Saturday, 20 January 2018

Eminem "Infinite" (1996)

Back at the turn of the millennium during the infancy of the Internet, Eminem's debut LP "Infinite" was somewhat of an urban myth, listed on underground websites yet not acknowledged by the rapper himself. Thanks to the emergence of peer to peer sharing, this record could reach many curious fans, surpassing the reach of its limited print. With only a thousand vinyl copies produced it has become a collectors relic, with many bootlegs appearing for sale on auction websites. Of course today you can probably just jump onto youtube and hear it within seconds compared to the days of MP3 sharing on Napster I had endured to hear this gem of a record.

There's a novelty factor to hearing the prolific rapper at a younger age, noticeable in the higher pitch of his voice. At twenty four his talent was already a bright star shining and so swiftly does that novelty wear off as his flows and rhyme schemes lock you in for a smooth ride along his effortless raps that can change pace and switch rhythm mid sentence. At this stage in his career Em had yet to birth the Slim Shady character and so the rhymes drop with a lack of swearing, violence and vile energy. Its endearing of his natural ability as he spits clever, witty instances of rhyme and wordplay with an expansive vocabulary. It may require a dictionary to keep up with the word meanings he swiftly stacks on top of one another. Its almost a crutch at times, frequently using this double rhyming in practically every verse. Otherwise its an impressive performance with Em infrequently cursing.
Infinite is an intentionally friendly, accessible record and that may ultimately seem as its downfall but the reality is its final stretch of songs from, "Never 2 Far" to "Jelousy Woes II" tend to drop off from the strong opening tracks. The albums production also falls a couple years behind the trend curb, aiming for those warm fuzzy Hip Hop vibes the likes of Nas's Illmatic peaked with in the early nineties. Em even samples and references rhymes from Illamtic and sounds a fair bit like rapper AZ who backed up Nas on that classic record. Its a clear inspiration for Infinite and the first few songs get the vibe just right with Jazzy samples and tight grooves however the quality is sub par. Instrumentally everything is a little muddy and gloomy despite having an uplifting mood. It doesn't hold back Em, or the songs themselves but by the time the last four tracks roll around its outstayed its welcome.

Its obvious now why this record didn't launch Eminem's career, for all the technical prowess and undeniable talent, he had yet to carve a character, a niche that would stand him apart in a crowd. Attempting to get radio play on a flawed production it ultimately ended up in this being a complete flop but now its an absolutely treat for Eminem fans to enjoy the world over. If your a fan, give it a listen, Ems rhymes are dynamite and carry it far, there arn't many rappers that could make a flawed concept sound so good.

Favorite Tracks: Infinite, Its Ok, Tonite, Open Mic
Rating: 6/10