If you have even just a passing interest in hip-hop, then you’ll probably know who Hailie Jade Mathers is. And you may even know that she’s not a rapper herself, but rather the daughter of one. Hailie, of course, is Eminem’s little girl – although let’s just say that she’s not so little any more…
Hailie Jade Mathers was born on Christmas Day in 1995 as the only biological child of Marshall Mathers, known to the world as Eminem. Her mother is Kimberly Anne Scott, with whom Eminem has had a long and checkered past.
And the couple’s relationship at that point was becoming increasingly turbulent: mere months after Hailie was born, in fact, Kim left Eminem and went with the baby to live elsewhere. As a result, Eminem was furious but poured his rage into his music. The track “’97 Bonnie and Clyde,” for example, is about Eminem talking to the infant Hailie as he gets rid of the body of her murdered mom.
The song was a work of fiction, of course, but was given some authenticity through Hailie’s real-life voice appearing on the track. And, understandably, Eminem’s on-off girlfriend wasn’t impressed. “When [Kim] found out I used our daughter to write a song about killing her, she f**king blew,” Eminem told Rolling Stone in 1999. “We had just got back together for a couple of weeks.” But that didn’t stop Em from featuring either of the pair in yet another track.
“Kim,” arguably one of the most controversial and violent songs in rap, would go on to appear on Eminem’s 2000 album The Marshall Mathers LP. In it the rapper again talks to Hailie, but this time he murders Kim, her imaginary new husband and – even more disturbingly – an imaginary four-year-old stepson. And while the little girl’s voice didn’t feature on this track, the song gives a hint as to what sort of fractious environment Hailie was growing up in.
That being said, Eminem did genuinely love his daughter. And despite the absolute chaos that was his relationship with Kim, the two of them had actually got married back in 1999. They would also eventually take in Kim’s sister’s child, Alaina.
Unsurprisingly, though, the marriage didn’t last. In 2000 Eminem encountered Kim pecking a male friend on the cheek and saw red, striking the man in the head. As a result, in court the rapper would be handed two years’ probation for the assault and for having a concealed gun with him. And the incident would be a nail in the coffin of Eminem’s relationship with Kim – but not, it must be said, for his relationship with Hailie.
Indeed, despite his seeming promotion of violence towards women in his songs, Eminem’s little girl had an apparently loving and caring dad. And although Kim proclaimed him unfit to parent Hailie during their divorce case, he would still receive joint custody of his daughter.
In 2002, meanwhile, Eminem released “Hailie’s Song,” which featured lyrics like “Now look, I love my daughter more than life in itself/But I got a wife that’s determined to make my life livin’ hell.” It seemed that, as much as he loved Hailie, he still loathed her mother.
And Eminem’s vicious words towards his ex-wife apparently had consequences. In 2007, for example, Kim went on The Dr. Keith Ablow Show and told the TV psychiatrist that fans’ cheers as Eminem beat up a blow-up doll dressed as her at a live show drove her to attempt suicide. How Hailie must have felt about this revelation, though, we simply may never know.
And whether people liked it or not, Eminem continued to place his daughter at the forefront of many of his tracks. “I want her to be able to grow up and look back on this and be like – whether people agree with it or not – ‘My dad put me on a song. My dad wrote songs for me, my dad said my name all over the place,’” he reasoned to MTV in 2002.
But keeping her in the public eye definitely had its downsides. In 2003, for example, hip-hop star and Eminem enemy Ja Rule released a track in which he outright insulted the then seven-year-old Hailie. In it he rapped, “Em, you claim your mother’s a crackhead and Kim is a known slut/So what’s Hailie gonna be when she grows up?” Eminem, of course, was furious.
Clearly, all this was a strange environment for a child to grow up in. And yet, there was never any indication Hailie was anything other than happy. In 2006, meanwhile, and to the surprise of everyone, her parents got married again.
It didn’t last, of course; Eminem and Kim were remarried for roughly three months. And when they divorced for the second time, Eminem again got joint custody of Hailie. But slowly the rap megastar stopped grabbing headlines, and pictures of Hailie became hard to come by.
In 2009, however, a picture surfaced that appeared to be a genuine one of Hailie: it showed a pretty blonde girl, dressed in a cheerleading T-shirt, with her friends at school. Hailie would have been living with her family in Michigan at this point.
After that, though, the now-teenager became ever more elusive. Twitter users claimed to be her every once in a while, but their accounts were subsequently taken down. Then suddenly in 2013 she appeared on the news… as a homecoming queen.
And Hailie’s proud parents were there to see their not-so-little girl receive her honor. Her mother walked her onto the football field in front of the cameras; Eminem, on the other hand, watched from the sidelines, not wanting his fame to overshadow her big day.
But despite the press fanfare that day Hailie, by all accounts, is just a regular kid, as her homecoming king Tyler Knepp would tell the Detroit Free Press at the time. What’s more, former Chippewa Valley Schools board of education president Denise Aquino revealed to the newspaper that Eminem had “done a good job” raising his daughter.
In 2014, then, Hailie graduated high school summa cum laude and was reportedly looking to go into either psychology or entrepreneurship. However, one of the most touching things about her success was that she credited both her parents for helping her achieve it.
Indeed, when Hailie was asked in her school newsletter to name the most influential people in her life, she wrote, “My mother and father are, because they have pushed me to be the person I am and have given me all the support to achieve what I have.” Guess that answers Ja Rule’s question, then.