Sobriety is for suckers

I was all psyched for the new Eminem album, Recovery, but then I heard that song “Not Afraid,” and now I could give a rat’s ass. I’ll still DL and have a look, when the opportunity presents itself, but I won’t be furiously consulting the Google until it arrives, as if it was pr0n, the way I did the new National album. Which was so worth it, btw.

It’s not that “Not Afraid” is such a bad song. The rappin’ is about as strong as the rappin’ on anything else Eminem has done the past couple of years, which is to say stronger than a motherfucker. The production isn’t memorable in the least bit (I literally can’t recall how exactly it sounds, and I see the TIs had it pulled from this site’s Bangers section), but it’s not highly obnoxious or anything, which is about as much as you can ask from 2K10-era synthesizer-based rap music.

The part that’s really bothersome to me is the chorus. The line, “I’m not afraid to take a stand. Everybody come take my hand,” sounds like some shit Lenny Kravitz would write, if Lenny Kravitz tried to write the chorus to an inspirational rap song. (I don’t want to give Jay-Z any ideas.) Then there’s the fact that Em opted to sing the chorus himself, rather than bringing in Drake, or anyone who’s voice isn’t as white and whiny-sounding as his own.

But you know how Eminem is about doing things himself. Remember all of those shitty beats he made back in the early to mid ’00s? I wonder if that’s because he’s white. I went to high school with a guy – a cracka-ass cracka – whose father was always tinkering with his cars. Then you’d have to go pick him up from off the side of the road somewhere, when they broke down. There must be something about the white man’s psyche that leads you to want to do shit yourself, regardless of whether or not you’re capable.

Pro tip for black dudes who haven’t spent a significant amount of time around white people: If you go over to a white person’s house, and they offer you some meat they shot and killed themselves, tell them you would, but you just ate.

The fact that it’s cornier than a motherfucker hasn’t stopped “Not Afraid” from being remarkably popular. I read somewhere recently that it debuted at the very top of the pop charts, making it one of only a small handful songs to ever do so – and not just some obscure digital chart that that guy Sam Adams could probably buy his way onto. I’m talking the Billboard Hot 100. It took Jay-Z 46 years and more number one albums than the Beatles and Elvis combined to make it to number one, and Eminem did it with a song that’s not even that good.

But you never can tell what the pop charts mean these days. Maybe the fact that Jay-Z finally reached #1 doesn’t mean he finally came up with a song that was worthy enough, it means the charts have gotten that much easier to game. It’s not like Jay-Z hasn’t been making cynical concessions to the marketplace his entire career. For all we know, his cover of “I Know What Boys Like” by the Waitresses could have topped the pop charts, if it had been released in 2K10 rather than when I was in the 10th grade.

Then there’s the fact that people tend to like things with positive, uplifting messages. That’s why they stay showing Shawshank on the Superstation. (They still show Shawshank on the Superstation, right?) Book stores are filled with books about how to stay positive and get your life together. I was in a Barnes and Noble the other day – scanning the sex books, natch – and I saw where Russell Simmons has got a new one out. I don’t even think it was his first one. I hadn’t so much as heard of it, but you’d have to think he’s making a lot of money from it. Otherwise, why would he bother?

I’m sure Eminem understands this, and that’s why he decided to scrap Relapse 2, i.e. another album about the depravity and hence the hilarity of substance abuse, something I could enjoy, in favor of an album full of uplifting songs about joining hands and walking along the path towards clean living. (What part of the game is that?!) The original Relapse, much more along the lines of a classic Eminem album, didn’t sell nearly as well as he thought it would, so now he’s gonna do something way different, plus he’s gonna bring in a gang of producers to make him songs that sound like songs that are currently popular.

I’m not buying for a minute that this is a reflection of a genuine change in his point of view. He probably wasn’t on drugs back when he recorded Relapse. And I wonder how important drugs really were to his late ’90s – early ’00s-era classic material. So, he took a few drugs in his 20s. Who didn’t? It’s not like I copped the Marshall Mathers LP to find out what it’s like to be high. He could have been sober his entire life, for all I care. This is the Rick Ross era. Whether or not his music is an accurate reflection of his experience is beyond the point. I just think songs about getting fucked up and doing crazy shit sound more interesting than songs about not getting fucked up and not doing crazy shit. Call me crazy.

  • T-marT

    simply put, eminem is no longer “dat dude” not afraid was Soft. the new tracklisting is up on nah right and i dont care. its been 10 years now, since he first came out with a corny ass gimmick single for every album) the gimmicks are wearing extremely paper thin. the shock value is gone… em what the fuck. u had like a solid 3 year run, then passed it to fif for about the same. what direction you taking the game???

  • BEEZIE!

    I agree with you that the song isn’t all that great, but his lyrics are on point as usual… Seeing as how his 1st singles from previous albums usually suck ass, with the pop star references and what not, this is definitely the best lead single he’s ever had… which, again, isn’t saying much. I’m just interested in hearing an album from Em without Dre all over the production creds

  • Brass Tacks

    Then there’s the fact that people tend to like things with positive, uplifting messages. That’s why they stay showing Shawshank on the Superstation. lls goodone

  • og bobby j

    fact is, eminem has not had a solid showing since 8 mile and those g unit features…

    encore was ass, relapse was ass, his features on drake and wayne songs were forced.

    he lost a step, maybe due to the drugs or maybe the game just changed….

    i am hoping the influx of slaughterhouse to shady will revive the ability we know is there…..no homo jic

    • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

      Damn. What’d you think of that “Despicable” freestyle?

    • that nigga

      i am hoping the influx of slaughterhouse to shady will revive the ability we know is there….
      :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
      Well thought!! Me too!

      • og bobby j

        i think it still felt forced for some reason…

        his flow on the track doesnt ride like it did before…

        basically, if i had to describe it, its like he is trying to hard, where before it was effortless….

        dig me.

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  • Anonymous

    50 should share some of that weight loss crack/coke with em and put out some hits.

  • what

    “I’m not buying for a minute that this is a reflection of a genuine change in his point of view.”

    Maybe not in his personal life, but most likely it does reflect some genuine change in his point of view about what exactly he wants to do with his music.

    I mean, negativity can be exhausting sometimes. So can positivity, but even when Eminem has, in the past, had positive intentions in his music (“Mosh”) he relied on negativity for the emotional drive, so to speak.

    Dude is getting old. Getting old always makes you re-evaluate what’s important to you. Zion I wants to rap about thizzing, and Eminem wants to rap about creating a better life for yourself.

    Really, it’s all about balance. Nobody is always positive or negative all the time, and if they are, they’re really fucking annoying/depressing to be around.

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    This is the ugly truth

    Em was never ever really that ill. He got on because of shock value. Em is the typical 90′s rapper just a lil slimmer and in a different shade. Because of those two facts he was able to say some off the wall stuff and get away with it. That shock value helped him identify with a large crowd of wannabees.

    I called this about five years ago. He ran out of subject matter. Ya, u can have that tight candence word play metaphors and etc., but how many times can u kill ur ex….only to marry her again…and mention ur daughter? sure he can battle…what female pop stars and boy bands? Em wouldn’t dare battle or beef with no mc in the game. Imagine him going at cam. Em would be on some punchline this crap. Cam would bring the wolves. Yes em maybe better lyrically but Cam and other rappers coming for his head not just lyrically.

    Nevertheless, em can sing a song about boo booing in his depends and still sell a mili. he can do this over a remix of sesame street. His fans probably won’t find this blog. SMH.

    • The Great Spade

      Cam vs Eminem in a battle and Cam would win? NIGGA ARE YOU SLOW?!?!? Cam would bring the wolves…Nigga what wolves?!?!?! I’m not the biggest Eminem fan but seriously? Come on dude, CAMERON GILES NIGGA?!?!?! You probably think Waka Flacka a damn beast huh man? Kill yourself twice dummy…..

  • Corbin

    you gotta love when some fool ,who’s own job is to write about music in an era when the music industry is going down the toilet openly states that he is going to download the album instead of buying and supporting the very thing that provides him a job. nice work dummy. So when the albums stop dropping or at least not as fast and the new artists don’t get signed what you gonna write about then? oh …right…nothing…cause you will be out of a job. Support Hip-Hop!

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    the wolves cam or any artist that em would battle besides a boy band would bring the wolves. wolves as in exposing em. threating his life. beef. Its not about supporting cam or wacka flocka for that matter but its about objectively giving an opinion. i’m not saying cam is the lyrical king, but cam has picked battles with some top heavy weights in rap. who has em battled since he went mainstream? umm, nysnc brittany spears mirah carey the backstreet boys fred durst…come on, em is all hype. let him battle LL, kool moe d, method man.

    • Cam Jones

      See that is a fundemental problem with hip hop today. Even when people were beefing they kept it about the music. Now a mothafucka can’t even make a joke without someone wanting to kidnap his momma. The beef shit is children keep it on music. I don’t give a damn if Watta Fuckin Lame or Killa Cam got more guns than Em. What I am and pretty much most people buying records miss is can they make a track that makes me want to play it again rather than use it for a weed plate or coaster.

  • What What

    “the wolves cam or any artist that em would battle besides a boy band would bring the wolves. wolves as in exposing em. threating his life. beef.”

    I guess his wolves must have been asleep when he got shot, punched, and chased out of the rucker

    If Cam and Em ever battled it would stay lyrical as neither of them are built for any real beef

  • gaddic

    I agree somewhat with Bol
    But EM is changing and so will his music
    I just hope he doesn’t go the pop-sounding bland inspiration route
    Aggression and anger are what made us attracted to his raps
    Hopefully he channels it properly in Recovery

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    What happened to Cam is where i’m getting the example from. History? historically people wit in on battles. Kool moe D went in on busy bee and LL cool J. Krs one went in on Mc shan and even Roxane Shante. Em can’t afford to do that against a mainstream rapper because the fans want more than just lyrics. even nas v jay had some punches tht were cruical. Its always more than just words, when you go in on a battle you can loose ur career. He has been playin it safe. You never hear him say he is the greatest at anything. But he wll punk a boy band. smh.

  • Anonymous

    normally i read these posts without commenting, but this dude above me is just talkin’ straight nonsense. what are you saying cam would expose em or something?? em would eat him up if it came down to a battle. whether em has had a worthy opponent in the past is irrelevant. Em straight fucked some artists up even if they were easy targets, AND the fact that he even went after some of these people was because of his persona…why else would the motherfucker diss britney spears, nsync,backstreet boys, mobi, etc..its cause he portrays himself as a zany, crazy person who doesnt give a fuck..i look at it like em just picking on people for amusement

  • http://xxl All Dae

    I agree w/ Bol. Positive songs r cool like Rakims “Holy r u” But holding hands? come on…whens Wayne getting out the box?

  • Anonymous

    Another dumb ass article from the the king of hatin ass niggas.DO your home work lame, Em dropped some very memorable beats, you just havent listened to enough of his shit to know that.So I guess The Eminem Show was garbage huh? HE PRODUCED A LOT OF THAT ALBUM AND IT TURNED OUT TO BE HIS BEST TO DATE. Do your home work instead of talkin shit just to get hate resposes for hits on your blog.It seems like you never say anything positive through out an entire blog, even when givin props you turn around and still find some reason to talk shit.Your a fuckin lame, I hope you eventually get fired so I dont have to see your bullshit hate filled blogs on here any more.

  • Anonymous

    @ff1one@yahoo.com
    Shut the fuck up, do your home work too you fuckin moron, Em has went at Everlast, Ja Rule, Benzino,Cannibus ( who just now responded after all these years), Limp Bizkit, Vanilla Ice, and yes some pop stars.But dont say some dumb shit like he aint went at some one who cant rap.Cuz that bullshit aint true.SMFH. Have some fuckin proof to back up your lame ass claims.He already said anybody who wants it can get it.I hope he goes after Haystak and Canibus since they were the latest to pop off shit about him.Quit listenin to just his mainstream shit and check for his mix tape shit too, then you will truly learn about how fierce his battle skills are.

  • Ryan

    Eminem goes hard on this new album. Hes crazy on the mic his lyrics are beyond average and this is his best album yet and the truest album. He is being true to himself and expressing his feelings of what hes going through. Who are you to judge about sobriety if you dont know what its lke to be an addict?