This reflective cut is the first single from American rapper Eminem's seventh studio album Recovery. Originally Marshall Mathers planned to do a sequel to his 2009 album, Relapse, but the rapper scrapped that idea to go in a different direction. He said on Twitter: "The music on Recovery came out very different from Relapse, and it deserves its own title."
In a pre-release interview with Billboard magazine, Eminem's manager, Paul Rosenberg, said that Recovery will be "more accessible to more fans. He [Eminem] had pretty much completed a whole second album worth of material but at some point he took a step back, looked at it and said, 'I think I want to record some more.' But in recording, the album started to sound so different and was going in such a different direction that he decided to keep it going and turn it into a whole new album. The last album was really for the core Eminem fans. I think this record will open that up a bit."
"Not Afraid" reflects the more positive mood of the album and finds Eminem rapping on how he has tried to overcome his personal troubles such as his battles with drug addiction. He goes on to admit to some artistic mistakes including dissing his previous album: "Let's be honest/ That last Relapse CD was ehh." Eminem finally declares that he wants to concentrate just on his family and music. Rosenberg commented to Billboard magazine, "It's an uplifting song. It's not a dark song, it's an uplifting song."
This was the sixteenth single in the history of the Billboard
Hot 100 to debut at #1. The previous artist to do so was Britney Spears whose hit "3
" opened at the top position on the chart dated October 17, 2009.
The song became a sports anthem after receiving repeat play on national network TV during the NBA playoffs. It also aired frequently during HBO's 24/7, whilst showcasing the preparations of the Floyd Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley fight and was featured on the commercial of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Recovery was Eminem's sixth #1 album in a row in the UK. In doing so, the Detroit MC became the American act with the most consecutive UK #1 albums, overtaking Bon Jovi's five successive sets between 1988 and 2000. Eminem also became the solo act with the most consecutive UK #1 albums beating Robbie Williams' five long players in a row between 1998 and 2002. Recovery was also Eminem's sixth consecutive #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. In a similar fashion to the UK Eminem became the solo act with the most consecutive US #1 albums beating three artists with five long players in a row:
Elton John (1972-74)
Paul McCartney (1973-77)
The Detroit MC also became the American act with the most consecutive US #1 albums, overtaking the five consecutive chart-toppers of DMX and Chicago (1972-75).
Recovery sold 741,000 copies in its first week, the best weekly sales figure since AC/DC's Black Ice debuted at #1 with 784,000 copies in November 2008.
Recovery's seven non-consecutive weeks at #1 on the US album chart were the most for any album since Taylor Swift's Fearless topped the charts for 11 non-consecutive weeks in late 2008/ early 2009. It was also the most for any male artist since Usher's Confessions spent nine weeks on top of the chart summit in 2004.
According to Nielsen SoundScan, Recovery was the United States' best-selling album of 2010, with 3.42 million copies sold. This was the second time that Eminem had achieved the top-selling album of the year, as back in 2002 The Eminem Show moved 7.61 million.
Recovery was the first album to sell over a million digital copies in the United States.
This clocked up over ten million sales and streams, resulting in Eminem becoming the first ever artist to earn a second RIAA Digital Diamond Award. The rapper's "Love The Way You Lie
" had previously topped ten million units.
Paul Rosenberg wasn't particularly enthused by the song's original version. Eminem recalled to Interview Magazine
: "When I played him 'Not Afraid' for the first time, he wasn't too fond of it. Then we had a conversation a few days later, and he was like, 'Do you think it needs a bridge?' And I was like, 'I knew you were going to say that.'"