Now Eminem is far more Rap God than struggle rapper just trying to make it out of the trailer park. Now saying that Eminem sounds like Nas is the kind of insane comparison that would get you kicked out of any respectable hip-hop conversation. Now Infinite is the album Eminem fans use to "Well, actually" anyone who says that the Slim Shady LP was his debut, an album that's a must-have for any true fan.
But that wasn't always the case. As the man himself wrote in a Genius annotation for Infinite:
When we put Infinite out, it was local. We pressed up under a thousand, initially. We expected we’d be able to get something with it, though. When that didn’t happen, it was really deflating. People were saying that I sounded like AZ and Nas. I was upset. Not to say that I didn’t love AZ and Nas, but for a rapper to be compared to someone, for people to say that you sound like someone else — nobody wants that. I had to go back to the drawing board. So I remember getting mad. I was like, “I’m gonna rap like I don’t care anymore. Fuck it.” I started to write angry songs like “Just Don’t Give a Fuck.”
After I read that quote I tried to hear Nas, Eminem and AZ in my head and picture anyone saying they sounded alike and just couldn't. They aren't just different artists in my mind, in terms of style they might as well be from different planets. But I did some digging and discovered that in particular, the knock on Em at the time was that "Infinite" sounded a lot like AZ' "Rather Unique," and you know that? They kind of have a point:
As upsetting as those comparisons obviously were for Eminem though, especially in conjunction with Infinite the album failing to really make waves, it was ultimately a good thing. It pushed him to create a sound so uniquely his he could never be accused of biting someone else, and that's exactly what caught Dr. Dre's ear, that's exactly what blew him up, and that's exactly why he's now a hip-hop legend.
There's no victory without struggle. So even now that he reigns supreme, never forget that Eminem was once a struggle rapper developing his own sound and feeling deflated by what felt like early losses. If you prick a rap god, does he not bleed?