An interlude on Alchemist's [click to read] new album, Chemical Warfare, sees a crew of backpackers and street rap formally deciding a consensus on his contributions to Hip Hop culture. But at this point, such debates shouldn't even be an issue: Alchemist is dope, period. Between his contributions to others' albums and his own solo projects, the Cali native and New York City transplant has displayed the ability to craft beats for virtually anyone who requests them. In the first full-length follow-up to 2004's 1st Infantry, Alchemist shows that he hasn't lost a step.
As to be expected, the guest list here is untouchable. But it's when Alc steps out of his comfort zone collaborators that Chemical Warfare is most exciting. On "Smile," Alchemist's organ-driven backdrop helps mellow out the contrast of Twista's [click to read] rapid-fire flow and Maxwell's soulful chorus. And while Alchemist is known for his collaborations with the east and west coast's best, "That'll Work" [click to listen] avoids contrived southern rap territory by seamlessly meshing elements of the south and the west coasts' Rap scenes with verses from Three 6 Mafia [click to read] and Juvenile. Another impressive curveball here is the respect paid to living legends. Kool G Rap's [click to read] "ALC Theme" and KRS-One's [click to read] "Grand Concourse Benches" see them spitting with as much energy as they would have in their heydays, and "On Sight" goes back to the future by setting rhymes from California staples Dogg Pound [click to read] and Lady Of Rage [click to read] atop of what sounds like a west coast beat from the year 3000.
Don't worry, though: most of Chemical Warfare doesn't stray too far from Alchemist's bread and butter, and that's not a bad thing at all. "Lose Your Life" [click to listen] uses a simple-but-effective soundbed to house venomous bars from Jadakiss [click to read], Pusha T [click to read] and Snoop Dogg [click to read], while layered beats like "Some Gangster Shit" [click to listen] and the title track are fitting playgrounds for Fabolous [click to read] and Eminem, respectively. Add the gritty "Under Siege" and "Acts Of Violence" (the latter featuring a vicious verse from Crooked I [click to view]), and you have an album that essentially captures the essence of virtually all of Alchemist's sounds.
"Keep The Heels On" would be another classic Alchemist/Prodigy [click to read] collaboration with its vintage ALC beat, if it wasn't for P's misplaced sex rhymes. But aside from minimal missteps like this, Chemical Warfare is a great demonstration of why Alchemist continues to be one of the best producers in rap, respected by both his peers and fans. If skeptics like the ones in the previously mentioned solely pay attention to the quality of the music, there shouldn't be any complaints.