Today rapper Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem, turns 44 years old. With all of his success, his ultra-shock-value raps, over the top beef, and straight up genius-level pen game, it’s easy to forget his pre-slim shady gem, Infinite. Before the Dr. Dre cosigns, before Shady records, before the Rap Olympics — Em was a tongue-twisting emcee fully immersed in the early 90s [see golden era] hip-hop. His first project, Infinite, officially labeled as an EP, was (for those that missed it), a stark departure from the uninhibited, at times brutally raw (and humorous) Slim Shady that most fans fell in love with.
Production wise, the project was put together by D12 member Mr. Porter and the late Proof. The sound was — for the most part — cohesive and clean, and very much reflective of the era. Em was, as he described, “still figuring himself out.” Lyrically, he was a beast on this project, although the subject matter and actual flow/delivery weren’t yet the Em we got to know later on. He was widely criticized for sounding a lot like AZ, which was accurate (to a degree). His songs seemed to have a more optimistic output on life in general. He wasn’t yet a father, and clearly still was still in love with Kim, who we all famously know as the woman he and Haley threw in the river on the morbidly entertaining “Just The Two Of Us.” This album introduced us to a hungry 24-year old come-up rapper who wanted to pop off and give his girl(s) a better life. The only semblance of uber imaginative pseudo-Shady-esque rhyme schemes was on the record “Backstabber.” There are gems here, and bars for days — and maybe weeks.
The album has received a great deal of praise in hindsight, although it was widely shit on — for lack of a better term — by music journalists at the time. The failure led Em to take a more aggressive tone in his music. Sidebar, his ‘new style’ was infamously challenged by rapper Cage, who claimed Em bit his whole steeze. There was an ensuing beef, which Eminem pretty much bodied with a line on his record “Role Model“: “I bought Cage’s tape, opened it and dubbed over it.” I digress, though. The EP stands as a significant slice of hip-hop history; it is probably more accurate to take it as an early demo rather than a debut, as it was the precursor to one of hip-hop’s most revered names, and consistent top 5 DOA resident. As we wish Em a happy born day, let’s take a spin down memory lane and bump his classic intro to the game; it turns 20 this year!