John Stone English 101 Scott McClanahan, Instructor 8 April 2013 Eminem- “Not Afraid” Eminem is an American rapper, record producer, and actor. He is known as one of the most controversial and best-selling artists of the early 21st century. Eminem was born as Marshall Bruce Mathers III on October 17, 1972 in St. Joseph, MO. Mathers had a turbulent childhood and never knew his father, Marshall Mathers Jr. , who abandoned the family when he was still an infant. As a result, Eminem was raised by his mother, Deborah Mathers and they moved frequently between Missouri and Detroit, Michigan- spending large chunks of time in public housing projects.
I would change schools two, three times a year,” Eminem recalled. “That was probably the roughest part about it all” (A&E Networks). This itinerant lifestyle left a large impact on his personality. Eminem has been scathingly critical of the way his mother raised him. Through his song lyrics, he has publicly accused her of being addicted to prescription drugs as well as subjecting him to emotional and physical abuse.
Despite being a poor student, Eminem always had a deep love for language at one point even studying the dictionary.
Eminem stated “I found that no matter how bad I was at school, like, and no matter how low my grades might have been at some times, I always was good at English … I just felt like I wanna be able to have all of these words at my disposal, in my vocabulary at all times whenever I need to pull ’em out. You know, somewhere, they’ll be stored, like, locked away” (A&E Networks) As a teenage dropout, Eminem found a way to express his passion for language, as well as to release his youthful anger, through the emerging musical genre of hip-hip.
Mathers assumed the stage name M&M- a playful reference to his initials, which he later began writing phonetically as “Eminem. ” This period in Eminem’s life working odd jobs to make ends meet while participating in rap battles and desperately attempting to land a record contract was later dramatized in Eminem’s semi-autobiographical film, 8 Mile. Eminem won the Academy Award for best original song with “Lose Yourself” in 2002. It was also during this period of his life that Eminem began dating Kim Ann Scott, a friend from high school, and in 1995 the couple had a daughter named Hailie Jade Scott.
Inspired by the birth of his daughter to make a living as a rapper, in 1996 Eminem released his first independent rap album, “Infinite”. A year later, however, Eminem released ‘The Slim Shady LP’ Demo, which was discovered by Dr. Dre, the legendary rapper and former producer of rap group N. W. A. Dr. Dre traveled to Detroit to see Eminem compete in a rap battle and was so impressed that he signed Eminem to his Interscope Records label on the spot. In 1999, after two years of workin with Dr. Dre, Eminem released The Slim Shady LP.
The record became an instant success and went on to sell over three million copies. Marshall and Kim Mathers married later that same year. Eminem released his second studio album, “The Marshall Mathers LP”, in May 2000. “The Marshall Mathers LP” sold over 19 million copies worldwide, won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, received a nomination for Album of the Year and is widely considered among the greatest rap albums of all time. Eminem nevertheless remains widely reviled in some quarters for his offensive lyrical content.
In 2001, Eminem reconnected with several of his friends from the Detroit underground rap scene to form the group D12, recording an album called Devil’s Night. A year later, Eminem released a new solo album, The Eminem Show, another popular and critically acclaimed album. His next album, 2004’s Encore, was less successful than his previous efforts partly because of a rising drug problem. For the next several years, Eminem recorded very little music and was largely consumed by personal problems. Eminem and Kim Mathers divorced in 2000 but continued to maintain a tumultuous off-and-on relationship until remarrying in 2006.
Nevertheless, they divorced again several months later and began a protracted, ugly and highly public custody dispute over their daughter Hailie. Meanwhile, Eminem slipped further into alcoholism and addiction to sleeping pills and prescription painkillers. In December 2007, he overdosed and nearly died. “If I would have got to the hospital two hours later, that would have been it,” he said (A&E Networks). http://www. npr. org/templates/story/story. php? storyId=127953120 The first single from Eminem’s seventh studio album “Recovery” was “Not Afraid”. The song debuted on April 29, 2010 on Shade 45.
The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number one for the week ending May 22, 2010, making it the sixteenth song in Billboard’s history to debut at number one and only the second rap single ever to debut at the top spot. “The overall concept is basically just being in a dark place and trying to get to the light,” the rapper said in an interview with Skyrock FM in Paris (KO Video). In the song- described as “uplifting” by manager Paul Rosenberg- Eminem tells of how he has tried to overcome the troubles in his life from the past few years, mainly his drug addiction and rehabilitation.
He also explains how he felt his last album, Relapse, was not up to his standards or that of his fans. He promises he will never leave us again and now only has his music to focus on. He had a terrible battle with drugs that almost killed him. His best friend was killed via a gunshot wound to the head; this caused him to slip into a state of depression where he nearly overdosed several times due to abusing drugs such as sleeping pills, pain killers, and nerve pills or “benzos”.
He checked himself into rehab and came clean of drugs so he could attend to the wellbeing of his daughters. The message of ‘Not Afraid’ is basically escaping a depressed and dark drug induced state of mind he had been in for the last four years or so. He talks about how his last album was mediocre and how he will not let his fans down again with a poor effort on his part. He encourages those who have had a similar experience to him, to look to him for help.
Eminem has said that he had to re-learn how to write raps due to the damage the drugs did to his brain. The reason I enjoy this song is not only because I’m a huge Eminem fan, but because I can relate to the message in ‘Not Afraid’- through the trials and tribulations I’ve had with addiction within my own life and through those of my friends and family. In the beginning of the song he talks to his fans about the “ride” he had to take to get where he was; of coarse referring to his addiction and recovery, then also naming the album ‘Recovery’.
He then says “Now some of you, might still be in that place, If you’re trying to get out, just follow me, I’ll get you there” (Mathers, Not Afraid); and that speaks for its self in saying that, if you’re a person still struggling with addiction you can look to his words for help in recovery. For the rest of the first verse of the rap he talks about how even though people are going to expect him to fail and fall on his face with not only his recovery, but with his career as well. He then goes on to basically say he couldn’t quit the rap game if he wanted rapping ”He’s married to the game” (Mathers); but hen adding “His gift is a curse” (Mathers, Not Afraid), talking about the constant attention and criticism he receives from being a famous rapper. Some may take this as complaining but I think it says that if someone as rich and as famous as Eminem can change his life and get over his addiction, then anyone can handle the criticism that comes with recovery. The chorus says of coarse “I’m not afraid” “To take a stand”, Eminem is talking about not being afraid to live life sober.
Then he says “Everybody” “Come take my hand” going back to him telling his fans to look to these lyrics for help. At the beginning of the second verse he talks about the stage in recovery when you tell yourself, enough is enough. When you’re an addict you think you’re the king of the world and you have everything in your control. He raps “Okay quit playing with the scissors and shit, and cut the crap” which means that if you’re an addict saying you’re going to quit, then just quit instead of just saying you’re going to.
Then he raps “You said you was king, you lied through your teeth” (Mathers, Not Afraid), which says that when he was on drugs he told himself he was in control, but it was a lie. He then goes on to rap “for that, Fuck your feelings, instead of getting crowned you’re getting capped” (Mathers), which means he will have to suffer the consequences for his actions while on drugs. For the rest of the verse he apologizes to the fans for his poor work on his previous albums and makes a promise to not go back to those ways.
At the end of the second verse he talks about how even though he is doing good in recovery now and he promises to do his best, as an addict he raps “this fucking black cloud, Still follows, me around” (Mathers, Not Afraid), meaning that every day is a struggle to stay clean. The third and final verse starts with him singing about how he couldn’t live the life he wanted while using drugs anymore. He sings “I’ve had enough, now I’m so fed up, Time to put my life back together right now! (now)” (Mathers, Not Afraid).
After, he starts to rap again about how the decision to get clean was made by him; but he admits he did it in part to his fans and the poor work he had given them during his “ride”. At the end of the song he raps about taking care of his responsibilities as a father and as a performer, and how from now on his is raise his own standards “Cause I’m raising the bar” (Mathers, Not Afraid). Eminem has been my favorite artist since he was signed by Dr. Dre and released the Slim Shady LP. Throughout his career from album to album you could hear a change and tell that he struggled at times.
After the death of his friend and fellow rapper, Proof, his music changed and it was obvious he had lost control and spiraled into a drug fueled addiction. He went a year without an album at all; then he put out a very disappointing album conveniently named “Relapse” album. This was supposed to be the album every Eminem fan had been waiting on but was not even close. A year or so later after getting clean Eminem released “Recovery” and it was a huge success. It was different from everything he had released earlier and it was better in a good way this time. Almost every song is an Eminem classic.
It is along with being one of his highest selling albums and considered some of his best work. It also has a positive message to go with it, and that is something that isn’t often found in rap songs. Works Cited A&E Networks. Biography. 2013. April 2013 <http://www. biography. com/people/eminem-9542093>. KO Video. Eminem. 2006-2011. April 2013 <http://www. kovideo. net/not-afraid-video-eminem-1152539. html>. Mathers, Marshall. lyrics. com. 2010. April 2013 <http://www. lyrics. com/not-afraid-lyrics-eminem. html>. Mathers, Marshall. “Not Afraid. ” Recovery. 2010.
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