Toronto, ON – In the mid to late 90’s, Rexdale artist Infinite was putting out popular singles like “Gotta Get Mine” which featured one of the first appearances from R&B singer Divine Brown and “360” which further introduced a relatively unknown Jully Black. Both songs remain staples in Canadian hip-hop history along with a gang of other Infinite songs including the award winning “Take A Look” and “E-Z On Tha Motion” which Infinite released earlier in his career with his former group, Ghetto Concept. Infinite left the group in 1995 after his brother was murdered. In 1997, he re-emerged as a solo artist and released the 360 EP which has been hailed as a classic release by fans around the world.
Aside from a highly acclaimed single featuring Maestro and Gowan, “Criminal Mind”, Infinite had taken a step back from publicly releasing music and left many fans worried that he had hung up the mic for good. But, from landing roles in movies to working steadily in the studio, fans will be happy to know that Infinite is looking to make a noticeable impact with the upcoming release of his album, Untold.
When we found out Infinite was working on this new project we knew we had to make that connection and let our viewers know where he had been at; Infinite is making a return. Untold is a fitting title for the new album since much of his story over the past years has been unknown to his followers. Regardless, Infinite has remained a fan favourite amongst seasoned Canadian hip-hop heads and international audiences alike and we are happy to help him get his story out there.
So, without further ado . .
HipHopCanada: Infinite, thanks for taking the time to speak with me. I generally like to get into some background questions before asking about anything current. So let’s get right into it: the biggest question on people’s minds is why the hiatus? Can you speak on what you’ve been up to?
Infinite: Taking the hiatus was probably the best thing for me because due to some minor setbacks I had to step back from the music scene. I started losing people that were around me because of gang violence and other struggles that were challenging us at the time. I was drawn into the events that went down in my hood. Almost having to do 14 years in prison, I was given another chance. I’m honoured to bless my supporters with an album.
HipHopCanada: From everything I’ve read and heard, you decided to leave Ghetto Concept (GC) after the tragic passing of your brother. Can you elaborate on that for us? Why did you leave the group?
Infinite: Before my brother got killed he would always tell me that if I went solo he would help push me all the way. When he got killed, I wanted to follow that dream of becoming a solo artist for the both of us.
HipHopCanada: What was the difference between being part of a group of artists and being a solo artist?
Infinite: In the group there were three of us and so there were three points of view needing to be expressed on a track, which I felt, wasn’t enough for me. I think being in a group was a good thing for me ’cause I learned how to work with people. As a solo artist I get all the time I need to express myself.
HipHopCanada: What’s your relationship with GC today?
Infinite: Everybody is cool. Respect will always be there because of our history.
HipHopCanada: What was growing up in Rexdale like?
Infinite: It was a struggle growing up in Rexdale. It was harder for some people and easier for the rest of us because of the reputation that some of us had. I saw a lot of things in Rexdale that you wouldn’t see in just any other hood. With a lot of gun and gang violence, you had no choice but to be tough.
HipHopCanada: Going back to Rap Essentials Volume 2… People speak of the impact the Rap Essentials compilations had on the Canadian scene. For someone who was there and had the lead single, can you describe your involvement?
Infinite: I was in the studio recording “Gotta Get Mine” and the A&R from Beat Factory just happened to be in the studio and heard the song and he asked me if that could be added to the compilation and used as the lead single.
HipHopCanada: You have a lot of classic records like “Gotta Get Mine”, which featured Divine Brown, “360” featuring Jully Black and “Take A Look”. Most Canadian hip-hop heads are familiar with these records but I’m constantly seeing that these songs had a big international reach as well. How far have these tracks gotten? Could you describe the vibe you were on at the time and the significance of these songs looking back? Let’s start with “Gotta Get Mine”.
Infinite: These songs reached from North America, to Europe to Asia and back! The 360 EP is being sold for crazy money on Amazon to this day. “Gotta Get Mine” is making sales on iTunes from all over the world and the rest of this EP will be available on iTunes too in January 2009 because people are still asking for it. When I did those tracks, I was actually going through a lot of the things that I mentioned within them. To me those tracks were as significant as a track that could live long like a Bob Marley track. Songs that will never be out dated because of the lyrical content. Bob Marley’s tracks are still up to the time, because everything Bob’s talking about is still going on to this day.
HipHopCanada: “360”… were you the first person to put Jully Black on?
Infinite: No, she was involved in other projects before mine.
HipHopCanada: How about “Take A Look”… which won you MuchMusic Video Awards.
Infinite: By the time “Take A Look” came out, people were already familiar with who I was and so it was easier to get more radio airplay and video rotations. It won me two Much Music Video Awards.
HipHopCanada: Let’s get into a more current time frame. You linked with a company in the U.K. Can you describe that situation and also let us know the state of Lockdown Entertainment?
Infinite: I’m dealing with some companies in the U.K. and Europe and will be doing some things out there later this year. Lockdown Entertainment is still going strong and now has various departments including Marketing and PR.
HipHopCanada: Let’s talk about your upcoming album Untold. What’s the concept behind this release and when can people expect it to be available for purchase?
Infinite: The concept behind Untold is simply a timeline of different periods of my life. Almost like a diary. Since I heard rappers actually coming out and rapping about things I was really going through in my life, I thought, why not tell my life the way it should be told. I also wanted to give direction. Some might need it, some may not. A lot of young men make major mistakes some that could lead to prison, murders, losing their own lives or even taking their own lives. If I could even save one life, I would feel like I accomplished one of my goals for the album. In 2007, I got a phone call from my mother saying my cousin committed suicide. That really hurt me. I didn’t realize what could’ve been bothering him so much, for him to take his own life. If I could stop another person from doing the same thing, saving a life would be something powerful if accomplished. I think we need someone to speak it in a way the street will respect it. Talking with experience, they could pick up on it and relate to, by painting a realistic picture in the form of music. Everybody wants to be a gangster rapper, but it’s really reality rap; things that really pop off where I’m from. This album will have everybody on their toes. Even those across the American border and over in the U.K. My album will be releasing later this year but look out for a few singles before the actual release of the album.
HipHopCanada: You have a song on there, which discusses your brother that passed on. How hard was it to write a song like that and did you find it therapeutic to put your feelings into song like that?
Infinite: The loss of my brother was very hard for me, it still is. I felt like taking the situation into my own hands but realised I would be making my situation even harder. By writing the song, “Not Alone”, it helped me to deal with things better.
HipHopCanada: What about the title song, “Untold” which features messages from Stanley “Tookie” Williams.
Infinite: “Untold” was a message that I wanted to put out there for anybody I’ve hurt in the past. I wanted them to realize that I’ve grown and I’m not the same person that I used to be. I use my discretion when it comes down to making a decision that can either affect me or help me at the end of the day.
HipHopCanada: You had a role in the movie Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story and you released a song with Maestro and Gowan called “Criminal Mind” which celebrates Tookie’s life. According to your biography, you performed this song as a musical component to the theatrical ceremony; “Witness to an Execution” co-produced by Barbara Becnel, Governor candidate for the State of California. What type of response did you get and how did your relationship with Maestro originally develop?
Infinite: When we did Criminal Mind, I knew this would be the first time in years that the industry would get a chance to hear what I could bring to the table, as far as content and what my delivery would sound like after growing and experiencing a lot more than I did in the early stages of my career. I spoke to Barbara Becnel, a mutual friend of Tookie and myself, she just finished running for Governor of California. Barbara asked me if I wanted to fly out to Cali to perform at Tookie’s one-year anniversary. Within a few weeks, I was in Cali. I did a few songs; one of them was “Criminal Mind”. I invited Maestro out there and did the track. It was interesting watching how focused everybody was while we performed. Loved it. The West coast embraced me. That’s why I got so much love for the West. I knew Maestro for more than 10 years. I bully him time to time. But, he knows its all love. Who said you can’t make the older one tougher?
HipHopCanada: What will the lead off single be and when can we expect the video?
Infinite: The lead single, which will be my re-introduction, will be dropping in March.
HipHopCanada: Have you decided which Director to work with for the video?
Infinite: There’s a lot of talent out there. I’m considering a few directors at the moment… whoever matches the calibre of the song really.
HipHopCanada: What are your views of the Canadian hip-hop scene now compared to 10-11 years ago when you released the 360 EP. Good things, bad things and everything in between… how do things measure up?
Infinite: I think there’s a lot of people that want to rap, but only some are going to be good at it. You could hear the one’s coming out that are more genuine than the one’s that don’t have any substance. A few might sound original while the others sound weak. I think we need to bring back that original sound that could be put up against other major artists that are in that position to take the music industry and bring a whole new face to it.
HipHopCanada: Who are you feeling in the Canadian scene these days?
Infinite: There are a lot of talented artists on the Canadian scene… Deborah Cox, Tamia, Divine Brown and a few others. There are rappers coming up that haven’t been heard yet that are iller than some of those we hear on the radio.
HipHopCanada: Back to the big screen. Some people might not realize that you were in Redemption. Do you plan on doing any other acting?
Infinite: Most definitely. I like acting in movies and playing different roles that are outside myself, playing someone else. As a matter of fact I’m playing a part in an upcoming film scheduled to start filming early this year.
HipHopCanada: Any shout-outs?
Infinite: I definitely wanna show love to my Lockdown family, they’ve always been there. Shout-out to the haters that are constantly trying to pull me down. Keep adding fuel to the fire. You make me want to push it to the limit! Respect for that. HipHopCanada for showing the support you’ve always shown. Everybody that stood beside me through my ups and downs, and [is] still here up to this day… Mad love. I’m here.
Written by Jesse “Dutchy” Plunkett for HipHopCanada