Release Date: Jul 7, 2009
Record label: E1 Entertainment
Alchemist :: Chemical WarfareALC/E1 EntertainmentAuthor: Steve 'Flash' Juon"Smiling so you know why you can't hurt me. " Glimpses of the story of Alan Daniel Maman b/k/a The Alchemist are revealed through the "Smile" single off "Chemical Warfare. " As the opening croons "I hide my tears from the crowd, by smiling" one gets the feeling that even one of rap's most successful producers, a man a half step away from being a household name, still feels the pain of having to struggle and strive to get ahead.
Previewed heavily on the producer's 2008 EP, The Cookbook, Alchemist's often-delayed album, Chemical Warfare, matches his 2004 release, 1st Infantry, when it comes to both quality control and riveting beats, but fans expecting nothing but that hardcore punch may be alienated by a handful of surprisingly mainstream numbers. With guest singer Maxwell in full neo-soul mode, "Smile" is the sunshine bright high point of the crossover tracks, with the club-aimed Three 6 Mafia and Juvenile feature "That'll Work" running a close second. On the flipside there's the underground sound of Gangrene -- Alchemist's project with Oh No -- along with the hypnotic backpacker cut "Therapy," which returns from The Cookbook EP, but improved with an added verse from Talib Kweli.
The Alchemist's second solo record, a follow-up to the equally rock-solid 1st Infantry, is future-horror music, a cinematic soundtrack that crosses sci-fi pastiche with hardheaded ignorance of underground street rap. It's not an entirely novel concept-- the lead-off track sampling the theme from A Clockwork Orange makes that much obvious-- but it's exceptionally well-crafted in a way that eludes many of the artists who've fucked with this formula in the past. It helps that the Alchemist plays well to a lengthy guestlist of rappers with heavyweight street gravitas.