How the Failure of 'Infinite' Turned Eminem Into Slim Shady - DJBooth

How the Failure of 'Infinite' Turned Eminem Into Slim Shady

This new documentary sheds light on a crucial chapter in Eminem's career.
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Eminem is currently gearing up to release his ninth studio album, but that isn’t all he’s got in store. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of his 1996 debut Infinite, Shady has dropped a remastered and revamped version of the project’s title track.

The “Infinite” remix, stripped down of its sample and replaced with live instrumentation, is produced the Bass Brothers, the Detroit production duo who discovered Marshall Mathers, released Infinite through their label, Web Entertainment, and went on to produce some of Em’s biggest hits, including “Lose Yourself, “Without Me” and “Beautiful.”

In addition to the remix, we’ve also got a new documentary called Partners In Rhyme: The True Story of Infinite, which chronicles the making of Eminem’s debut LP. The nine-minute film features old studio footage, as well as interviews with Shady and the Bass Brothers as they reflect on his precarious start in music.

The journey begins in the early ’90s at the Hip-Hop Shop, an open mic spot in Detroit made famous in 8 Mile, where a young Marshall Mathers began making a name for himself as the coldest white boy around. He soon landed on the Bass Brothers’ radar and started work on his first project.

“For me, Marshall was able to put rhymes together rhythmically that looked like a drum solo. He was able to change rhythms in the middle of his phrases. He had great metaphors,” Jeff Bass tellsRolling Stone. “Honestly, I had to turn to [Kevin Wilder] and say, ‘I think we should do this. Let’s go ahead and do it.’ And I laid it on him.”

However, it wasn’t long before Eminem’s bubble began to burst after Infinite flopped. “During that time, it seemed it was just crashing ’cause nobody was listening,” he recalls in the documentary. “I said, ‘this is the best thing I can do. If this doesn’t work, then it’s not gonna happen.’” Mark Bass adds, “We knew we had a real talent, but it was hard to bust through.”

The best part of the documentary isn’t just the nostalgia—it’s how Eminem was able to take failure on the chin and come back better than ever.

“Right, after the Infinite record we took a little bit of time off, and that’s when he came back with this little ‘Slim Shady’ tattoo on his arm,” Mark Bass recalls. Eminem says it was "shit happening in [his] life” that triggered his transformation. “The way I was rapping began to get more hostile,” he remembers. “So I started coming in with songs that was talking about overdosing on drugs and fuck life.”

The origin of the name Slim Shady is equally fascinating. “If you go back, I’m a co-producer on the Infinite album, and I’m listed as ‘Slim,’” Kevin Wilder reveals to Rolling Stone. “He walked into the [Bassment Sound] studio on Eight Mile, and he said, ‘I’m stealing your name!’ And I’m like, ‘go right ahead! You can have it ’cause I’m not going to do anything with it.’’

Slim Shady was officially born on 1997’s Slim Shady EP, which caught the ear of Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. Two years later, the project was revamped and released as Eminem’s major label debut via Aftermath/Interscope. The rest, as they say, is history.

It’s crazy to think that Eminem, the highest selling rapper of all time, was close to hanging up his mic after his first album flopped. It really does happen to the best of us. But as this documentary shows, Eminem’s artistic rebirth is a testament not only to his resilience but to the power of his just-don't-give-a-fuck attitude.

“It seemed like as soon as I stopped giving a fuck about what I was saying, people started giving a fuck,” Eminem says.

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By Andy James. Follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: YouTube

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