Alchemist: To the Front Line

No flash, no bling, no mess, Alchemist is about beats. For the better part of six years Alchemist has been one of the more reclusively successful producers in Hip Hop, producing grimy banger after grimy banger. In those six years, producers have risen to levels where their personalities and commercial draw equal, if not eclipse […]

No flash, no bling,

no mess, Alchemist is about beats. For the better part of six years Alchemist

has been one of the more reclusively successful producers in Hip Hop, producing

grimy banger after grimy banger. In those six years, producers have risen to

levels where their personalities and commercial draw equal, if not eclipse that

of the emcees they work with.

Talented enough

to have taken the “look-at-me” producer route, Alchemist decided

to lurk in virtual anonymity, with only the dopeness of his beats giving him

face. Alchemist has purposefully crafted beats, and a persona, that puts emphasis

on the MC’s lyrics, while encapsulating them in score-esque music that

is emotional, sinister, and beautifully trancing all at once.

Now, with his debut

album, 1st Infantry, Alchemist steps from behind his lyricists, and

puts his talents front and center. Alchemist took a second to speak with AllHipHop

about his transition from beats-smith to artist while also speaking on the practice

of jacking samples, why he desired to escape the opulent existence of his youth,

and the use of the word, n**ga by people of non-color.

What’s the theme and purpose behind the album?

Alchemist: It’s

basically an album based on production. It’s not like I rhyme on every

song, I actually on rap on two songs. It focuses on the beats which is how I

made my name over the years. It’s got a lot of my friends on it, I didn’t

reach out to people I didn’t know. It’s got my family on it, I got

Cypress on it, Dilated Peoples is on there, of course Mobb Deep is on there,

all the Lox is on there, M.O.P. is on there, this new artist Stat Quo, and Devin

the Dude. It just feels so good to have my own joint, instead of being in the

credits mad little, cause not everybody reads the inserts on the albums.

No Nas?

Alchemist: Yeah

Nas is on the album, also Game. I knew I was forgetting some people.

Is the sound classic Alchemist or did you try some new things production wise?

Alchemist: I kept

it classic cause I felt like I haven’t had a chance to assert my sound

within the scope of my own album. The producers I was raised off of like Diamond

D, Large [Professor], Premier, Muggs, they all did albums with their groups

first. Then those producers would go out and do music for other people. For

me, it was the opposite. So that’s why I don’t go too far away from

my formula, you’re not going to be too shocked by anything on the album.

It’s just that good music

What are your thoughts on producers being the main attraction on some songs,

with the artist being a secondary attraction?

Alchemist: I learned

over the years that the artist is the star of the song. Ya know you can make

your beat roll over and play dead, and do tricks, and breakdown and all type

of s**t for the fans of beats. But at the end of the day, the world is listening

to the message.

Do you feel there is a difference between a producer and a beat maker?

Alchemist: I think

in order to be a producer you have to be a beat maker, but I you can be a beat

maker and not necessarily be a producer. It’s like Karate, the beat maker

is a white belt, a beginner. The producer is a black belt. A producer collaborates

with artist more than a beat maker. You can’t just give a beat to an artist

and say okay I produced it. Yeah, but there are a few artist that you can do

that with, like my man Buckwild told me he would just give B.I.G. a beat and

he was so skilled that you would just come back later and the song would be

done. Esco’s the same way, I don’t have to be there with Nas. But

Nas actually likes the input, he appreciates input. I remember when we did “No

Ideas Original,” I brought him this break and we talked a little bit about

it and I came back two days later and it was done exactly how we spoke about


A lot of producers seem to be pretty relegated to either the underground or

commercial circles, but you seem to bounce back a forth as you please. Why do

you think the industry affords you that luxury?

Alchemist: Maybe

cause I built a foundation, but I don’t know, cause I think if I did something

out of my league people would definitely come at me. I don’t know if I’ve

gone too far into the commercial world yet. The new Mobb Deep single is probably

the furthest I’ve gone commercially. I’m careful to keep what I’ve

built special.

Jaheim’s new joint, produced by KayGee is a little too close to yours.

Is there any code of the streets for producers with that?

Alchemist: Nah

man, you can tell by how Trackmasters did the Beatnuts with that J. Lo s**t,

they didn’t call up the Beatnuts or nothing. Amongst certain heads who

I got respect for and who have a mutual respect for me, yeah sure there’s

a code. I would never do something like that, because I think back to that era

when biting was completely not tolerated. Nowadays, the word biting doesn’t

exist anymore. Back in the day you had to be original, having your own style

is what made you special. So as far as using other peoples loops and stuff,

I try to steer away from it, or if I’m gona use it I’m gona twist

it up and flip it into something they wouldn’t have thought of so even

the originator would respect it.

So you weren’t even a little bit p##### when you heard the Jaheim song?

Alchemist: Nah,

it was just funny cause in the song he’s like “When worst comes

to worst you gotta put your women first.” That makes me think they definitely

had to hear my track.

Look at you being all humble, like they couldn’t have heard that song.

Alchemist: It’s

all good. It’s kind of funny cause Jaheim has a new artist and they just

called up me and P (Prodigy) because they’re using “Keep it Thoro.”

Now I’m starting to think, damn KayGee call me up. But it’s all

love, we get our residuals and it’s all good.

Are there any artists that you’ve deeply wanted to work with that you


Alchemist: Probably

Jay. Ya know, we talked, I seen him recently too, so it might happen.

Are we gona hear an Alchemist beat on Street’s Disciple?

Alchemist: I don’t

think so man. I just spoke to them, and the joints we did, I don’t think

they made it. They will probably be on Lost Tapes II, I think that’s what

they were talking about doing.

You grew up in the Hills, right?

Alchemist: Yeah,

I went to school in Beverly Hills. On a general level my folks are paid, but

compared to the people I grew up around, I mean I grew up around billionaires

and all the actors and actresses kids. It was a trip, but it always made me

want to get away from there, I didn’t like it. I just felt like it was


What do your folks think about your job? Do they even know much about what you


Alchemist: Uhhhh,

ya know they always wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer, cause I was always

good in school. But now they see that I’m successful and they’re

just happy to see me excel.

Lately there seems to be an emerging set of producers who are unquestionably

talented and also happen to be Jewish. Is there a connection with Jewish people

and Hip Hop?

Alchemist: I think

it’s always been a connection between Jewish people and Hip Hop. They

were some of the people who really gave it [a] start back in the day. I can’t

really explain what it is, but it’s always been a lot of Jewish cats in

the music industry and in the Rap game.

You are talking to me now from the office of Shady Records, what’s your

relationship with Shady Records?

Alchemist: Well

you know that Goliath Management is also apart of Shady. My brother works for

Paul Rosenberg, and Paul really loves my brother. He is a big part of their

management office. So about a year or two ago, when it was time to do this project,

I stepped to Paul and asked to join the company. Also Paul was my Lawyer before

Em blew up, so we had a previous relationship. When Em blew up, Paul stopped

being a lawyer and focused on management. My brother pretty much handles everything

related to me, but Paul shows us a lot of love whenever my brother hits a wall

with not enough power, or something like that. I really wanted to just prove

myself first and show Paul that I’m not a leech or nothing. Ya know I

didn’t want to be like, “Yo, now that I’m down with you let

me do beats for Em and 50.” Although, I would’ve loved to have them

on the album. I want to build my own wing to this company with ALC.

AHH: Do you still

keep in contact with artist you worked with when you were virtually unknown,

like Buck 50 and Freddie Foxx?

Alchemist: Hell

yeah, as much as I can I try to keep in touch with everybody, see what they’re

up to and try and support them. I just spoke to Freddie recently and I got to

get him some new s**t for his project. Buck, that’s my family. Ya know

he’s in and out of jail and always in some crazy s**t, but anything he

needs from me he knows I’m one call away.

AHH: I have some

white friends who have openly admitted to having casually referred to themselves

and their other white friends as n**ga on a consistent basis throughout their

youth, what are your thoughts on that?

Alchemist: Yeah,

I think that’s a neighborhood thing. Like there’s a lot of white

kids in New York who get away with it. But in places like Compton and other

parts of the country, it really rubs people the wrong way. I’ve been through

my issues with that, like it’s not what you say, it’s how you say

it—but truth is, it is what you say sometimes too. People just get offended

by certain speech and I respect that. So I would never put that in my rhymes

or just speak on it like that. Everyone feels different ways about different

words and things, so I just try to stay clear of that and make it all about

the music. I know how I would feel as a Jewish person if someone said something

derogatory that I thought was offensive.

According to Koch

Records, 1st Infantry is slated for September 21st.