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Eminem wins best rap album Grammy

(CNN) -- Eminem is one for one at the 43rd Grammy Awards.

The controversial rapper won a best rap album Grammy for his 2000 release, "The Marshall Mathers LP." This, after gay- and women's-rights groups protested against him outside the Los Angeles event put on by the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

When Eminem took the stage to receive the award, he was humble in victory.

"What should I say first?" he asked. "I guess first of all I want to thank everybody who looked past the controversy to see the album for what it was and what it isn't."

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    The Grammy Awards honors the best in music each year. A total of 100 categories -- a new high for The Recording Academy -- are being honored Wednesday, though most of those are handed out before the ceremony televised on CBS. Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" is hosting the event.

    The night started off with a performance by Madonna. Sporting a blonde bob and trim black outfit, the pop music legend entered the stage in a glitzed-out limo, climbed out and performed her hit song "Music," which is nominated for record of the year. Behind her, a video collage of her career dating to 1983 flashed on large screens.

    After she left the stage, the first award of the evening went to Macy Gray for best female pop vocal performance for her song "I Try."

    "I'm really flattered by all of you who voted for me," Gray said.

    Other awards have gone to Steely Dan for best pop vocal album, Destiny's Child for best R&B duo or group with vocal and U2's "Beautiful Day," which they had just performed, for best rock duo or group with vocal.

    "We are so excited," said Beyonce Knowles, the lead singer of Destiny's Child. "I can't believe we're winning a Grammy."

    But in the days leading up to the ceremony, and in the opening monologue by Stewart, Eminem was the topic of discussion.

    "There's tremendous amount of controversy here tonight," Stewart said. "I think we have to deal with it. I met Eminem backstage and he's really gay. About the gayest guy you'd ever meet."

    Eminem, is performing on the show with Elton John, is nominated for a total of four Grammys, including album of the year for "The Marshall Mathers LP."

    If he wins, it will add to his Grammy collection. He won two last year.

    Artists weighed in on the rapper, and his hard-core rants that bash gays and women, before the event.

    "Just by his being here, Eminem has already contradicted himself," said singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins, referring to an Eminem lyric "You think I give a damn about a Grammy?" The line is uttered by the rapper in "The Real Slim Shady," which is up for a Grammy in the category best rap solo.

    Loggins, nominated this year for best musical album for children, says the fuss surrounding Eminem is nothing new.

    "Rock 'n' roll has always been shocking people," he said. "Sometimes the job of art is to shock people. Eminem is just carrying on a tradition."

    Scott Seomin, spokesperson for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said Eminem should not be tolerated.

    "Why Elton John is performing with him is baffling," Seomin said.

    Gloria Estefan said the hype surrounding Eminem and his performance with John might fail to live up to expectations.

    "They better do something," Estefan said. "Maybe Elton will plant a big one on Eminem and then we'll be in real trouble."

    The pre-show was also the site of a fashion free-for-all. From the conservative black ski hat and sweatshirt worn by Durst to the sporty suits and colorful 'dos worn by boy band 'N Sync, to the royal blue western suit and white stetson donned by Brad Paisley the music world showed its colors.

    Some early winners announced before the ceremony: Sheryl Crow won best female rock vocal performance for "There Goes the Neighborhood." Lenny Kravitz won best male rock vocal performance for "Again." Baha Men won best dance recording for "Who Lets the Dog Out." And Joe Jackson won for best pop instrumental album.

    B.B. King has already won two Grammys -- best pop collaboration with vocals, and best traditional blues album.

    But there are plenty of awards still to hand out, including album of the year. Competing against Eminem in the category: Beck for "Midnite Vultures," Radiohead for "Kid A," Paul Simon for "You're the One," and Steely Dan for "Two Against Nature."

    Dr. Dre stands to win the most Grammys. He's nominated for five, including producer of the year.

    Vying for record of the year are Destiny's Child for "Say My Name," Macy Gray for "I Try," Madonna for "Music," 'N Sync for "Bye Bye Bye," and U2, for "Beautiful Day."

    Best new artist nominees are Shelby Lynne, Brad Paisley, Papa Roach, Jill Scott and Sisqo.



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