1. Infinite // 2. Wego [Interlude] (feat DJ Head & Proof) // 3. It’s Okay (feat. Eye-Kyu)// 4. Tonite / / 5. 313 (feat. Eye-Kyu)// 6. Maxine (feat. 3 & Denaun Porter)// 7. Open Mic (feat. Thyme)// 8. Never Far // 9. Searchin’ // 10. Backstabber // 11. Jealousy Woes II
Eminem’s cultural impact hardly needs to be put in writing at this point. Being one of the few caucasian rappers to achieve both hiphop credibilty and career longevity. Selling 50 million albums in the USA alone. Racking up controversy. Making a lot of hits by squeezing vile punchlines and catchy hooks into one winning formula. Having had a haircut like a golden retriever’s ass. Racking up controversy. Rolling with Dre. Putting 50 Cent on the map. Disappearing from the spotlight in 2004 in order to kick his prescription medicine addiction and returning five years later without his trademark bleach blonde hair and with a brand new sound which is best described as deaf emo drillsergeant. And racking up controversy.
Before Marshall Bruce Mathers III did all of these things however he was a struggling Detroit underground rapper who was releasing his debut album Infinite on the complete non-entity Web entertainment, ran by frequent collaborators the Bass brothers, hoping that he’d sell some albums.
The Eminem you hear on Infinite is a far cry from the rapper who took the world by storm in 1999. Slim Shady, his vile sociopathic alter-ego for the uninitiated, is nowhere to be found. Allegedly he tried to be a more radio-friendly creature in order to get airplay on Detroit radiostations. Although the attemp obviously failed since no-one ever listened to Infinite until after Em blew up this most likely true since the air of tongue-in-cheek mysoginy, homophobia, self-hatred and suicidal tendencies that hang around a major label Eminem album are almost completely missing here. It’s Okay is about positivity in hard times. Never Far is a sky’s the limit-self help anthem, and a good one at that. Tonite has an unironic good times party vibe that Eminem would never do again. And Searchin’ is an ode to Kim that in fact doesn’t end in Em killing her. Also missing are the the expensive-ass Dr. Dre beats or the mostly boring-ass Marshall Mathers marching band productions his Interscope output is known for sporting. So in the place of Slim Shady and Dr. Dre we get a someone more competent version of AZ and budget east coast instrumentals courtesy of future D12 member Denaun Porter.
Although Em’s content is completely different from what we’re used to hearing from him his multisyllabic rhymes and internal rhyme scheme had already been fully developed on Infinite. Although this version of Marshall pales in comparison to Slim Shady when it’s entertainment value that’s concerned, he is still miles ahead of whoever is on the radio at the moment. Eminem isn’t at fault for the album’s failiure. Denaun Porter, who allegedly produced all of Infinite, produces some impeccable but not very interesting imitations of what was popular in hiphop in ’96. Some east coast boom-bap, some west coast g-funk and even some TLC-styled faux-R&B on Tonite.
Nothing on here is unpleasant to listen to, nor is there anything that warrants many repeated listens. Everything is everything and lack of consistency certainly isn’t Infinite’s issue. I recommend this album to Marshall Mathers die hard fans only.
Never 2 Far
Marshall Mathers fanatics should check this out to get a glimpse of a younger Eminem who hadn’t quite found his voice yet. Casual music fans are best to skip this chapter of his career entirely. Although it isn’t entirely horrible it’s not exactly good either.