Thursday, June 17, 2010
TBG Beats: Eminem -- "Not Afraid"
I can tell you how long it's been since the last time I gave a damn about an Eminem album.
"Mrs. Bootleg" was still just "Fiancée Bootleg" and my Oakland Raiders were beginning what would become a Super Bowl season.
I vividly remember finding 2002's The Eminem Show on the shelves at Best Buy nearly a week before its official release date. Interscope Records -- in response to rampant leaks and bootlegging(!) -- "unofficially" authorized several retail outlets to start selling the CD as soon as possible.
Eminem was at the apex of his commercial popularity and industry power. Since then, the quality of his work has suffered a precipitous descent inversely proportional to his own sense of self-worth.
Em seemed obsessed with vacuous scatological gags (even more than usual) on 2004's Encore and only made a half-assed attempt to address the "n-word" controversy that dogged him at the time. His clunky, transparent production work birthed beats bad enough to taint everything he touched for the rest of the decade, up to and including last year's Relapse. And, let's be honest: the careers of Obie Trice and D12 -- two acts off his own Shady Records imprint -- were sabotaged out of the gate with Eminem's need to create another Eminem.
Now, with that out of the way, I gotta say...I like this track.
Yes, it's a not-so-deft bit of manipulative marketing ("Hey, it's a NEW Eminem!") and the anthemic hook is practically retro-pandering after the universally-acclaimed "Lose Yourself", but there's a sincerity here that Em's lacked on an entire CD since 2000's The Marshall Mathers Album.
The conflicting resignation with his life and career in the first verse bleeds into an open apology for some past sins -- including his last album -- in the second verse and then it gets all...uplifting by the end.
Eminem's Recovery comes out next Tuesday. I know this is just ONE song, but I'd say we're off to a good start.