When 8 Mile was released in 2002, fans and observers could be forgiven for thinking it was the beginning of a long Hollywood career for Eminem. Never a particularly outgoing interview, the superstar was surprisingly serviceable on screen. But after the fever pitch that was that calendar year died down--Marshall also dropped his third album, the diamond-selling The Eminem Show, along with the 8 Mile soundtrack--he went into hiding. One half-finished, drug-addled album (Encore) would be the only dispatch until 2009. And there were certainly no more movies. However, during his period away from the spotlight, Em took on a project on behalf of one of rap's true crossover stars, and one of the best-acting musicians ever: Tupac Shakur. Mr. Mathers crafted the soundtrack to the 2003 film Tupac: Resurrection and, the following year, co-executive produced Loyal to the Game with Pac's mother, Afeni Shakur. Now, as Eminem signals his return to the movie world with the Jake Gyllenhaal boxing drama Southpaw, he's shown his gratitude to Ms. Shakur by sending her a drawing and a heartfelt letter. 
"You have no idea how much your son and his music has inspired, not only the 'Hip Hop' world," Eminem writes, "but, speaking for myself, has inspired my whole career." He thanks Afeni for the opportunities she has afforded him by way of access to her son's catalog and legacy and expresses his gratitude for his earlier recordings. Em helms the soundtrack for Southpaw; the singles "Phenomenal" and "Kings Never Die" have already hit airwaves, the latter featuring No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani. He will also be contributing to the Straight Outta Compton soundtrack.

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