Lord Steppington, the first album by Alchemist and Evidence's Step Brothers project, doesn't just signify the union of an underground hip-hop super-duo, it marks the return of a long-lost kiddie rap crew from the early '90s.
Before he became a renowned hip-hop producer and Eminem's DJ, Alchemist (born Alan Maman) got his start rhyming alongside Scott Caan (the actor and son of James Caan) as the Whooliganz, the youngest members of a Soul Assassins crew led by Cypress Hill and House of Pain. More than 20 years after they recorded first Whooliganz single "Put Your Handz Up," Maman and Caan reunited on wax for the Step Brothers track "Byron G," which also features Domo Genesis.
"It's kind of a midlife crisis, revisiting my youth," Alchemist tells Exclaim! "Scott got busy on the album, though. He was dibbling for a while. Then he came over, and we were like, 'Yo, you should just dabble with it.' So he dibbled and dabbled and shit came out hot. Fuckin' killed everybody. What the hell is going on here? Actually, nah, that's one of my favourite Ev verses on the album. He didn't body Ev, but he did his goddamn thing, man. He's great. He's amazing."
Evidence says Caan showed poise by spitting his verse on a moving bus: "Some people wait for the bus to stop to record; he did not. He rapped while the bus was rolling."
Adds Alchemist, "You can hear in the background, it sounds like reverb, but it's actually just the bus. With this rap shit, you don't really notice it, because it's rap. You blend it all together."
Although the teenage Whooliganz landed a record deal with Tommy Boy, their debut LP, Make Way for the W, never saw a release. Tommy Boy dropped the group, and the two followed separate career paths, although Alchemist says there have been "talks and ideas" about releasing the lost album to the public.
Evidence will follow up Steppington with a new Dilated Peoples album on Rhymesayers. The album, titled Directors of Photography, is due later this year and marks the first LP by group members Evidence, Iriscience and DJ Babu since 2006's 20/20. After that, Evidence will release his third solo album and then, he says, "reassess my life."
Alchemist, too, has more on deck for 2014: "I have a lot of shit coming; crazy, mad, wild shit coming out," he says, avoiding details. "I got a lot of shit in this computer. I should just turn it upside down and shake everything out of it."
Until then, Lord Steppington is out now on Rhymesayers.