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Chemical Warfare

The Alchemist

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Album Review

Previewed heavily on the producer's 2008 EP, The Cookbook, Alchemist's often-delayed album, Chemical Warfare, matches his 2004 release, 1st Infantry, when it comes to both quality control and riveting beats, but fans expecting nothing but that hardcore punch may be alienated by a handful of surprisingly mainstream numbers. With guest singer Maxwell in full neo-soul mode, "Smile" is the sunshine bright high point of the crossover tracks, with the club-aimed Three 6 Mafia and Juvenile feature "That'll Work" running a close second. On the flipside there's the underground sound of Gangrene — Alchemist's project with Oh No — along with the hypnotic backpacker cut "Therapy," which returns from The Cookbook EP, but improved with an added verse from Talib Kweli. Kicking off the Lady of Rage comeback with the great Dogg Pound team-up "On Sight" displays the kind of throwback smarts that have earned the producer respect from the hip-hop faithful. Temper that with the absolutely filthy, very funny, and very short title track with Eminem, and the album offers the full Alchemist picture. He's confident enough to be sacrilegious yet smart enough to offer substance, and while not every returning Dilated Peoples or Mobb Deep fan will be able to hang with his more mature side, Chemical Warfare keeps this capo's reputation in tact. Recommended for aspiring dons and more open-minded thugs.

Biography

Born: 14 October 1975 in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Ignoring the coastal feuds that dominated hip-hop for most of the '90s, the Alchemist (born Alan Maman) began his career in L.A. (he grew up in affluent Beverly Hills) and ended up in New York City. As a teenager, as part of the duo the Whooliganz (with Scott Caan, son of James) and the greater rap collective the Soul Assassins (with Cypress Hill, House of Pain, etc.), he released the single "Put Your Handz Up" on Tommy Boy in 1993, though the Whooliganz' debut full-length, Make Way for the W, was...
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Chemical Warfare, The Alchemist
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