The Alchemist: Chemical Warfare (Review)

 

It’s been five years since his last solo effort, 1st Infantry, but on Chemical Warfare, Alchemist—Eminem’s tour DJ and Prodigy’s go-to-beatsmith—doesn’t disappoint his eager fans. As always, Al flips both exotic and noteworthy samples to accompany his signature sound—sinister melodies over thumping drums. A good selection of artists from Memphis to Brooklyn laces the album with grit. Jadakiss and Pusha T spit life-threatening bars on “Lose Your Life” over a bouncy piano-loop perfectly matching Snoop Dogg’s menacing hook.

 The haunting sound continues “On Sight” featuring Tha Dogg Pound and Lady of Rage, a song that could be a theme for a drive-by. The vibe picks up as Three Six Mafia and Juvenile excel on the fast paced “That’ll Work,” while KRS-One yet again preaches and teaches on string-laced “Grand Concourse Benches.” Lest one think Al’s sound is too niche, he balances things out with guitar-riff-heavy “Therapy” and the album’s most radio-friendly track, “Smile” on which a self-assured Alchemist spits alongside Twista. Although Chicago’s tongue twister surely steals the show, the former member of the Whooliganz holds his own on many other tracks throughout the LP. On Kool G. Rap assisted “ALC Theme,” Al claims, “I ain’t a P-unk/I was raised off P-Funk, getting blazed til d-runk,” showcasing his witty wordplay. Chemical Warfare is by no means perfect—Eminem’s appearance on the title track is impressive, but its short length only comes off like a snippet. And while entertaining, the sexually explicit and synthesizer-driven “Keep The Heels On” by Prodigy gets disturbing after several listens. Nonetheless, Alchemist’s second solo effort—with chopped samples and a relentless drum machine—yet again reveals him as one of the best producer/rapper in the game.

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