NEW CLASSIC: Eminem – ‘Not Afraid’ (2010)

“I’m not afraid to take a stand
Everybody come take my hand
We’ll walk this road together, through the storm
Whatever weather, cold or warm
Just lettin’ you know that you’re not alone
Holler if you feel like you’ve been down the same road”

Taken from the album Recovery

Fuck yes. Eminem is back – for real this time. I loved Relapse, all of three of the main singles are on this list, but despite being a great album it didn’t feel like Eminem used to feel. Back in the day his music used to make you feel like you could tear the roof off a building, like you could do anything just through the power of his beats and his lyrics – it’s safe to say ‘We Made You’ or ‘Crack A Bottle’ didn’t give anyone that feeling. But on ‘Not Afraid’, his brand new single from the new album Recovery, he returns to the sound that made him the voice of a generation.

There’s that stuttering but minimalist beat, a huge chorus full of force and power, rhymes that are almost as good as the best of his classic years, and – thank God – the accent is gone. There are shades of ‘Like Toy Soldiers’, ‘Sing For The Moment’, ‘Mosh’, ‘When I’m Gone’, even Eminem’s verse on ‘Renegade’ – all of these singles are among the greatest ever released, in my eyes, and ‘Not Afraid’ takes a well-earned, rightful place among them.

Who knows what Recovery will bring, but if it’s anything like The Slim Shady LP or The Marshall Mathers LP, two albums so full of electricity and fire that no rap album since has been able to recreate such beauty in anger, it will be the best of the year. I don’t think I’ve been this excited about an album since, well, Relapse, and ‘Not Afraid’ is a thrilling return to form. The Eminem who soundtracked a good chunk of my teenage years is here with us again – it took five years but it was worth the wait.

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