The Alchemist 1st Infantry

The Alchemist 1st Infantry
The 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, he’s 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 Alchemist’s 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; it’s behind the satirical skits exposing slimy managers, A&R reps and his own rhymes about his privileged upbringing ("Different Worlds”). It’s also the motivation to include the diverse range of artists who’ve 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 "It’s 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. Nas’s typically intricate aural chapter on "Tick Tock,” as well as the lascivious presence of Devin The Dude’s 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? It’s like you have to go through being a beat-maker to becoming a producer. I don’t 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, it’s 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 it’s used? I use this thing called the S1-Confibulator, some new hi-tech… nah I’m just kidding. I like to throw people off. Most people who know me know I use the ASR-10, I always preach it, it’s like my rap bible, "Don’t leave home without it” type shit. It’s not about the equipment, man. I know friends and people who’ve got studios full of equipment and they got every gadget and everything and it just collects mad dust. So I keep it simple, I’m stubborn. As far as when I want to do something to a certain sample, if I have an idea I don’t want to think about how to do it when I’m with my machine; it’s like an extension of my arm, it’s just connected to me.

Can you give some insight into your lyrical approach? I like to keep it honest and truthful ’cause that’s what comes from the heart. I felt like I’m doing the album I want people to know who I am. Not just "This beat is hot. Who the hell is that?” It’s gonna make them buy my albums as a person. I’m deeper than just an instrumental. (Koch)