After the latest era of his career got off to a rocky start with a pair of singles that weren’t met with praise or charting dominance, Eminem has seemingly returned to his former glory, thanks in part to the inclusion of Ed Sheeran.
The hip-hop superstar dropped the video for his new single “River” on Feb. 14, which seems like odd timing considering the subject matter of both the track and the clip. In the visual, Eminem is romantically (or, in his eyes, only sexually) entangled with a woman who has a storied and difficult past with another man. She suffers abuse and seeks out Eminem, only to have her heart broken later when she reveals some life-changing news to the musician.
The video also features confessional-style interviews with Eminem, as well as the actress and actor playing his love (?) interest and her former husband. Those moments can be tense and serious, and a dark-haired Marshall Mathers plays the role so well and raps rhymes about making a woman give up her baby so convincingly, it’s not entirely clear what’s true and what’s made up.
There are certainly parts of the “River” treatment that are difficult to watch, but other scenes are visually spectacular, and the special effects department really did a terrific job on this one. In between scenes with their female co-star, Eminem and Ed Sheeran lip sync their lines in a dirty, dilapidated room. The scene around them is filled with rain and exploding lights and windows, which add a different, less intense form of drama to the production.
While it wasn’t initially named as a single, “River” was immediately identified as a favorite track on Eminem’s new album Revival by fans. Many people purchased just that one song, and it has already been streamed almost 200 million times in only about two months, and that much attention in such a short span of time has helped it become the biggest tune on the powerhouse’s new record. “River” is already the highest-charting song from Revival in the United States, as it debuted and peaked (at least thus far) at No. 11, outpacing even “Walk on Water,” which features Beyoncé. In the U.K., it has risen even higher, and last month it became the latest No. 1 smash for both Sheeran and Eminem.
Now that “River” has received a proper video, it will be pushed to radio stations across the U.S., and it’s probable that in the coming months, it will grow in popularity and beat its own best showing, eventually climbing into the top 10. After watching Eminem's new serious clip, check out a Fuse interview with the hip-hop superstar, where he chats about his other project, Bad Meets Evil: