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Credit: Nigel Parry

Image Credit: Nigel Parry“Let’s be honest, that last Relapse CD was ehhh.” Some cranky blogger taking Eminem down a notch? Nope — that’s Marshall Mathers himself on “Not Afraid,” the just-leaked lead single from his upcoming Recovery. “Relax,” he adds a couple of lines later. “I ain’t going back to that now.”

Sure enough, “Not Afraid” couldn’t be more different from the tracks Em used to introduce Relapse around this time last year. It’s not a zany pop-detritus goof like “We Made You,” nor a harrowing psychotic episode like “3 A.M.” Instead “Not Afraid” is inspirational in tone, a proclamation of self-worth that aspires to anthem status — something like 2002’s “Sing for the Moment” or Relapse standout “Beautiful.”

Lyrically, Em is as on point as he’s been since returning from self-imposed exile. Wild flows and internal rhymes abound. I’m less impressed with the beat, reportedly the handiwork of frequent Drake collaborator Boi-1da. The track behind “Not Afraid” has the same tinny, repetitive, wannabe-epic quality that’s annoyed me on Boi-1da productions like “Forever.” Then again, “Forever” became a breakout hit for Drake, so I’m sure plenty of listeners will disagree with me.

Have you heard “Not Afraid” yet? How do you like it? On a scale of one to 10, how much are you looking forward to Recovery‘s June 22 release?

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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