Prodigy & Alchemist :: Albert EinsteinInfamous RecordsAuthor: Jaroslav 'Czechone' LavickI hated "H.N.I.C. 3." It was one of the most disappointing rap albums of all time for me, only coming in second place behind Divine Styler's "Spiral Walls Containing Autumns of Light". Actually no, it was worse than that because I only had one album's worth of background to build up my expectations for Divine Styler's follow-up LP, whereas I had almost 20 years worth of releases from Prodigy (solo and with Mobb Deep).
Never leave Prodigy for dead. People tried that in the mid 2000s, and Return of the Mac came out to blindside them: Alchemist shined behind the boards, providing a timelessly grimy soul-break soundtrack, while the Mobb Deep vet refocused and returned to his malevolent street-noir wheelhouse after years of questionable crossover bids. What was originally intended as a promo vehicle for Prodigy's 2008 LP H.N.I.C.
The pairing of Prodigy and Alchemist is far from an unfamiliar one. On top of being a prominent supplier of beats for Mobb Deep, Alchemist has aided Prodigy on all of his solo albums. Albert Einstein marks the second full-length collaboration between the two, following up 2007’s Return of the Mac. The chemistry between the rapper and producer is unquestionable.
Whether through sheer determination or the innate knack for crafting music, Prodigy has once again become a mainstay since his 2011 release from a three-year prison stint. A street Rap favorite since the mid ‘90s, he has remained astute and dedicated to satisfying his core audience aside from infrequent letdowns such as last year’s H.N.I.C. 3—an effort panned for blatant commercial attempts including “Gangsta Love” and “Pretty Thug.” Never resting on his laurels for long, Prodigy’s present output is the bold yet unsurprisingly titled Albert Einstein, and it serves as his second project fully produced by long time collaborator Alchemist.
With almost 15 years of chemistry to capitalize on, producer the Alchemist and Mobb Deep rapper Prodigy are one of the most simpatico teams in the game. The attractive Albert Einstein proves it, as swagger cut follows diss cut follows death threat before the cycle repeats (loosely), but even if that's a horribly narrow range for such veteran artists, fans will likely think the whole thing comes off like butter. Pimp declarations like "Raw Forever," "The One," and "Stay Dope" all deliver on their cold, stern titles and when sliced in half, the overstuffed album seems less redundant and shakes out nicely.
There are a couple of guys in hip-hop you just don't knock; Alchemist is one of them. Even the most ignorant of rap fans keep their mouths shut when it comes to the Chemist. The Cali producer has made beats relentlessly since the early '90s, inspired largely by the innovation and integrity of early mentor DJ Muggs. Albert Einstein (a collaboration with Long Island's Prodigy) fits seamlessly into his ever-expanding catalogue, but doesn't necessarily stand out.
Amid the drama that’s surrounded him in recent years, Prodigy’s music took a turn for the worse, digressing into something that sounded uninspired, and at times bored. After last year’s scattershot—and downright cringe-worthy at times—H.N.I.C. 3, Prodigy looked to rebound by linking up with longtime associate Alchemist for the duo’s second full length body of work.