Yeah, yeah, a few days behind; I had a busy week. Anyway, point is we’re back with a new one!
So as you might have noticed, I’m not exactly the most knowledgeable person around when it comes to rap, but I’m able to pick out what I like and what I don’t. And through years of sort-of-not-really paying attention to the genre, I’ve noticed that I’m something of a casual Eminem fan. And one thing I’ve noticed is that he’s much better when he tries something serious as opposed to his trying-too-hard class clown persona that took over around 2004. And I’m not the only one that’s noticed this; hell, this might be the reason that Recovery as an album exists.
Which brings us to “Not Afraid”, the album’s lead single and a number 1 hit for Em. The song opens with the chorus/hook that’s fairly typical of the “Getting through hard times” genre of music. Over this, Eminem has a spoken word intro conveying the same message that comes off as being almost…too serious and kind of corny. Not because of what he’s saying, but the delivery comes across as stiffed and awkward, like a nerd trying to rouse a crowd.
Eminem is one of the most celebrated rappers of our day for his impressive flow and rhetoric, and he brings his A-Game to “Not Afraid”. Right from the first line, he sounds royally pissed and remains so through the whole first verse, capping it off with “forget the earth he’s got the urge/To pull his dick from the dirt/and fuck the whole universe”. A line that’s pissed off, weird as hell, and vaguely misogynistic. Eminem is back!
The second verse is a shoutout to the fans to try harder. “Let’s be honest, the last Relapse CD was ‘ehhh”” he says, and just about everyone nods their head in agreement. He also starts looking into his personal life and getting rid of his inner demons, presumably the ones that have made his music take a dive in the past 6 or 7 years. After another round of chorus we come to the bridge, where Eminem does a little sing-y thing that adds some weight to the words.
Then comes the final verse, which is all sorts of awesome. Eminem raps about his decision to get clean and how nothing can really stop him now, but the best part comes in some of the final lines: “To treat this roof like my daughter and raise it/You couldn’t raise a single shingle on it/Cause the way I feel, I’m strong enough to go to the club/Or the corner pub and lift the whole counter up/Cause I’m raising the bar, I shoot for the moon/But I’m too busy gazing at stars, I feel amazing”.
I do have one issue with “Not Afraid” though. The music, which consists solely of some weak synth chords and a hitting-an-empty-soup-can quality snare drum. I guess you could pass it off as “minimalistic”, but it just sounds so bland, tinny, and annoying that I have to force myself to focus purely on Eminem, which is mercifully easy here.