By the 21st century, hip-hop clearly wasn't going anywhere - but there were still barriers to break down all over the entertainment industry. On March 23, 2003, one such domino fell when Eminem's "Lose Yourself" became the first rap song to win an Academy Award.
The signature song from 8 Mile, Eminem's acting debut as a blue-collar white rapper in Detroit, "Lose Yourself" was written and recorded during the film's production; Em's original lyric sheet even appears in the film. The rapper later told Genius he was proud of the spontaneity of the final track, built around a beat he had been trying to write a good enough rhyme to match. "I don’t think it was one take all the way down, but it was one take each verse," he said. “'Got the first verse, okay, punch me in at the second. OK, the whole third verse.'” For some reason, I just captured something there that I didn’t want to change."
"Lose Yourself" was instantly a monster hit, spending 11 weeks at No. 1 in America, but Em faced stiff competition at the Oscars from songs by U2 and Paul Simon. Nonetheless, it was his name called at the telecast that night. While co-writer Luis Resto accepted in his absence, the rapper made a surprise appearance on Oscar night in 2020, performing the song as part of a tribute to great music in film.