The Alchemist continues to solidify what many have already understood to be fact: he's easily one of the most creative and adaptable producers in the game. Not only has he been at the center of many stellar releases, but he's also taken to producing full-length collaborative albums for some of rap's most effective spitters; Conway, Freddie Gibbs, Boldy James, and now Armand Hammer (a duo made up of Billy Woods and Elucid) with Haram.
Though the cover art isn't entirely for the faint of heart, the music on Haram is far more digestible. By now, Alchemist's production style is well familiar -- vintage samples, minimalist production, and plenty of space for his collaborators to flex. Lyrically, Hammer rises to the occasion, blending effectively with Al's soundscapes. A dexterous rhymer and dense writer, it generally requires a close examination of Billy Woods and Elucid's bars to unpack their full potential. Paired with Alchemist's grimy production, and it's hard not to feel whisked away to a different environment entirely -- a butcher shop, perhaps, as the project's artwork would happily suggest.
It should be expected that Haram will not be for everybody, as enjoyment will likely stem from one's appreciation of lyrically-driven underground hip-hop. For those who do buy into what he and Al are selling, however, Haram may very well be among the year's underappreciated surprises. If you like what Alchemist has been cooking up of late, be sure to check out this new project now, and share your thoughts in the comments below.