|Studio album by|
|Released||November 12, 1996|
|Recorded||December 1995 - June 1996|
Infinite is the debut studio album by American rapper Eminem. It was released on November 12, 1996, through Web Entertainment. Recording sessions took place at the Bass Brothers' studio, with production handled by Mr. Porter and Eminem himself. The album features guest vocals from fellow rappers Proof, Mr. Porter, Eye-Kyu, Three, and Thyme, as well as singer Angela Workman.
Physical copies of Infinite were released on cassette and vinyl, and Eminem sold the copies from the trunk of his car in Detroit. It is not officially available on any online music stores and only the title track "Infinite" has been made available on Spotify. On November 17, 2016, five days after the 20th anniversary of the album, Eminem posted a remix of the title track that was remastered, made by the Bass Brothers, to his Vevo channel, releasing it digitally for the first time. Retrospectively, the former received mixed reviews from music critics, it was a commercial failure, selling around 1,000 copies. They are highly valued since the album was made before Eminem was signed to Interscope and Aftermath.
Background and recording
I was driving in my car back in '95 or '96 and heard him on the radio. It was like, "Whoa, who is this?" He was doing an open mic with [WJLB-FM programmer Lisa Orlando] in Detroit. And I was like, "Wow, who is this kid? I've gotta get him over to the studio." That's when I called out to the radio station and asked, "Put me on the phone with the guy."
In 1992, Eminem signed with FBT Productions, which had been run by Jeff and Mark Bass; they are known as the Bass Brothers. Eminem also held a minimum-wage job that involved cooking and washing dishes at Gilbert's Lodge restaurant in St. Clair Shores for some time. Inspired by Tupac's Me Against the World album and Nas's Illmatic, Eminem began writing Infinite. After the birth of his daughter Hailie, 23-year old Eminem headed to the Bass Brothers basement to record the album. The album was completed by the summer of 1996 and was  released on Web Entertainment in the fall.
Composition and lyrics
Eminem purposely made Infinite's songs "radio-friendly" in hopes of getting played on Detroit radio stations; only around a thousand copies of the album were made. Subjects covered on Infinite included Eminem, him and his grandma's struggle with raising Hailie Jade Mathers, Eminem's newborn daughter, while on limited funds and his strong desire to become rich. After the release of Infinite, Eminem's personal struggles and as well as his abuse of drugs and alcohol resulted in a suicide attempt. Eminem recalled: "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 the demo that just got pressed up."
Release and reception
On November 12, 1996, Infinite was released by Web Entertainment. It is not known exactly how many copies Infinite exactly sold. Eminem stated in his autobiography The Way I Am (2008) that it sold "maybe 70 copies". However, other sources stated that the album sold a few hundred copies or even a thousand copies. Eminem's overall disappointment with Infinite's lack of success inspired him to develop his famous Slim Shady alter ego, which became present in his later works.
On May 14, 2009, thisis50.com re-released it for free download on their website to build anticipation for Eminem's sixth studio album Relapse (2009); this was his comeback album. On November 17, 2016, a remix of the album's title track "Infinite" was released in commemoration of the album's 20th anniversary five days after the event. The remix was followed by a documentary about the making of Infinite, also released the same day.
Retrospective reviews of Infinite from music critics were mixed. AllMusic gave it an "Editor Score" of 2.5 out of 5 stars, without a review. Rob Kenner of Complex gave the album a mixed review, saying Eminem "has yet to develop his own distinctive style", and that it was a "competent but unremarkable effort". Mosi Reeves from Rolling Stone stated, that "Probably the most surprising thing on Infinite is hearing [Eminem] rap, 'In the midst of this insanity, I found my Christianity through God' on 'It's O.K.'", noting that spiritual elements had not played a large role in his later works' lyrics. In a more positive review, Tedd Maider of Consequence of Sound describes Infinite as "a more genuine glimpse of the rapper that is Eminem", and commented that it is "quick-witted and unique rhyming", "lyrical chops, raw style beats, and mentality" could only be matched by his third studio album The Marshall Mathers LP (2000).
|2.||"W.E.G.O. (Interlude)" (skit; performed by Proof and DJ Head)||0:26|
|3.||"It's O.K." (featuring Eye-Kyu)||3:29|
|5.||"313" (featuring Eye-Kyu)||4:11|
|6.||"Maxine" (featuring Mr. Porter and Three)||3:55|
|7.||"Open Mic" (featuring Thyme)||4:02|
|8.||"Never 2 Far"||3:38|
|9.||"Searchin'" (featuring Mr. Porter and Angela Workman)||3:45|
|11.||"Jealousy Woes II"||3:19|
- ^[a] signifies a co-producer
- "Infinite" contains a sample of "Hot Wind" performed by Les Baxter.
- "Tonite" contains a sample of "Let This River Flow" performed by Googie and Tom Cappola.
- "313" contains a sample of "A Secret Place" performed by Grover Washington Jr.
- "Maxine" contains a sample of "Dolphin Dance" performed by Grover Washington, Jr.
- "Open Mic" contains a sample of "Give Me Your Love (Love Song)" performed by Curtis Mayfield, and "World Go Round" performed by Naughty by Nature.
- "Never 2 Far" contains a sample of "Right on Time" performed by Maze.
- "Searchin'" contains a sample of "The Dude" performed by Quincy Jones.
- "Backstabber" contains samples of "Fuckin' Backstabber" performed by Soul Intent, "Jealous" performed by LL Cool J, and "Get Down" performed by Craig Mack.
- "Jealousy Woes II" contains samples of "Say What" performed by Idris Muhammad, "Jealous" performed by LL Cool J, and "The World Is Yours" performed by Nas.
Credits adapted from album booklet.
- Eminem – vocals, production
- Kevin Wilder – mixing, recording
- Robert "Flipside" Handy – mixing, recording
- Mr. Porter – production
- Jeff Bass – executive production
- Mark Bass – executive production
- DJ Butter Fingers – scratches
- James, Andy. "How the Failure of 'Infinite' Turned Eminem Into Slim Shady". DJBooth. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
- Reeves, Mosi (November 17, 2016). "Eminem's 'Infinite': Producers Revisit, Remix MC's Inauspicious Debut". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
- Bozza, Anthony (2003). Whatever You Say I Am: The Life and Times of Eminem. New York, New York, United States: Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 1-4000-5059-6.
- Rodriguez, Jayson (May 13, 2009). "Eminem's First Album, Infinite, Now Available For Download". MTV. MTV. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
- "Eminem biography". Eminem.com. Archived from the original on February 13, 2008. Retrieved June 19, 2008.
- Ryon, Sean (April 21, 2012). "Mr. Porter Talks Debut Album "tHe mEmO," Eminem's First Album "Infinite"". HipHopDX. IPC Media. Archived from the original on April 4, 2013. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
- Padania, Jesal "Jay Soul" (August 12, 2008). "Eminem: Infinite". RapReviews. Archived from the original on April 4, 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
- Ankeny, Jason; Torreano, Bradley. "Eminem – Biography". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved January 30, 2008.
- Michaels, Sean (May 14, 2009). "Eminem's rare debut available for free download". The Guardian. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
- "Eminem Total Albums Sold". Brain. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
- "Eminem's rare debut album released free online". NME. May 14, 2009. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
- "Infinite - Eminem". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
- Padania, Jesal (August 12, 2008). "Eminem :: Infinite :: Web Records". RapReviews. Archived from the original on April 4, 2013. Retrieved February 19, 2010.
- Kenner, Rob (November 12, 2013). "Eminem "Infinite" (1996)". Complex. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
- Maider, Tedd (December 13, 2009). "Dusting 'Em Off: Eminem – Infinite". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
- Infinite (Media notes). Eminem. United States: Web Entertainment. 1996. 0382556977426.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)