I was struggling to work out which album from the past to review for this weeks #ThrowbackThursday, and twitter wasn’t all too much help, suggesting albums from De La Soul and Slick Rick that I’m not all too familiar with. Whilst “The Adventures Of Slick Rick” will be scrutinised in due course, I’ve a limited time this week and consequently something that I wouldn’t even necessarily need to give a spin was the intentions for the time being. Then, thanks to the wonderfully cringeworthy Timehop app, I was alerted that exactly one year ago today, my physical copy of Eminem‘s “Infinite” album was delivered through my post box.
The album is something of a forgotten gem, that sounds immensely foreign to the Slim Shady style that allowed Marshall Mathers to attain the worlds attention and become the biggest selling artist of the noughties. It throws more parallels to Mac Miller, or at the time AZ apparently, than it does Eminem, with the lack of emphatic enunciation and deficit in jaw-dropping, shock-rap lyricism. Yet, the skill was prevalent as ever.
On almost every song of “Infinite” from the title track opener to the “Jealousy Woes” closer, there’s a distinct goal of creating complex rhyming patterns with internals and multi’s in abundance. The wordplay is neither better, nor worse, than the Eminem of “Slim Shady LP” and “Marshall Mathers LP“, despite those respective albums consisting of stronger, more controversial, content – of which, only “Maxine” truly lives up to any kind of expectation on the underacknowledged debut album from one of the greatest rappers of all time.
The features are almost as underwhelming, as the fanfare “Infinite” receives. With Eye-Kyu, Mr. Porter (credited as producer for every song, too), Three and Thyme each contributing verses, and Proof being heard on the “W.E.G.O” interlude skit, at the time, this was the equivalent of a struggle rapper, rounding up favours from friends to feature on his record. Whilst their names alone aren’t, or weren’t, buzz worthy, what they lack in notoriety, they make up for in talent. In fact, “Infinite” may be the only album in which Eminem, the “Renegade” man himself, was given a taste of his own medicine, and a guest feature stole the spotlight on Marshall’s album. On “313“, easily one of my favourite Eminem songs of all time, Eye-Kyu delivered a verse that was a cut above any of the other guest contributors, or even the King of Controversies efforts on this album.
In his biography, Marshall states “Obviously, I was young and influenced by other artists, and I got a lot of feedback saying that I sounded like AZ. Infinite was me trying to figure out how I wanted my rap style to be, how I wanted to sound on the mic and present myself. It was a growing stage. I felt like Infinite was like a demo that just got pressed up.” Whilst it may not be on the same level of the three albums that it precedes, neither do the three albums that succeed them – and in hindsight, I do believe “Infinite” deserved (and deserves) a lot more respect.