Eminem to retire his rap persona at end of tour, say associates

Whether Mathers will be retiring for ever or merely retiring the aggressive Eminem persona is unclear. And the rumours from Detroit may be nothing more than the usual hype and publicity-seeking spin. But according to the rapper Proof, who is Eminem's stage partner, "Em has definitely gotten to the level where he feels like he's accomplished everything he can accomplish in rap. He wants to kick back and get into the producing thing. Why not bow out while you're on top?"

Jeff Bass, the Detroit producer who won an Academy Award for co-writing Eminem's "Lose Yourself", said that while he would not rule out the possibility of further solo albums from Mathers, "the Eminem part of his career isn't going to be at the forefront anymore".

Eminem, 33, whose 2000 album The Marshall Mathers LP sold 9.8 million copies, apparently feels burnt out by his success. He has madeeight albums and is the best-selling rapper of all time. His film 8 Mile, also shot in Detroit amid a real sense of social deprivation, won the Oscar for best song, and in it his character, Rabbit, succeeds to make it as a rapper in a black man's world.

Associates, including business partners and fellow rappers, said Eminem is ready to take a similar path to his mentor, Dr Dre, who since reaching his thirties has eased away from the microphone for a career as a producer.