2012 has been the Alchemist’s year. Not too long ago, it seemed likely that the Alchemist would go down as one of the many decent but not amazing boom-bap producers and one of the more mediocre rapper-producers. In late 2009, when it was announced that he was teaming with Oh No as Gangrene, I was annoyed that I was going to have to hear him rapping over a bunch of grimy Oh No beats. Honestly, I just wanted another Oh No solo project without Alc getting in the way (Oh No’s still unreleased Professionals project with his brother Madlib would have been even better). Alchemist surpassed all expectations on their first album Gutter Water, and his rapping wasn’t bad for once. It wasn’t great either, but still. Proximity to Oh No seems to have rubbed off on the Alchemist, and after laying relatively low in 2011, he has released no fewer than five great projects in 2012 and also contributed standout tracks to albums by heavyweights like Roc Marciano and Sean Price. The second Gangrene album and the full-length Russian Roulette project were the clear standouts, but his free collaborative albums with Odd Future spitter Domo Genesis and Flushing, Queens’ Action Bronson are excellent examples of Alchemist’s newly unhinged boom-bap style. And the Yacht Rock EP is probably the strangest piece of music that Alchemist has ever released: twelve minutes of Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, and others rapping about the yacht lifestyle over beats crafted from smooth Michael McDonald-style yacht rock. Mobb Deep affiliate Big Twins growling “Yeah, we’re on a yacht” is one of the most (unintentionally) hilarious musical moments of the year.
Action Bronson & The Alchemist - "The Symbol"
Domo Genesis & The Alchemist - "Elimination Chamber" (feat. Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples & Action Bronson)