I mean, we can do two different artist seasons at once - and we're going to. Today see's the new season for legendary Detroit rapper, the most successful rapper of all time and in my opinion the greatest rapper ever - Eminem. We're starting with 1996's 'Infinite', and while it wasn't a studio release - it was still a key part of his career and I feel it would be fitting to start where it all began, way before the fame and the fortune.
The quality of the production isn't great (I mean Em was literally poverty stricken at this point), but the boom-bap production style is still decent overall with some catchy drum patterns. It's nothing crazy but it also isn't bad. The track 'Tonite' has a very catchy and glossy rap beat, as Em talks on his rapping abilities, competition and women. Em's rhyme scheme is great on this track, as well as his wordplay and one liners, "Come to battle me and you get smacked as hard as you act". It has a catchy hook and a great flow but just feels a bit watered down for an Eminem song. The boom bap beat on the track 'Open Mic' is the best on the album because it's just so catchy, as is Thyme's hook which is entertaining as his comical delivery works perfectly for the vibe of the track. The whole song is based around a battle rap at the mic shop, so of course Em comes with some classic punchlines and wordplay, "You couldn't flip shit playin' in toilets with a spatula". An entertaining song, and one of my favourite on this album.
Em himself was crazy good skill wise - his rhyme schemes and ability to rhyme are unparalleled. All throughout this project he shows off different skills - punchlines, wordplay, introspection and storytelling just to name a few. We see Em's wordplay straight from the opening track 'Infinite', "This is the season for noise pollution contamination // Examination of more car-tunes than animation". The whole track is full of great punchlines and wordplay as well as an insane rhyme scheme as he brags about his rap ability. This song is a great introduction to Eminem's skill, and the song itself is catchy and honestly is a real high in Eminem's career. His storytelling is shown in the STD-themed track 'Maxine', as the song follows the story of a girl who has all kinds of diseases including AIDs as the rappers try to sleep with her. The song features dEnAun who's performance actually was pretty bad, he didn't push the narrative along really and felt out of place, while Detroit rapper Three had some funny lines, a comical delivery and he kept the story going, "Before I hit it she said: "3, don't get mad // But there's somethin' that I gotta tell your ass" // I said "What is it? Another n****? It's okay" // She said: "No I forgot to tell you // That I got AIDS, I got a problem"". It's a good song, it would've been better if Mr. Porter kept the narrative going. Em didn't have the fury or aggression in his delivery that he'd grow to have, and despite his flow being smooth it was very reminiscent of AZ and Nas at the time - and he was really yet to come into his own lane. 'Backstabber' also provides a funny story, as Em talks on a backstabber who's escaped from a mental hospital and is on the loose to steal rappers girlfriends. This song showcases both Em's storytelling and hard one liners/bars, such as when he says, "Dealing with backstabbers, there was one thing I learned // They're only powerful when you got your back turned". The catchy animated boom bap beat helps push the story along, it's not as vivid as other storytelling tracks and doesn't have as much of a climax but it's decent nevertheless.
The features are pretty good overall, they're all upcoming rappers and musicians who sound hungry for success like Em. On the song 'It's O.K.' we get an Eye-Kyu feature who provides a catchy hook over this bouncy yet light boom bap beat, as Em gets hopeful and introspective talking about his problems in life but believing everything will be alright - a decent song, but doesn't have the personality to make it any better or pull at our heart strings. Eye also joins Em on '313' and gives us a verse with some great punchlines and bars this time, "With the mic I’m like a dyke, can’t no n**** fuck with this". Em himself does well with his entendres and wordplay, "You can be Run-D, you’ll never be the MC // I stopped the alphabet at S and got it down to a T", as they just talk in a battle rap kind of manner over this casual boom bap beat. Em kills his verse, the hook is pretty catchy and therefore it's a good song. The only 'pop' feature on the project comes from Angela Workman who performs the hook on 'Searchin'', and her vocals are great and the hook is fairly catchy to an extent while dEnAun provides a decent enough verse. The track is a casual love song but it comes off a bit corny - especially for an Eminem song. The light hearted boom bap beat is nice, but it's just a cheesy love song that doesn't feel right - it's listenable but not gripping or interesting. The only feature who really disappoints on this album is dEnAun on 'Maxine', just because he doesn't push the narrative along and while the rest may not be as good as Em - their presence is definitely felt on the track.
As for content, a lot of the songs come off as a battle rap type track with him boasting his superior rap skills - such as the previously mentioned '313'. Em does tell stories throughout this project as well, such as on the finale to the album 'Jealousy Woes II'. The track just focuses on the breakdown of a relationship as the girl (possibly Kim) becomes jealous after the breakup due to the fact Em has more money now. The comical "mwoab" beat is alright, and while the song is decent once again it's not too overly interesting as a story. He also can get emotional and more personal in other tracks, such as on the song 'Never 2 Far' as he talks on his personal struggles and the motivation that his struggles bring to pursue his dreams. The beat is catchy, as is the hook and Em's flow and rhyme schemes are both solid. The track brings a smile to your face and is one of the best songs on the album no doubt. We learn some things about Em in this project, but we don't get as much as an introduction as I would have liked for his life. Luckily, future albums from him would bring a proper introduction to the polarising character that is Eminem.
To conclude, Em's debut album is a good start to his career. He sounds hungry to make it, and his skill is there for everybody to see - even if he was rhyming for no reason at times. It lacked originality at times, but his potential was there for everybody to see. The only other issue was there wasn't really much personality behind the music, it's definitely enjoyable and has good songs, but the Slim Shady persona he'd grow into on his first studio album definitely took him up to the next level.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Infinite, Tonite, 313, Maxine, Open Mic, Never 2 Far
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Searchin'
OVERALL RATING: Light 7.5/10