourself” broke the first of many records in its wake, when Eminem made history by becoming the first ever rap artist to score as many as four UK number one hits.

And because it wasn’t available on The Eminem Show, it meant that, the 8 Mile soundtrack aside, the single really was the only place to immediately get it, which perhaps explains why the single stayed inside the UK top 10 until well into March 2003, finally leaving the top tier as his next single, “Sing For The Moment” entered the chart.

But it was also award winning in two unique ways; with this, Eminem became the only rap artist to win both an Academy Award for Best Original Song (it was the first hip hop song to receive the award) and a Grammy for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Solo Performance.

In the subsequent digital download and streaming era, it became one of the first songs to be downloaded more than 10 million times, and was certified Diamond in the United States, whilst it’s return visits lower down the top 100 over the last 10 – 15 years means it’s now one of the most charted songs in UK chart history – and with sales and streams combined it has done 2.4 million in this country alone.

But what “Lose Yourself” did best of all was the trick of crossing Eminem over to his widest audience to date, and offered conclusive proof that, behind the shock and controversy that followed him around in the early part of his career, he was – and still remains – a vanguard and pioneer where hip hop music is concerned.

Don’t forget to follow our brand new playlist on Spotify – updated weekly so you never miss a song from the story of pop in 2002. And you can leave your memories of the songs below in the comments, Tweet us or message us on Instagram, using the hashtag #StoryofPop2002.

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