Although The Alchemist has produced for a long laundry list of
artists ranging from underground notables like Dilated Peoples,
Bumpy Knuckles and Royce Da 5’9” to mainstream stars
like Nas, Jadakiss and Mobb Deep, many do not know this beatsmith
extraordinaire. He’s arguably one of the top five producers
in hip-hop right now, but yet as his first rhyming debut, 1st
Infantry, suggests, he’s only been coming around lately and
is new in town.
1st Infantry is more like a very dope mixtape of The
Alchemist’s material. He barely rhymes at all on the album,
but it features a whole slate of the industry’s top artists.
Unfortunately, he serves hot beats for the likes of Lloyd Banks and
G-Unit affiliates like The G.A.M.E. In this respect, the album is
not very cohesive. Nonetheless, the humorous skits in between the
tracks about “Our Boy Al” attempt to make this mixtape
come together like an autobiography.
Of course, the beats are the highlight of this album. People
will still want to hear what The Alchemist has cooked up for this
diverse roster. Members from both the Lox’s D-Block crew and
Mobb Deep’s Infamous clique collaborate on the dark
orchestration “D-Block to QB.” The haunting strings and
murky bassline accompanied with hand claps and drum taps help
depict the grim landscape and lyrics. The song “Stop the
Show,” featuring M.O.P. and Stat Quo, brings back the Mafioso
days of Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx with its grinding
guitar and hyped-up lyrics.
The best track on the album is the last song, “Different
Worlds” and is one of the few songs that fit the theme of his
skits. He and Twin Gambino of Infamous Mobb go back and forth
rhyming about their different lives: The Alchemist, who is white
and came from an affluent family in California, and Twin Gambino,
who is black and grew up on the streets of New York. Although this
song is conceptually on point, The Alchemist should just stay
behind the boards and not bother trying to grab the microphone.
There’s no doubt that The Alchemist serves us with top-
quality production on 1st Infantry. Once he finds the right emcee,
hip-hop can expect a classic offering.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.