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This is Eminem's debut album, though not on a major label so often gets discounted and forgotten.
It failed to make a dent in national charts but they did not have the kind of distribution necessary anyway. This album was sold locally by Eminem and his team, he says they pressed up around 1,000 copies.
Now, I'm a huge Eminem fan and think he is a literary genius. He also evolved, and evolves so quickly. He's always moving in a new direction musically or pushing himself in some new interesting way, and this record was Em trying to find his voice, and figure out how he wanted to sound on the mic.
I'll start off by saying that I do like Infinite, I think it's a solid album from start to finish and just the right length. Em can sometimes be guilty of over-running albums a little, or so you could argue, as sometimes it very much works in his favour as well. But this album, has just 11 tracks, compared to his major studio releases which typically have around 15.
Despite the fact many say this was hugely different to the Eminem albums that followed, the only truly different thing is the style. But Eminem changes styles every single album. No two albums of his sound the same. With 'Infinite' he got criticized for sounding too much like AZ and Nas, both of which were huge influences to him and hip-hop around that time ('Illmatic' especially). The criticisms were valid, and later acknowledged by Em himself.
But like I say, the content... aside from the fact his style was more laid back and his content less aggressive (due to trying to get played on local radio), you still have familiar territory here that you would expect from Em. He very quickly became branded a battle rapper due to the fact he gained his local respect from winning rap battles and later national respect at the Rap Olympics (1997), where he came in second place. And 'Infinite' showcases much of his battle rap lyricism and witty prowess.
You've got battle rap tracks (tracks with lyrics aimed at spurious targets, a constant non-existent opponent), for the sake of parading some good old smart-ass one liners, some of which are truly brilliant, my personal favourite being "Just in case you don't remember me, I'll run your brain around the block to jog your f****ing memory". Then you've got an introspective track, a few relationship tracks, an inspirational track, a party track and a storytelling / narrator track. So like I say, this kind of balance and format, is expected of Eminem.
If you take any of his albums, you'll usually find a few personal odes or confessionals, a storytelling track or two, an arbitrary track to show off skill and an intended hit or two. The only difference as I say, is his style and how he approached it.
'Infinite' is a lot less offensive but that's because his targets were imaginary rap battle opponents and not the mainstream media and members of Congress. Not because he became a 'shock tactic gimmick' as some try to unfairly dismiss him as. He's a reactionary artist, and any of his truly offensive or seemingly offensive and manic anger, outburst and provocation was done in response to misconception and disrespect towards him. It was rarely unjustified.
So, after 'Infinite' and the sound he was going for got rejected, he of course got riled up and created 'The Slim Shady EP'. The first true revelation of his ingenious Slim Shady persona, which is essentially just a metaphor for his bad side, or any inherent evil or wicked deeds. He simply uses the metaphor, under the guise of a personal title / character, as an outlet for anger, comedy, abstract creation and provocation. This was of course the true turning point in his career and what made him who he is.
Does that mean 'Infinite' is not worth a listen though? certainly not. You're not going to get revolutionary rhymes and ideas, the kinds of which you'll find on his first three major label releases but what you will get is a tightly bound album chock-full of deftly written lyrics on the subjects of depression and struggle, relationships, hip hop itself (rap, about rapping / battle rhymes) and lots of other cleverly woven one liners and literary experimentation.
Though this album gets dismissed, even by Em himself, as he says "he wasn't really saying anything" (which, is partially true but that doesn't mean it's not hugely satisfying or entertaining), this is still a very enjoyable listening experience and I can't really say there's a single weak track. Some tracks are better than others of course, you always have highlights, but there isn't any 'bad' music or lyrics here, or anything which doesn't fit the tone.
Also, "It's OK" for example is about as honest as Eminem gets. It's one of his better confessional, introspective songs (though, he generally always works wonders with these) and is very very honest, genuine, believable and wonderfully written. It's a very underrated song.
I really would love to hear this album re-mastered. Or, if Eminem could for example... take these old vocal recordings and create brand new beats (he's also a brilliant, and underrated producer) for the songs, that really would be a hip hop treat. Or he could re-make the album, by re-recording the same songs, with touched up lyrics, new beats and altered / improved flows. I'm fantasizing now of course but, that really would be amazing.
Overall this a great album that every Eminem fan should have in their collection and if you're a fan of good hip hop (which for the purpose of that statement I will loosely define as 'tight rhymes, catchy flows and clever ideas) then this album should satisfy you, on at least some level but most likely on many. The only true downfall and shame, is the production. Which certainly isn't bad per say but it definitely sounded dated and a little... generic and patchy.
Aside from that, it's solid from top to bottom.
What can I can say that my predecessors haven't. It's the real deal on this album, the trained lyrical voice of a man trying to make a life for himself. It bleeds from track one and the only word that can describe it, "street". Street was what Vanilla Ice professed that he was until Ice Cube and others brought him out with his comments in a interview. Then we get that offical apology interview"I was all hype" and then the worst part, " I was a sell-out". Then there was Milli Vanilli pretty boys from who knows where with there lip syncing concerts and then facing and telling everyone they were frauds. That's what backed up the music industry and fans to a white guy crawling out of the streets from Detroit to make a name for himself. He had the backing of a lot of people there, but it was getting out of the gutter or die a mainstream local that haunted him the most.
Getting on the bus going to the club, feeling deep down in those pockets to make sure you had bus fare. Knowing you had something that no one else can take away from you. That lyrical voice that can go for hours and not miss a beat, rolling off the words being bitter or sweet. Rationalizing that you needed to be heard yesterday because there might not be a tomorrow, knowing that the streets taketh more than they giveth.
When I slid this cd into my player and to hear how he is representing the 313 from the start and then the bass kicks in, I had to ease up on the bass because it flutters and through out the album tries to drown out his voice. Infinite was a great way to start this 1996 album because from jump-street hearing those lyrics bounce off that mic and you think you are listening to someone else. Call it Pre-Dre days but his style of words and the open promises of wanting to take care of Kim knowing there's a baby on the way sound more sincere. There was that hunger feeling in his gut in this song. There was a calling he was reaching out for, not pushing back like he is now. His identity of himself was that of Stan that was inside him. He was Stan pushing, arguing, fighting with himself trying to be heard from people he listen to, that wouldn't give him a break.
Then he started pushing every one he knew. Putting his foot in the door that opened saying "hey it's me, I got this jam on this disc can you put it out for me?" That's when it happened, when Its Ok became his overnight sensation on WEGO. He saluted them with a little diddy on here. The background is so bland it leaves you stationary. But the lyrics are fresh and creative, it leaves you thinking about how he is projecting his life in a good way. Like wanting to be a family man and making sure that they are taken care of. Speaking of God showing him the way. You don't hear that now.
313 is so raw and electrifying in laying the info straight forward just saying not just anyone can come up to a mic, but if your not as good as me forget about it. The lyrics are total street on the lifestyle of a rapper from song to death then back again. Your song is your fight, do it long and do it right if you don't have the experience there's no need to write. Let me just say this again so I don't have to repeat myself, the background bass is dead.
Now getting into Tonite there is a more upbeat sound and female backgrounds. But the bass was basically 3 notes and lame. The lyrics are passionately happy for making you comfortable like he's singing to you hoping your having a great time. A smooth party song and very easy on the ears.
Omg a complete 360 with Maxine. Everybody's girl. Party girl that has children at home. Em telling it straight up one night with Maxine couple days later it's going to burn to # 1. Guys even tell her to slow down as her pimp does anything walking and she wants something freaky to do makes her hunger for that fast lane. Total hoe song, letting her john know right before he goes in the tunnel of love she has Aids. Creepy tune but yet so common on the streets. Funny I got mines from a blood transfusion in 1983 and I lost more dates from being up front with them. Before the first kiss I had to let them know. I had to tell them cause I ain't no hoe..Backgrounds so low and lame
Alright aw-right everyone sit down at the club and share that Open Mic. Guess not everyone wants to be first. My stuff is fresh, blow you off the floor. Who the Fack passed you the mic and said you can blow? Takes the chorus. Fresh lyrics here about confidence against your competition. Total street song and am afraid it's admitting it.
Mapping out my strategies to be rich. Never 2 Far, gives you words of hope. Making plans and sticking with them. He knew he was going to have his day. He didn't know Dre was not far behind him. All this with bus fare and tired of being broke. Better back ground jumps at the start but I heard this song 4 times and sorry but I saw Vanilla Ice doing his cheap dancing in the back. It's about dreams and aspirations and praying not to be on the streets much longer.
Now the next tune Searchin a love rap from M&M. Such a smooth talker and trying to impress. Promises and throwing exaggerations at her. Sweet soft voice she has for the chorus. Still simple back grounds that I could of done better in.
Backstabber comical relief from this album, but you can see Slim trying to edge out. Funny chorus. I interpreted it as someone messed with him, probably a close ex-friend. Even at confrontation he still didn't come up a winner. Just knowing his own people would do him in. ( my opinion)
Jealously Woes ll, About how he gave her everything and she still isn't satisfied. How she is bragging never getting enough. She wanted her cake and eat it too. Em sticks up for himself and doesn't take her crap. Different pattern in the bass finally and snare drum. He caught with her mouth full in lyrics and kicking her to the curb. A good song.
1. Infinite ***
3. It's OK *****
4. 313 ****
5. Tonite *****
6. Maxine **
7. Open Mic **
8. Never 2 Far ***
9. Searchin' *****
10. Backstabber ***
11. Jealousy Woes II **
Overall a few of these songs really had it going on. The lyrics were so fresh which made the album. As the other proclaim and I will to a certain degree, Doctor Dre made Marshall into Slim. Slim made himself become a lyrical monster with all the beefs and family life. Yes he did give a few digs here and there, but not like his anger management cd's that came after this. I wish he would come out with a pre-auto biography to be self explanatory on why after going to California and getting a few Bennies in his pocket made that mouth turn against the his world.
I guess it's a story I'm going to have to find on my own for being illiterate of knowing his history.
Infinite is rapper Eminem's first album, released in 1996. This was his first release, before he was discovered by Dr. Dre. Production was handled by variety of different produces whom were never credited.
Being a big fan of Eminem, I'd thought I'd give his non-major label debut a try. It is quite hard to find, if you want to buy a physical copy it is quite expensive. Thankfully a website (not sure if I can mention its name here) released Infinite as a free download in anticipation of his 2009 release "Relapse".
This album does not contain mention of "Slim Shady", the character who appears in the rest of Eminem's albums. In fact this album contains nowhere near the amount of profanity and explicit lyrics featured on Eminem's later albums. Some may few that as a good thing, but I think the songs lack direction and Eminem says a lot of words without saying anything substantial at all, in songs such as "Searchin" and "Infinite". Despite this "Infinite" is easily my favourite song on the album, a very young sounding Eminem spitting some amazing, if nonsense rhymes. An exercise in lyrical gymnastics and some amazing multi-syllable rhyming over a pounding beat make this opening track the best on the album.
Songs like "Maxine" and "Searchin" are a bit more structured, whilst "Open Mic" is enjoyable. The songs are all devoid of the pop hooks that dominate Eminem's later work, so fans of hits like "My Name is" and "The Real Slim Shady" won't enjoy this heavy-going album.
I wouldn't really recommend this album to anyone apart from the most hard-core Eminem fan. It's worth a spin for novelty value if you own the rest of Eminem's discography.
An album which went largely unnoticed due to a lack of major-label backing, "Infinite" came in 1996 as the debut album from the Detroit rapper Eminem. Coming the year before getting signed by Dr. Dre, the release has him delivering some underground Rap material to suit what he was capable of creating at the time as he made the transition from a battle rapper (as many others had) towards becoming a recording artist as seen here. With production covered by Kon Artis (Mr. Porter of D12) as well as the rapper himself, they keep things all Detroit and show what the city's Hip Hop sound is about.
He gets the album off with this one as we find that he comes out with a little something that has him sticking to the prevalent style seen at the time (on the underground Rap scene). I thought that the cold way in which he approaches the music means that he gets off to a great start and is able to present his work in the way which he hoped for it to be - much more serious than it would be seen with his commercial breakthrough.
2. "W.E.G.O." (Lude)
3. "It's OK"
As we get off an interlude with Proof and DJ Head, we see that here he goes for another intense piece and one that has him bouncing into the music nicely and forcing right into the dark music which he offers. I thought that it was another strong piece for him and the way in which he pushes this personal material shows that during this period he was just as open as he would develop to be later in his music.
Coming in representing his ends, we see that here we get a raw tune where he's backed-up by Eye-Kyu and together they make for a typical track of the time where its all about showing why your side of town runs things. The pair of them do damage here and with such heavy beats from Kon Artis, it means that you are able to engage with the material throughout the thing effortlessly without tiring of it.
We get some effect sampling used to back up the rapper here and I thought that it gave things a very different feel as from it,. It means that he's able to show what else he has within it and how versatile he can be. Here he is backed-up by a heavy bounce and slap and it makes it a bit of a more laid-back one where he lets his guard down, but still shows that his innovative lyrical delivery hasn't been given a break.
For this one we get a nice themed piece where he centres everything on this Maxine character. I thought that it was a nice way for him to show that here he is able to speak on more socially-conscious themes, and although he doesn't quite address them in the way that 2Pac was on his debut, he still gives a thought-provoking twist on things and shows more of what he's about.
7. "Open Mic"
The beats are just too much here, they go for too hard and grab your attention from the beginning as Em' displays his abilities to create atmosphere. Here he comes with a track that sounds as though he's rapping as part of a rap battle as he shows just how well he's able to speak on things that he knows a lot about (after having come up through this field before getting a proper recording career).
8. "Never 2 Far"
You get into a heave headbob for this one as we see that Eminem gets into a little something where he rhymes about his struggle to get to the point where he's able to make a success of himself and get to the evasive money that he's been after since initiating his career in the early nineties (around 1991). I thought that this was the most complete track on the album and the way that his fly rhymes ride the killer beats make it a killer piece here.
With a nice R&B singer on the hook to set things up for him, here we see that we get a smooth piece from him as he goes for a track where he calms down his approach to rapping somewhat and it seems to work to his benefit as it allows him to pack in much more into his rhymes and show just how much he's got to offer the listeners. I thought that it may take some time to get into, but it's certainly a good one from him.
Sampling a previous track from the artist, here we have a little something that sounds as though it would have been single-worthy as it has a nice little swing to it and gets you livened up a little to show that we're in for something that sounds as though it would have received a fair bit of success if he had the funds to put it out on an EP. It was one of the best here and really stands out as a result.
11. "Jealousy Woes II"
Using some nice samples from both LL Cool J and Nas, we see that here we get a banger of a track to end the album off. I thought that this was the best way that the album could have been brought to an end as we see that h powers-out with a rough one that forces you to bob your head as all the other underground tracks around the East Coast and here in the Mid-West at the time made you.
This is a big album from Eminem and I thought that it was a shame that it wasn't given as much attention as others (simply because he didn't have any big-label backing). There's a lot within this one and I thought that having him stick to the underground stuff and not dip into the annoying commercial tracks is what made it as strong as it is.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
3 It's OK
7 Open Mic
8 Never 2 Far
11 Jealosy Woes