The Alchemist - 1st Infantry Album Cover

This is one of those albums that never gets dull. Probably Alchemist’s finest work and at his peak for sure. I don’t mind his new style but from my point of view his style was already unique and stand out, but now just like every other producer (DJ Muggs being one) he has jumped on the minimal hype train. It’s a trend and trends don’t last, they pass. I do not mind the odd tune here and there, but when MCs are linking up with producers and the whole project has no drums (think they have all thrown away their Akai and N.i. MPCs) and at a slow 70 BPM it starts to get a bit boring.

I miss Alchemist’s edgy NY up tempo stuff, but he still puts out fire – no doubt – just not a huge fan of minimal. Yes it’s artistic, or I should say “was” but it’s not artistic when everyone is doing it and most of it is just looped vinyl samples. Now, back to said album.

1st Infantry is a fine example of how to put together a feature heavy album as a producer. Got the killer spitters killing every track and some of the best beats ever with some great hooks. Alc even lays down a couple of bars and in all honesty he’s pretty damn good, especially on the closing track ‘Different Worlds‘ with Big Twins where they both spit opposite upbringings and it’s what you call ‘keeping it 100’. This is how music should be made. A theme and a very smart idea that you don’t see a lot of. Yeah I love someone just laying down bars with multis, but you can’t beat content and story telling and I’ll take that over the former any day. What a way to kick off an album! An intro with some cuts then into a track featuring an east coast and west coast gangster spitter and damn Prodigy and The Game gel well on dead bodies. ‘The Essence’ is probably the best Lox track ever. Straight raw street shit. ‘Hold You Down’ is a certified classic. Even stormed the charts. peaked at number 95 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 47 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.  Prodigy killed it again and plus has the legendary Illa Ghee too and damn whenever this guy does music it’s special. ‘Stop The Show’ is a nice mix up between dirty south native Stat Quo and NY Brownsville M.O.P.

The Alchemist

Block to QB‘ has four great spitters 2 from each and it bangs. ‘Bangers’ shows off how good Lloyd Banks actually is. And love the gangster 70s funk on ‘Where Can We Go‘. Devin The Dude lays down some nice vocals. ‘It’s A Craze‘ is your typical Mobb Deep track and that’s exactly what you want as its fucking fire. Was my fav track when first bussed the album. The beat has Alc lay down layers of percussion (which I miss all the hi hats, shakers, bongos etc) even chops up samples on his MPC (another forgotten art). The Dilated Peoples is a nice track too, even though I think The Wu would of been a nicer fit but hey I’m being subjective.

Boost the crime rate‘ is Sheek at his best as he still has that distress sound style in his voice like his heart hurts and he’s about to cry, that shit made Sheek deep and of course Lox old member J Hood kills it as he did on every feature back then. The beat is fire, has bongos for percussion and has Alc tearing the sample up with the pitch wheel/fader. ‘Strength in pain’ is another nice but still raw vocal tune like ‘Where Can We Go’. It has that 70s 80s cop tv sound to it like Hill Street Blues. Man ‘Bang Out‘ is a straight banger. B Real sounds crisp over this Alc beat. Nas and Prodigy have always been a collaborative force that’s better than most. Shame we didn’t get to see them do a duo project too. R.I.P. Don P. ‘Pimp Squad’ is funky as hell with T.I. bringing his old clique through. And we touched on the closing track at the start. All in all it’s the pinnacle of our boy Al’s Career and undoubtedly his best work. His style was his own and unique even if he did borrow QB’s own Havoc’s gritty NY street sound – but who didn’t after ‘The Infamous’ album. A timeless classic that still sounds dope 16 years later and in all honesty this production beats anything he’s doing now in my opinion.

The Alchemist

About The Author

By Brutus Maximus

Founder of Raw Side Hip Hop. Been rocking with the hip hop culture for over 30 years. Love the creativity, authenticity of the art and the culture as a whole. Shout out to the real ones making and supporting true hip hip and the artists who make it!