July 29, 2008

Eminem - Infinite (1996)



Most people are aware of the Marshall Mathers story where his demo tape mysteriously finds its way into the hands of superproducer Andre Young, who immediately signs the young man to a multi-album deal with his Interscope vanity imprint Aftermath Records, and markets him to the MTV audience as if he was a brand new entity on the scene. Which, of course, he was. But even though he was no novelty act (selling literally billions of albums, no matter how far downhill the quality levels dropped after the first few discs, pretty much cements your name in the history books), everybody has to start somewhere.

Infinite is Eminem's first actual album (The Slim Shady LP was just his mainstream debut), and it was created around a time in Marshall's life that was tumultuous. He was expecting his first child with his then-girlfriend Kim, and he had just had a falling out with the producer Manix, with whom Em had worked for years, recording freestyles and songs with the no-name crew Soul Intent. Personal issues plagued the team, and Em eventually just left the crew (harboring absolutely zero ill feelings whatsoever, Manix sold Eminem's demos, which included the infamous song where Marshall used the dreaded "n-word", to The Source, just before Em's nemesis Benzino was forced out. A class act, that Manix). With his need to focus on his craft, in an effort to turn his life around (most of the flick 8 Mile was no joke, y'all), Eminem (who was, at that point, called M&M, which is almost as silly a rap name as Eminem) paired up with another underground Detroit performer, Denaun Porter, who agreed to produce Em's debut disc Infinite. (Yes, it's the same Denaun Porter that's a part of D-12 today: this lends credence to the theory that Eminem hung around with the various members of the Dirty Dozen for years before being asked to become an official member). Of course, the odds are pretty even that there were other ghost-producers working on Infinite, but Mr. Porter (as he would later be known) was the only one that received any actual credit, and possibly payment (I heard that Eminem paid him with some two-for-one coupons at the Steak-N-Shake).

Considering the fact that you've never heard of it, it's not surprising that Infinite sold zero copies. Oddly, Eminem caught some flack for appropriating the styles of some of the more popular rappers of the day, such as Nasir Jones and AZ, who was never actually that popular. This is a far cry from the Eminem we know today, the man who used to create a new rhyme style for every single guest appearance he had, let alone every song, but in 2008 is very close to losing his White Rapper title to the likes of Asher Roth, unless, of course, his next album, tentatively titled King Mathers, is actually good.

But what are the odds of that? (Seriously, Marshall, prove me wrong.)

1. INFINITE
Because everybody and their mother is familiar with Eminem at this point, it's almost impossible to imagine a time when the motherfucker wasn't a multi-platinum artist. And that's too bad. Apparently Marshall has always been lyrically proficient, making Infinite an underground release with some pretty good wordplay, but really shitty production (like the majority of underground releases, actually).

2. W.E.G.O. (FEAT DJ HEAD & PROOF)
The overused "radio station skit" that is notable only because of the participation of Proof (R.I.P.).

3. IT'S OK (FEAT EYE-KYU)
These fake-ass East Coast beats are getting to sound pretty frustrating, especially since everybody involved with Infinite is from fucking Detroit.

4. TONITE
Marshall's internal rhyme scheme was present even on Infinite, although it still needed some polish to win over the hip hop heads. This is a radio-friendly Em that you've never heard before: rhyming over a faux-R&B track. Not completely horrible, but it is what it is.

5. 313 (FEAT EYE-KYU)
A boring-ass Detroit collaboration cut with Eye-Kyu. Well, at least Bizarre isn't here to fuck everything up with his boring-ass "jokes" masquerading as rhymes. And I stand by my previous statement: there is not a person in this world that thinks Em is "alright", but believes Bizarre to be the shit. Nobody. And if you claim to be in the comments, then you're a liar.

6. MAXINE (FEAT 3 & DENAUN PORTER)
Another dull posse cut, this one notable because Kon Artis, also known as Mr. Porter, also known as Denaun, also known as "one of the interchangeable rappers in D-12", appears alongside his future boss. Funny the way the world turns, huh?

7. OPEN MIC (FEAT THYME)
Features what could be the genesis of the Slim Shady alias, what with the Jason reference and the origins of his later rhyme "I used to give a fuck, now I give a fuck less" (which Shawn Carter would later steal for his own "Success", although I'm sure he had Marshall's blessing). The guy on the hook has a voice that could resurrect a dead dog, it's that screechy, but otherwise, I really liked this song. The beat is pretty good, too.

8. NEVER 2 FAR
It's interesting to hear the lyrical content of this song today (Marshall dreams of a better life for himself and his unborn child) when you know that he actually made it, and is, in reality, one rich motherfucker. Also, this might be the first time Em has tried to inspire his listeners, although he would pull that off much more effectively with his Academy Award-winning "Lose Yourself" from the 8 Mile soundtrack.

9. SEARCHIN'
I never want to hear Eminem rap on a song with an indistinguishable R&B chick on the hook ever again.

10. BACKSTABBER
This is actually a remake of a song that Eminem did in the past called "Fucking Backstabber", which was recorded either with a crew called Soul Intent or while Eminem was part of a crew called Soul Intent (depending on who you want to believe). After hearing this, I have to wonder how fucking boring the original version had to be in order to warrant this reimagining sounding merely dull.

11. JEALOUSY WOES II
This song isn't bad, but the chick's voice (I thought it was Marshall himself, disguising his own tone, until she said the "n-word", and I realized that there was no way Eminem would be stupid enough to spit that word on wax twice) is annoying as shit. The song also loses its focus as the track wears on, but that won't matter, as it will have also lost its audience by the time the disc ends.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Infinite is a discomforting listen, because it takes an artist that you're familiar enough with, and places him in an unintelligibly mainstream-esque course of action: there's no way Marshall himself could have thought that this shit would move units. Ultimately, the failure of this album, combined with the stresses of his daily life, led to a deep depression, which Em was only able to break out of by creating an angry alias that wasn't afraid to say some of the most vile, hateful things that would ever come out of the hip hop world. For now, though, there's Infinite.

BUY OR BURN? You can't buy this one anyway, since it's been officially out of print for at least a decade. Bootleg versions are bountiful, especially in Europe, but truthfully, I wouldn't even bother with a burn. This is strictly for Marshall fiends only: all else need not apply.

BEST TRACKS: "Open Mic"; "Never 2 Far"

-Max


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36 comments:

  1. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessJuly 29, 2008

    I feel like everybody who ever thought that Marshall had talent should listen to the title track Infinite. He murders that shit. Plus it's one of the few songs on this album where the production does not detract from the rhymes. I consider it one of his top 5 songs ever.

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  2. I brought the albu, back in 2001 from this CD store called "DA Crak Houze"

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  3. At least you didn't try and say you copped this back in '97 or something.

    You want to review some shit, you should do Dead Prez "Let's Get Free", because it seems like you're scraping the bottom of the barrel by reviewing this.

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  4. this album is good for what it is - a look at a shitty recording, minimal beats that all sound the same, but incredible wordplay.
    the title track is absolutely crazy.

    and if you think about, denaun also recently did "extra hard" for little brother, which is fucking dope...shows how far he has come.

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  5. AnonymousJuly 30, 2008

    Bizarre>Jigga

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  6. ^^Lol

    The blogdom makes it sound like this album sold a milli.

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  7. "which was recorded either with a crew called Soul Intent or while Eminem was part of a crew called Soul Intent (depending on who you want to believe)."

    Soul Intent was just the duo of Eminem & DJ Butterfingers. I've talked to Em himself about it, so there's no doubt.

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  8. Well...I liked 313 for these reasons:

    "Boy I'm the deepest thing since potholes to ever hit the streets"

    "On open mic I bone your women just to keep my lyrics coming"

    "I'll run your brain around the block to jog your fucking memory"

    "You could date a stick of dynamite and wouldn't go out with a bang"

    "You couldn't make the fans throw up their hands if they swallowed their fingers"

    I also liked backstabber.

    Plus it's better than at least his last album, if not his last two.

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  9. I strongly disagree with this review. Infinite is an album whose pure beauty comes from its lyrics.

    Like Aidan pointed, the lyrics from 313 are incredible, from both Eye-kyu and Eminem. Maxine is another super track. It is deep and yet again the lyrics are deep and meaningful. I would consider the lyrics in this album the best lyrics i have ever heard from any hip hop artist. Maybe if he packed more of a punch behind them the album would have been better, that said it is still a fabulous album. Backstabber is sampled from his soul intent disk, and the song it samples is insane. The other song "bitterphobia" is one of the best tracks i've ever heard. Soul intent can be downloaded from megaupload.com.

    Overall though, infinite is a really good album for all the deep hip-hop fans out there

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  10. Strongly disagree with this review as well, if eminem would of kept this style HE WOULD HAVE BEEN WAY DOPER TODAY! Fuck the reviewer for this shit review

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  11. This review is way too harsh. The lyrics in this album are quite good, and the production, while not groundbreaking, is adequate on most of the tracks.

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  12. Obviously the man writing this review doesn't really know shit about hip-hip. If you think these rhymes on "Infinite" aren't prolific, then you really need to be educated. Your comment on Asher Roth being the new "White Rapper" is ridiculous and ignorant. Eminem hasn't been known as THE "White Rapper" for years. He has been known as "The best rapper alive" by a very large portion of the hip-hop population including winning a poll in Vibe Magazine as best rapper alive over Jay-Z and others. Next time do your homework. I would hate to see you write a review proclaiming the overrated Asher Roth as the greatest rapper of all-time

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  13. I must be a real hip hop head or just nuts, but I didn't think the beats where that bad. Granted I like mid 90's NY rap and even though these dudes where from detroit it has that sound. The only song I feel really needs to go is maxine its just not good. Favorite song Infinte,313, Tonight.

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  14. Whoever created this review must be near deaf. This is one of the most lyrically satisfying albums I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. More amazing is the fact that he has some of the most boring and simple instrumentals and still manages to spit fire. Yes it's a different Eminem, but it's also at a different stage in his life, before his domestic problems and his financial struggles with the responsibility of his daughter. If u can't follow what this man is saying on this album pull up the lyrics while listening to the tracks, then you'll realize the lyrical perfection. Aside from 3 tracks, (Maxine, Backstabber, Jealousy Woes II) this is a very legitimate album for any hip hop fan that hasn't been already too far dumbed down by contemporary rap.

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  15. Easily the greatest Eminem album ever.

    If he had better beats. I thought it wasn't so bad even with the lame beats though.

    I'd very much like to hear a mashup of this album with some producers like Primo and Pete Rock.

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  16. HA. last time i visit this site.

    praising lil' wayne's albums, and disregarding old school goldies like this gem-of-an-album?

    hey reviewer: go back to your lady gaga radio crap, you probly have her posters all over your room right?

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  17. Hey Mitch - thanks for not giving enough of a fuck to actually read the Lil Wayne review (note the use of the singular and not of the plural 'albums') and notice that was a Reader Review. Thanks for reading!

    Also, I stand by my dismissal of Marshall's debut. Most listeners will find that it isn't worth your time.

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  18. "Most listeners will find that it isn't worth your time"

    Really? Why did it get a 3.78/5 on Discogs.com? Out of 18 ratings... Yeah

    http://www.discogs.com/Eminem-Infinite/release/232900

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  19. LOL, Soul Intent was a group consisted of Eminem, Chaos Kid, DJ Buttafingaz and Manix.
    anyways good review i laughed at a few of the song reviews. The original cut of Fuckin' Backstabber is WAYYY better then the recut version on here (Em raps really fast)
    Personally I like this album, well the songs I can manage to listen to the whole way through (Infinite, Never 2 Far, Open Mic, and Jealousy Woes II)
    His wordplay was amazing on this album, but if you want to hear FAST really good wordplay I say look up his old Soul Intent/ Bassmint Productions demos. His former rap Partner Chaos Kid leaked most of their old songs

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  20. AnonymousMay 02, 2010

    what bout 313, the wordplay on that is AMAZING, his flow is sick too to call it boring is just wrong and eye-kyu merks it sick track, why did you say it was bad and then go on about Bizarre(who is terrible, I agree with you there) (:

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  21. Max: you = dumb

    reviews like this show me why this whole site is a joke

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  22. Really!? The guy who did this review thinks Asher Roth is better then Eminem? This guy really dosn't know shit about hip hop..

    "These fake-ass East Coast beats" - the fuck is this guy smoking? Crack? This guy must be a lil' wayne and dirty south fanatic judging from this retarded ass statement..

    Fucking faggot.. And he thinks this review is credible? Dude needs to get slapped with a dirty tampoon..

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  23. I take issue with a lot of your comments, especially about the production. I'm feeling it. It's very subtle, deep, and smooth. I think it captures a strong sense of the East Coast/Detroit sound at that point in time. And they are a perfect compliment to the vocals, which let's Em's wordplay shine and not be overridden by over-the-top annoying beats. Infinite is by far the best Eminem album ever, in my humble opinion.

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  24. Definitely emimems best album, lyrically and production-wise to me at least. the grittiness snatches me, its so rugged, matching that time in his life perfectly. the shit came out in '96, and mpc's were used predominately up until the 2000s, shit reminds me of some nas or bigL beats.. i dont know what the fuck this maxxyfaggot is talkin about, he doesn't know shit about hip hop. this record definitely deserves more credit than it got

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  25. You're spot on about the production it's terrible, and the lyrics are just OK.

    Em has every reason to distant himself from this piece of crap. Those raging em fans would probably pay good cash for this trash.

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  26. I hope you relise that this is what real hip hop is. And BTW detroit is east coast lmfao

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    Replies
    1. nah, its mid-west. Detroit gets shunned by the East and West Coast so its starting to develope its own sound,but just now

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  27. You were dead right about the production value, it is at a time of his desperation where he had to get it done. The lyrics are all that mattered and obviously got him signed with Dre.

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  28. All the anonymous people... you're all just purely retarded. If you really think that Infinite is one of the dopest hip hop albums out there, then you don't know SHIT about hip hop.

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  29. Are you seriously Max?? this album is Dope,

    Infinite/Slim Shady LP > AAAAAllll Eminem's Works

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  30. I'm deciding if I should get this album or not, I only heard the songs "Infinite" and "It's Ok". I love what I'm hearing so far.

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  31. Dude, found this blog a week ago, been reading constantly at work ever since. There's some absolute gold on this site.

    I had to comment on this one though. Who the fuck gets so bitchy about Max's thoughts on Infinite, of all albums? You ppl make yourself look like teenage pussys whining because someone has a different opinion.

    For me, it's alright. Em had the talent but lacked the direction on Infinite. some of the choices of beat and subject were questionable (Backstabber just gets annoying with that chorus) but Infinite and Maxine worked for me, esp. Infinite. But fuck damn he got a lot better.

    Keep it up Max! You're a fucking masochist dude.

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  32. Fuck everyone has there own opp
    I loved the lp mainly becuz of the low quality duh he was broke with ill lyrics if 8mile was true then you know what he...and he did what he could to get the job done butit was made in 96 there fore DOPE
    I RAP ASWELL somtimes you gotta put yourself in.the other person shoes so the low quality part WTF I DNT GET IT imagine u had dope lyrics you wanted people to hear but no money or good beats would you still strive to get your music out or wait till you meet someone famous n stay ghosts
    FUCK THE TYPOS IM IM ON A SHITTY PHONE

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  33. Infinite is one of Ems best albums in my opinion. It has the lyrics and instrumentals of a classic, it presents themes of real hip hop. Its a shame albums like this got slept on. I just hope that every person who likes em appreciates his very early work from the bassmint/soul intent, infinite and the slim shady ep days because he put so much effort into those albums. Im fortune enough to own the majority of the rare stuff before he got signed as well as 2 first pressing infinite vinyls (one sealed and one open)and Im glad that I own a part of history. I would love it for him to preform infinite at his last ever show too show where he came from to where he is now.

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  34. This album is fucking dope. SSLP is better and maybe MMLP but your review is retarded. Great showcase of his lyrical talent.

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  35. The lyrics on this album are insane, and i know you might think im crazy, but its just my personal opinion; this is my favorite Eminem album, obviously a few songs aren't that good, but overall my favorite Eminem album.

    Note, i heard the album a few years after i started hearing Eminem

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