Review Summary: An excellent and criminally underrated debut that gives the listener a different perspective on Marshall Mathers.
It’s always interesting to hear people complain about how badly Eminem has fallen off. Aside from his decrease in lyrical skill and creativity, the chief complaint always seems to be that he's "not being true to himself" because of his dramatically toned down content. According to these people, Eminem's true self is the crazed and psychotic "Slim Shady" that dominated both the Slim Shady and The Marshall Mathers LP. Yet they might have a different opinion after listening to Infinite. With little money and promotion Em released the album out of the trunk of his car back in 96. The album was a flop, barely selling anything and generating accusations that Em was biting off of Nas and AZ. The failure of the album had a significant impact on both Em’s career and his personal life as he contemplated suicide because of it. It also was the foundation of the anger, bitterness, and rage that led to the creation of the Slim Shady persona. Em used this image to shock and entertain and the rest of course is history. Em’s career blew up and Infinite was long forgotten. While today the few people who have listened to it give it more respect than it initially received, Em’s debut is hardly ever held in the same esteem as his first two commercial albums. This is upsetting to me because from a lyrical standpoint, I truly believe that Infinite is just as good if not better than any of his commercial work. True hip hop fans who appreciate raw lyricism need to check it out. Before you do though, be warned. Infinite is mainly a lyrically driven album. The lack of money that Em had while making it can be heard in the lackluster beats and sound quality. It took me awhile to get used to it when I first heard it. But after giving it many listens, I was able to appreciate the simplicity and subtlety of the production. Like the Rza’s earliest work, the production has a “less is more” philosophy and the stripped down beats serve as a good contrast to the intense lyrics that Em spits. Still, I can understand if you’re not feeling the production. What is undeniable however, is the lyrical fire that Em brings on this.
The title track has a slow build. Soft pianos are heard and Em introduces himself and what he represents. Then the snare hits and the song goes into full gear. Em then precedes to spit some of the most clever and mind boggling lyrics I’ve ever heard from any rapper. Here’s a little sample.
“Imitator intimidator, stimulator, simulator of data, eliminator, there’s never been a greater, since the burial of Jesus, *** around and catch all the venereal diseases, my thesis will smash a stereo to pieces, my accapella releases, classic masterpieces through telekinesis, that eases you mentally, gently, sentimentally, instrumentally, with entity, dementedly, meant to be, infinite.” Wow. Just look at all the internal rhymes and multis. Incredible. Not only the best song on the album but one of the best songs of Eminem’s entire career.
Nothing substantial here. Kind of a pointless skit introducing the next song. Its Proof that does the introduction though.
In my opinion, this song has the best production on the whole album. A very soothing and laid back beat. Its in this song that you realize just how different Eminem’s whole persona and mind set was on this album. He talks about the struggles of his life. But rather then express anger and violence he expresses hope for the future. He talks about his love for his daughter AND his wife. Yes, he actually says something nice about Kim. And there’s even more of that later. There’s one line here that really emphasizes the dramatic change that he’d eventually go through though. “And in the midst of this insanity, I found my Christianity, and through God, there’s a wish he granted me.” Who would’ve thought that the man who would evilly corrupt the minds of little boys and girls was a self professed Christian? Makes you realize the ridiculousness of taking the whole Slim Shady character seriously.
The most commercial song on the album, basically a typical party song except with weaker production and MUCH stronger lyricism. Em’s flow on this is on point and he drops some nice punchlines. “You couldn’t see me with binoculars, I’m armed like an Octupus, step on stage and you’ll get socked and pushed”
This song is pretty substantial. It features an underground Detroit rapper named Eye-Kyu. What’s so amazing about it is that it might just be the only song I’ve ever heard where Eminem gets upstaged by a guest rapper. I wont say that Em gets murdered because he holds his own. But this Eye-Kyu dude(has anyone heard other stuff from him?) spits some of the most ridiculous *** that I’ve heard in awhile. “Forgot a gold digger's succubus , my souls thick with ruggedness, with the mic I'm like a dyke, can't no nigga *** with this.” Some other superb bars from his verse? “To represent my temperament, If rap was a dick all you so called hard MC's would not be impotent.” And finally, my personal favorite, “Everything that you collaborate I lacerate, my rhymes they keep coming like nympho maniacs that masturbate.” So yeah, he pretty much kills it and he definitely outshines Em. But Em does have one line that had me laughing for a good minute. “Cuz you can be quick, jump a candle stick and burn your back, and *** Jill on a hill, but you still aint Jack.”
Not really feeling this song. Em has a nice verse but the song is brought down by the guest rappers. One of them is Denaun Porter aka Kon Artist of D12. Its basically a cautionary tale about a promiscuous woman.
Another lyrically amazing battle track from Em. Once again, production is lacking and the chorus from some underground emcee named Thyme is annoying. But Eminem makes up for it by completely murdering the track with incredible rhymes showcasing his battle rap background.
Never 2 Far
This song is basically the prequel to Lose Yourself. A very inspirational track that shows Eminem at his most hopeful and optimistic.
I couldn’t even believe this song when I first heard it. Its pretty much the anti-Kim. It’s actually a love song dedicated to her. And there are no gimmicks. Its just a straightforward love song. Yet another song that’ll make you wonder if Eminem really made the album.
Didn’t really like this song. The beat is weak. Em’s rhymes are good(he pretty much spits amazingly on every track) but the content and concept is lacking. The title is self-explanatory. Em rants for awhile about backstabbers.
Jealousy Woes II
Decent but definitely the wrong song to end the album with it. The album starts off so strongly with its two best tracks back to back, has a consistent middle, and then slowly declines toward the end. Its basically a song about Eminem complaining about a particularly jealous woman.
To conclude, if the album had better production and better song order I would’ve considered it a classic. Lyrically I think it ranks up there with the legendary lyrical albums. And its interesting to think about the direction that Em’s career would’ve gone in if this album hadn’t bombed. Once again, this is a must have for any Eminem fan and any hip hop fan in general.