On Eminem’s first Recovery single “Not Afraid,” the rapper turns his scathing lens on himself, owning up to his past struggles with drugs and vowing he’s on a fresh path. In the song’s new video for the track filmed by director Rich Lee, Em similarly puts his redemption in the spotlight, wandering the streets of Newark, New Jersey, and his native Detroit while rhyming about gathering up the courage to remake his future. As he reflects on his life, the streets become literal reflections, morphing into a hall of mirrors with distorted images. The beginning of the “Not Afraid” clip finds Eminem standing on the edge of a skyscraper, but by the video’s end it becomes clear he’s not getting ready to jump to his death — he actually flew there to safety like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix.
The same day the “Not Afraid” video premiered, Eminem made a rare televised appearance to perform the track and promote Recovery on the U.K.’s Friday Night With Jonathan Ross. With fellow guest LL Cool J watching from backstage, Em revealed, “Hearing [LL] rap actually made me want to rap. Then I think when the Beastie Boys came out, then I kind of felt like it was possible.” When talk turned to his most recent disc, Relapse, Eminem reiterated his bold statement on “Not Afraid” that the “CD was ehh.” “When I put it out obviously I was happy with it otherwise I wouldn’t have put it out. But looking back on it now in retrospect, I feel like there was a lot of stuff on there that was humorous and shock value and I had to go back and listen to my older material and figure out why these songs off Relapse didn’t make me feel like those used to and kind of put the feeling back into what I do,” he said.
Adding that Relapse is packed with punch lines, Em said, “I think that once you listen to it once, at least I felt like, the joke’s over so it’s not something you can continuously listen to over and over and over.” Though he explained Recovery takes his lyrics in new directions, Eminem promised that he wouldn’t completely scrub the biting humor from his flow, as evidenced by his leaked collaboration with Pink, “Won’t Back Down.”
Watch the “Not Afraid” video and Ross performance below: