Review Summary: An easily underrated breakthrough in rap and hip-hop.
You know, whenever talk about a certain type of music comes up, there's artists everyone can talk about. When it comes to alternative, people think Radiohead, R.E.M., and Oasis. For metal, there's Metallica, Megadeth, and Judas Priest. For pop, The Beatles. And so on. When it comes to rap, though, there seems to be one name really mentioned: Eminem. Marshall Mathers the 3rd. The biggest man in hip-hop. Won 13 Grammys, made the fastest-selling solo album of all time, and has become the most powerful solo artist in the last decade. Case in point, it's not hard to see why he's so popular. Eminem's first three albums, The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP, and The Eminem Show, are quite possibly the biggest rap albums of all time. But it seems that one key point in Em's career, the one album that helped save the now-brilliant rapper: the underrated, bombed Infinite.
Originally, Infinite was self-released on 1,000 cassettes and 100 vinyl records, to mixed reviews. And it would of been laughed straight out of the community if it weren't for the following album, Slim Shady LP. This is why The Slim Shady LP is considered the first album: Infinite was never released officially, only on bootleg combat disk versions. It's a shame this has been forgotten: Infinite could be Eminem's best work.
What's unique about Infinite is the vocabulary. Unlike the several fantasy acts of over-the-top violence, overly coarse profanity, sexual acts, and drug use that could make Ozzy Osbourne wince, Infinite is all about expansive and intellectual rhyming. "My accapella releases plastic masterpieces through telekinesis / And eases you mentally, gently, sentimentally, instrumentally / With entity, dementedly meant to be Infinite" How he came up with this is beyond me, but it's all very unique.
And Infinite is different. "Searchin" is, prepare yourself MM LP fans, a love song to KIM. Yeah, that's a real shocker. The raps are indefinitely more calmed down that compared to the MM LP or SS LP. Although it was the violence and descriptive language that made Eminem a major star, Infinite is a superb album because it's a break from everything, when you're tired of hearing about his mom, when you're tired of him hating Kim, when you're tired of the Recovery hype, Infinite is a clever album. And the guest stars from D12 (not to mention rapper Three) are really, really good. Unlike in the later albums, where you could have the songs without said guest stars (like 'Remember Me' and 'Amityville' from MM LP), but D12 is arguably as good as they have been. Even listening to the pointless skit, "W.E.G.O." is important, because it features Proof, another man that died from a killing. Eye Kyu's verses and lyrical fire in "313" are some of the best in D12's career.
And the rhymes and lyrical power in Infinite are strangely true-to-life. It's OK sings about Em's troubles in life as he pushes forward, Never 2 Far raps about troubles with money and being poor (which was right before he became a millionaire), and Infinite is just rapping. Rapping because he's got nothing else to do. So, strangely, Infinite is full of different angles to view it from. Balance is what makes Infinite good, because, unlike Encore and Relapse, which were all over the place with random raps and pointless ideas (singing about Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey, really?), Infinite has a key factor to it that pushes it through. This isn't an album where somebody just badly raps about women and drugs 15 times in the span of an hour and calls it an LP. Infinite's different, singing about different kinds of values.
Still, Infinite's hard to find. If you don't have a cassette or grammophone, you're somewhat out of luck. Finding it on compact disk, you might have a chance, but it's as rare as a good Vanilla Ice rap (burned). Infinite, though, is an absolutely astounding debut, for someone that was still finding their tune, and inspired by 2pac, AZ, and Nas. It's a different perspective from Marshall Mather's usual beat, and a good one at that. Recommended.
And just saying, you should probably chill your shit a bit regarding people getting in non-constructive arguments on your review. Yeah, it might be a tad bit annoying, but it keeps your review thread bumped on the main page, meaning more people are going to see your writing which is pretty obviously what you want here. Alright, that's all from me.
Alec, it seems you are a very capable writer and I fully understand your desire to improve on this site. And of course comments arguing rap vs. hip hop and equally bullshit semantics are tiresome and pointless...still, try to take it a little less seriously. People here will see your work and will comment/criticize on it as they deem fitting. Incessantly prodding them to do so, however, makes you as much of a nuisance as those who argue genre differences on reviews. I hope you're catching my drift. Take care, Alec. I am now moving on to more pressing topics, namely this research paper on the Bretton Woods Agreements of 1944. Ta-ta old sport.
How much rap have you listened to? I don't want to sound condescending or anything but the tone of this review suggests that you aren't well versed in the genre. You correctly name influences at the end, but then saying it's a breakthrough is patently false. If you mean breakthrough as the debut album from a rapper where he "broke" into the rap game then yes but the word is more commonly applied to revolutions and is the definition we all assume. This album is not a revolution in any way.
Also, the sentence, "But it seems that one key point in Em's career, the one album that helped save the now-brilliant rapper: the underrated, bombed Infinite." doesn't make much sense. It seems that this key point did what? And how did it "save" him?
Besides those more semantic criticisms, I think you should take time to describe the beats on this album. They are the obvious weak point of the album, and not mentioning them makes the review seem a bit biased. Just because you give the album a high score it doesn't mean you can't mention the faults as well.
Finally, I suggest taking out those "as opposed to those other materialistic rappers" kind of statements. They make you seem juvenile, as if you haven't really versed yourself in the genre and dismiss a whole section of rap music.
I quite liked the review besides those points. Definitely an album that's remarkable in studying the evolution of a young rapper. It's interesting how in the course of just a few years, this Eminem who has obvious talent but is not really doing much with it (i.e. technical proficiency but no real personality or direction) morphed into a much less technical rapper who emphasized themes more than this technicality.