Even before we saw Eminem’s commanding live performance of “Not Afraid”, the self-empowerment anthem that leads off his Recovery album, we knew the video for the song would have to pack a punch. The Rich Lee-directed clip delivers as perhaps no other Eminem video ever has, using basic-but-effective symbolism to express the dark, maddening journey that Marshall Mathers himself has traveled in recent years. Step to the ledge and take the jump to see this one. Trust us.
Eminem, “Not Afraid”:
It’d be too simplistic to nitpick about all the closeup shots of Eminem’s Nike sneakers or other possible product placements. This video feels bigger than that – this is about the rapper some rank as the artist of the last decade trying to rebuild his image and reputation.
After those gorgeous opening shots of Marshall standing on ledge of a rooftop overlooking Newark (why this wasn’t shot in Detroit, we’re not sure), we cut back and forth to a basement where he rhymes in frustration. While he appears to turn away from the obvious suicidal overtones of the roofstop bit, he isn’t out of the darkness yet: he sees Market Street turn into a hall of mirrors where he must confront his own image, and finally, the edge of a cliff, where he decides to take a leap (or, really, a fall) of faith. But rather than meet his doom, Marshall takes flight – insert your Superman metaphors and The Matrix references here.
It amounts to a powerful statement, in our view. If some of the images feel a little heavy-handed, that’s ok. We’re happy to see Eminem aspire to make epic music again. Guess who’s back?