No Days Off

Artist: The AlchemistTitle: No Days OffRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Conan Milne

When it comes to The Alchemist certain listeners have got it twisted. Although he has been crafting definitive Mobb Deep material for some time now, and his music is undoubtedly East Coast influenced, A-L-C remains one of the West Coast's finest exports. On No Days Off (ALC Music) the producer goes coast to coast for a project that showcases his instrumentals paired with both his national peers and some hometown heroes.

Let's begin with the local boys. Alchemist throws Tha Dogg Pound a bone on standout "On The Rise". The music provided here is unlike Alchemist's typical output. It's upbeat and melodic, and pays off in its experimentation. Over some soothing keys, Kurupt and Daz Dillinger illicit a united stance when the latter refers to his veteran clique as "un-fade-able". Yet of the three West Coast reps assembled here, it's our title subject who really rises to the occasion. One notable moment occurs when he introduces a soulful, jazz-tinged sample near the track's energetic conclusion. The West Coast's underground favorites are also prominent, with stalwarts like Defari and Mitchy Slick dropping brooding bars over Alchemist's gothic, bass heavy beats.

On the familiar grime tip, frequent Alchemist collaborator and one-half of the Mobb, Prodigy, casually dismisses suspect posturing on the eerie synthesizers of "I Betcha", also featuring a soft-spoken Kokane. If "Mr. Kane" sounds pained on "Betcha", Agallah and Alchemist sound effortlessly confident on the intense production of "Ride Out", featuring the repetitive, catchy boasting of "this is so gangster".

While that confidence may be well placed, Alc has nonetheless faltered on occasion. On a fifteen track mixtape, it's downright irritating to feature an intro, interlude and non-Alchemist produced efforts. Prodigy's hogging of the microphone (he appears on three tracks in total) would be fine, were it not for the fact that "V.I.P" sounds on cruise control at times. Alc's stellar production shines though, and listeners should be thankful for as long as he continues to work overtime.