Not Afraid: The Shady Records Story

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The new millennium brought forth a tidal shift in the music industry and one artist stood tallest in that transformation. Marshall Mathers, more commonly known as Eminem, swept the global music scene with his unique phrasing, infectious productions, and almost uncomfortably confessional lyrics. The new documentary Not Afraid: The Shady Records Story, produced by Complex Media, traces the meteoric rise of Eminem through his solo efforts, high-profile collaborations, and the formation of his own company Shady Records.

The origins of Eminem’s career as rap superstar began under the tutelage of Dr Dre, who exposed his young protégé to the possibilities of music production, and the creation of a consistently provocative sonic experience which carries over the course of an entire album. Another early collaborative influence was Paul Rosenberg, a budding music manager who always dreamed of starting his own record label. Hitting it off with Eminem upon their first meeting in 1997, the two would make that dream a reality two years later with the founding of Shady Records. Their partnership is sketched in the classic creative-managerial mould; Eminem lives for the studio, crafting the most appealing and provocative beats he can conjure, while Rosenberg works to refine the image of their company, and markets each production to reach the most receptive masses.

The film’s portrait of the creative behemoth at its centre – Eminem – is particularly revealing. Surprisingly loyal and humble, Eminem uses his company’s platform to sign many incredibly unique and talented artists who started with him long before fame hit, and his contributions have catapulted their musical success into the stratosphere. In spite of the mountains of accolades and awards of recognition he’s received over the course of his career, he refuses to rest on his laurels. His quest for the next defining album, and his reliance on remaining true to his own unique perspective, continually drive him to greater depths of artistic expression.

Featuring insights from Dr Dre, 50 Cent, as well as Eminem and Rosenberg, Not Afraid: The Shady Records Story examines the trajectory of a record label that went from boutique status to a full-fledged hit factory. In the process, Eminem, accompanied by his carefully recruited roster of artists and other creatives, continues to change the face of music.

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