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"Not Afraid" (CD single)
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although this is one of Eminem's most positive singles to date, it still contains too much profanity for it to be appropriate for kids. The "clean" version is a much better choice since the bad words have been removed. There's discussion of rehab and the negative effects drug addiction had on the rapper's life. Despite the mature content, the message here is a positive one: that you can come back from adversity and be stronger for having done so.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
If last year saw Eminem's downward spiral into psychosis and derangement on Relapse, this year might usher in a kinder, gentler, and apparently sober Slim Shady. NOT AFRAID marks the first single off of his latest album, appropriately titled Recovery. This marks one of the few times where the rapper's lead-off single isn't a humorous parody. In fact, Eminem is strangely self-revealing and at times humble. Is this the final chapter in Em's tale of dependence, depression, and deliverance? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure: the public seems to be responding to the new and improved rapper, with the single debuting at number one, a rare feat for a hip-hop track.
Is it any good?
It's hard to find fault with Eminem for finally taking a positive step forward from the murderous, pill-popping image he had fallen into for so many years. Here he's coming clean, literally, even dissing some of his former work: "Let's be honest, that last Relapse CD was 'ehhhh'." But something is lukewarm with this track as well. Eminem has always positioned himself as an unflinching social commentator with an emotionally raw blizzard of lyrics that left you feeling sucker-punched. Will an uplifting, inspirational Slim Shady have anything authentic to say? The one glimmer of hope to find is Eminem's rapping skills, which appear firmly in check. Now if he can drop mock-singing choruses and cheesy lines like "I'm not afraid to take a stand, everybody come take my hand," his foray from the dark side may be complete.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Eminem's change of attitude. Just because this single is positive and non-threatening, what does Eminem's career as a whole represent? Can one single make it easier to listen to other, more hardcore tracks? Why is it important to look at both the lyrics and the message of a song?
What does this single say about drug addiction? Does it show that even an addiction to prescription drugs can have a disastrous effect on someone's life? Do you think the media sometimes sends mixed signals about alcohol and drug abuse?
For kids who love hip-hop
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