Published Oct 01, 2004The Alchemist has come a long way since he came on the scene as a member of the forgettable kiddie rap group the Whooliganz, with actor Scott Caan. After being groomed by DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill and moving from Cali to New York, hes steadily built a rep providing an indelible stamp of underground authenticity while maintaining a relatively low profile. 1st Infantry represents a coming out party of sorts and is an assured statement that not only confirms the Alchemists production chops, but also exhibits his versatility, veering from ominously grimy bangers to the elegiac keyboards sprinkled across the retro-digital, street-aimed salvos. Loyalty and truthfulness seem to be the loose theme; its behind the satirical skits exposing slimy managers, A&R reps and his own rhymes about his privileged upbringing ("Different Worlds). Its also the motivation to include the diverse range of artists whove looked out for him. So high school chums Dilated Peoples front the intense head-nodder For The Record, and members of his de facto crew, Mobb Deep, make their presence felt on the old-school feel of "Its A Craze and the eerily addictive sway of "Hold You Down. However, "Bang Out, featuring B- Real of Cypress Hill, does prove that sometimes the loyalty is misguided. Nass typically intricate aural chapter on "Tick Tock, as well as the lascivious presence of Devin The Dudes superfly-soul entry "Where Can We Go? do however prove that inviting your friends, in this case, is a pretty good thing.
What is the difference between being a beat-maker and a producer? Its like you have to go through being a beat-maker to becoming a producer. I dont know if you have to be a producer to be a beat-maker. Every second, you gotta really zoom in real close and then you can zoom out later and really appreciate the product. Basically, its like a tailor making a suit, you got to go through every stitch on the suit to make sure it comes out right.
When it comes to making beats is it the equipment or how its used? I use this thing called the S1-Confibulator, some new hi-tech nah Im just kidding. I like to throw people off. Most people who know me know I use the ASR-10, I always preach it, its like my rap bible, "Dont leave home without it type shit. Its not about the equipment, man. I know friends and people whove got studios full of equipment and they got every gadget and everything and it just collects mad dust. So I keep it simple, Im stubborn. As far as when I want to do something to a certain sample, if I have an idea I dont want to think about how to do it when Im with my machine; its like an extension of my arm, its just connected to me.
Can you give some insight into your lyrical approach? I like to keep it honest and truthful cause thats what comes from the heart. I felt like Im doing the album I want people to know who I am. Not just "This beat is hot. Who the hell is that? Its gonna make them buy my albums as a person. Im deeper than just an instrumental. (Koch)