The Alchemist 1st Infantry

[Koch; 2004]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: underground hip-hop, mainstream hip-hop
Others: Havoc, Large Professor, Muggs

Producers are a peculiar breed. The way we describe them and give them their due depends on a variety of things. We tend to identify certain producers with distinctive attributes. We'll say, "oh that dude's got great drums," or "man, he can layer samples flawlessly," or "damnit, why can't I utilize live instrumentation like that?" A skilled producer can oftentimes find him or herself praised for one specific talent. Then there are producers like the Alchemist, who in more cases than not, garners responses such as: "this dude is DOPE!"

A description such as that is usually due to a beat that jumps out at you through an aggression that can be granted courtesy of a great sample find, the types of beats that can't be denied -- everyone has to nod their head to it. It's the type of beat that gets you hyped up whether it's playing in your car or at a concert. The Alchemist has been responsible for a number of these types of beats, so for his first official full-length, should we have expected anything else?

Another aspect of Alchemist that is worth mentioning is his ability to donate memorable beats to both underground and mainstream artists. From Dilated Peoples to Mobb Deep, Alchemist pleases nearly all hip-hop audiences. His album's guest list, unfortunately, is full of many sub par MCs. There's no doubt in my mind that if Alchemist wanted to, he could've called up a few "doper" friends to come by and bless his album with a verse or two. We have to make due with what we have though and look beyond the lacking talents of people like J-Hood, Stat Quo, and Lloyd Banks.

Strong appearances from MOP, Prodigy, Nas, and Jadakiss surely make up for the lacking moments. Alchemist employs the crappiest snare drums in history from time to time, but overall he keeps things in proper order -- meeting the standards he set for himself over the past years. Devin the Dude might give the album its most solid song in "Where Can We Go." Devin croons on the hook and the production is laced with some appropriate horn samples. It's a welcome and successful style departure for Alchemist. The rest is mostly typical Alchemist, and nobody's gonna be complaining about that.

1. Intro
2. Dead Bodies
3. Your Boy Al
4. The Essence
5. Hold You Down
6. Industry Rule 4080
7. Stop The Show
8. D Block To QB
9. Bangers
10. Where Can We Go
11. It's a Craze
12. For The Record
13. Boost The Crime Rate
14. Strength Of Pain
15. A Soul Assassins Tale
16. Bang Out
17. Tick Tock
18. Pimp Squad
19. Different Worlds