In a turn of events, rap and recovery icon Eminem surprised Oscar attendees with a performance of his hit, “Lose Yourself.” Eminem caught the crowd off-guard with the seventeen-year-old Oscar-winning hit from the film 8 Mile. He came dressed in all black, a gold chain, and a full beard to boot, and jumped into an animated showcase of his song.
For some, however, the performance was more puzzling than uplifting. Why perform his most successful and award-winning song seventeen years after winning an Oscar for it?
Reflecting A Sober State of Mind
It’s no secret that Eminem has been sober for over a decade. His music has long been a reflection of his state of mind, and performing “Lose Yourself” was a bold move.
It’s been almost twelve years since Eminem committed himself to recovery, and his music has reflected his shift in thinking. His struggles with addiction came to a head during his time filming 8 Mile, when he began taking prescription drugs.
Looking back on his addiction, Eminem says that he’s not sure when addiction and abuse became a problem for him. Around this time, there came a point when living life without opioids or other drugs seemed like an impossibility.
His denial and excuses persisted for years. He justified his abuse by telling himself “I’m not out there shooting heroin. I’m not… putting coke up my nose. I’m not smoking crack.” This makes Eminem’s performance of “Lose Yourself” even more powerful, as it was initially written and performed in active addiction.
Eminem has been a groundbreaking artist since he debuted his alter ego, Slim Shady. Shady, who is open about mental health issues and abuse, became an easy avenue of expression for Eminem. He lost himself in substance abuse and had it impact the entirety of his being as both Eminem and Shady.
His music, specifically Relapse and Recovery, reflected his struggle with substances and how his life has shifted. This forward movement makes “Lose Yourself” all the more powerful, as Eminem was able to lose himself in the power of music and express himself clearly, without the need to hide behind substances.
A Second Chance at the Oscars
Seventeen years ago, there was an uproar at the Oscars because Eminem didn’t attend or perform his award-winning song. At the time, Eminem had turned down the opportunity because he “didn’t really feel like [the Oscars] would understand me.”
Although the performance seemed to puzzle some attendees, those who have followed Eminem’s journey recognized its significance. Even though Eminem felt lost and understood in the past, sobriety has given him the confidence to grow as an artist.
Now, over a decade into his recovery and a changed man, he seized the opportunity when it presented itself. Although belated, Eminem was ecstatic to be able to take the stage that had been waiting for him for so long. He got another shot, another chance, and he didn’t blow this opportunity.
A Suitable Song
In 8 Mile, Eminem’s character “B-Rabbit” is confined to his blue-collar factory job in the car manufacturing industry. Ironically, the documentary American Factory walked away with the Oscar for Best Documentary feature on Sunday night.
Although some may argue that Eminem’s performance felt disjointed, it fit like a puzzle piece in the scheme of things. Blue-collar workers, especially those in mining and construction, have some of the highest rates of alcohol abuse. This is a topic touched upon in 8 Mile, and one that was unfortunately left unbroached in American Factory.
Both 8 Mile and American Factory examine the struggles of working-class Americans, and how trying to achieve dreams can feel impossible. While neither of them take a hard look at substance abuse, the reality is that middle-class Americans suffer the most.
Getting on the Road to Recovery
For a man like Eminem, music is more than just escape. It encouraged his artistic expression and gave him an outlet during his rockiest bottoms.
For many middle-class, blue-collar Americans, music can be one of the few escapes allowed to them. That’s why B-Rabbit used music and freestyle rap, and why Recovery Unplugged uses music as a catalyst for recovery.
If you or someone you love is struggling with drugs or alcohol, we’re here to help you. If you love music and want to “lose yourself” in it, let us help you take the first steps towards recovery. Reach out to us today to get started on the right track.