Merriam-Webster defines “alchemy” thusly:
A medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life.
For the past twenty years Alchemist has applied these alchemical principles to the mystic art of hip hop production. An ace with the MPC, his sampling wizardry has won him collaborations with Nas, Lil Wayne, Curren$y, The L.O.X., and Mobb Deep, to name only a few.
Click through the image gallery to get acquainted with the genius of Alchemist.
Nas – “Book of Rhymes”
Alchemist on what a producer should eat for breakfast, as told by The Fader:
“I think oatmeal. Oatmeal’s a good one. It’s hearty. But it’s gotta be that lumpy shit, it can’t be watered down. It’s textured. It’s gotta be like paste, the shit you hang wallpaper with. Put a little cinnamon in it, give it a little spice, a little flavor. Ginger’s good. Ginger’s a great spice in my life. Ginger’s underestimated. Or underrated, rather. I think turkey bacon’s underrated.”
Action Bronson – “The Symbol”
Other than Party Supplies, Bronson’s most trusted collaborator is Alchemist. One of the most beloved songs from their 2012 joint tape Rare Chandeliers is “The Symbol” — Alchemist lays down a cinematic blues sample that aesthetically supports Bronson’s tongue-in-cheek self-mythologizing as a larger-than-life gunslinger.
Dilated Peoples – “Worst Comes to Worst”
Alchemist was producing for Dilated Peoples since before he could legally order a drink. His best-known Dilated Peoples production came in 2001 in the form of “Worst Comes to Worst,” the lead single off Expansion Team.
Curren$y – “Scottie Pippens” feat. Freddie Gibbs
If nothing else, Alchemist is a genius for shifting Curren$y’s sonic lens from brightly colored funk and soul samples to the gritty greyscale productions of Covert Coup.
Raekwon – “Surgical Gloves”
Alchemist’s uncanny knack for guitar-laden samples reached a peak on Raekwon’s “Surgical Gloves,” from his album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II. Alan applies Cubist principles to hip hop sampling by coppinh the ever-loving shit out of Styx’s jazzy-gothic 1977 record “Castle Walls.”
Pharoahe Monch – “No Mercy” feat. M.O.P.
Alchemist on Pharoah Monche, as told by Complex:
“Pharoahe was the best and he still is the greatest of all time. He was just not human. Evidence will tell you that too. Pharoahe was on a level above everything for so long, even to this day he’s not human with the way he puts his words, deliveries, and concepts together. Being able to work with him meant a lot to me. To this day it still does. It’s just that type of shit you never expect would happen. Pharoahe Monch is still another level.”
Prodigy – “Stuck On You”
When a rap song takes its name from the lyrics of its sample, you know it’s going to be flames. “Stuck On You” wouldn’t be the first time Alchemist pulled off this feat, nor would it be the last…
Mobb Deep – “Win or Lose”
… “Win or Lose” illustrates Alchemist’s flexibility. At first, in the song’s introduction, he slams Jean Plum’s “Here I Go Again” into near oblivion so that it sounds like a ghost crooning from the afterlife before busting into a nourishing, straight-ahead chop of the record.
Alchemist on the making of “We Gonna Make It,” as told by Complex:
“I remember doing the Jadakiss session. I went to Yonkers and after we tracked the beat Kiss went in the booth and after the first line it was over. When he was like, ‘They gotta use the scales that they weigh the whales with,’ It was like here we go! It was already it was a wrap. Jada and Styles chemistry on that song is crazy.”
Danny Brown – “White Lines”
Alchemist’s personality is humorous and a bit unhinged, which would explain why he and Danny Brown have such great chemistry. Only Alchemist could have dreamed up “White Lines,” a beat as imaginative and deranged as Brown himself.