Eminem- "Infinite"

The best emcees let us view multiple sides of their persona through a wide variety of songs.  The best artists aren't one-dimensional.  They don't purely battle rap (Mobb Deep, DMX) or generate pop hits (Diddy if you can even consider him a rapper rather than a cancerous growth on hip hop).  Likewise, the best rappers don't solely write songs complaining about the state of hip hop (Macklemore, as much as I love him) or party anthems (Asher Roth along with most other one-hit wonders in the game today).  If you look at Jay-Z, he isn't considered one of the best rappers of all time solely for his battle raps ("Takeover"), pop hits ("Hard Knock Life," "Dirt Off Your Shoulders," too many to list), street hits ("No Hook," "What More Can I Say," "Dead Presidents"), or the songs which catch him at his most introspective ("Regrets," "Song Cry," "Moment of Clarity").  He is known as one of the greatest rappers ever, not because of these individual songs, but because of the depth of his catalog and his ability to create a wide variety of hands down classic songs.

Perhaps the poster child for the multi-dimensional MC is Eminem.  Everyone knows his dueling Marshall Mathers/Slim Shady personas, but it goes deeper than that.  There is the over the top violent Eminem ("Kim," "Amityville"), the drug addled Eminem (most of Relapse), the pop Eminem ("My Name Is," "The Real Slim Shady"), and battle rap Eminem (my personal favorite).  Most of these fall under the umbrella of Eminem's Slim Shady persona, an over the top violent drug addeld character that parodies American politically correct society, but there is a softer side to Eminem that people often overlook when viewing this controversial superstar.  Some of my favorite Eminem songs catch him at his most desperate moments ("If I Had"), critical ("Stan," "Renegade," "Sing For the Moment"), or introspective ("Beautiful," "Mockingbird").  The one thing that remains constant through all of these varying styles is Eminem's incredible lyrical gift, imagery, and sense of humor.

This song comes off of Eminem's 1996 underground LP of the same name.  It catches Mathers at a moment in his career where he had yet to find his niche in hip hop and it is very toned down compared the the Eminem that we are used to.  Though he sounds much younger and unrefined it is amazing to see that, even at this point in his career, the raw talent and lyrical prowess of the man is simply undeniable.  Enjoy.

I'm Infinite,
You heard of Hell, well I was sent from it,
I went to it for serving a sentence for murdering instruments,
Now I'm trying to repent for it,
But when I hear the beat I'm tempted to make another attempt at it...
I'm Infinite.

(Also, check this pic of Em circa 1991.  It was too good to pass up on.)

Eminem - "Infinite"

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