Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: The Alchemist – Flying High, Part 2

The producer reaches new heights by rapping all over his latest EP.

Fans of hip-hop are no strangers to The Alchemist. With an extensive catalogue that spans back to the late ‘90s, the American music artist has continued to dominate in recent years by releasing collaborative projects with contemporary figures like Action Bronson, Curren$y, Freddie Gibbs, and Larry June, among many others. Alongside these artists, he also began releasing small sets of EPs: first, the This Thing of Ours series in 2021, and now, Flying High.

In the past, The Alchemist has laid down guest rap verses on tracks with Action Bronson (“Arnold and Danny”), Larry June (“60 Days”), and most recently on “Midnight Oil” from the original Flying High. Flying High, Part 2 marks a new milestone—for the first time in his career, the producer is tackling a full project as an MC. The rapping throughout the EP is solid: he flows in and out of different pockets, switching speed between lines as he uses more and fewer syllables, similarly to how Action Bronson does it. This delivery makes each and every one of Alchemist’s lines stand out, illuminating his knack for wordplay.

The EP kicks off with “Turkish Link,” a lavish jazz-based cut. The song’s beat is backed by horns which evoke a triumphant entrance. Alc’s bars are a mix of introspectiveness with some boasts about his achievements. He notably recalls having “slept on couches and stayed inside of basements / Put in major pain to get minor placements.”

“Phil Drummond” follows, backed by a sinister instrumental. It features a siren-like sound that looms faintly in the background, helping maintain the song’s menacing tone. Conway the Machine is a great addition to the track, given his bold delivery and statements like “Every sentence in my lecture is intricate architecture.” The track rounds out nicely with a mellow horn section which effectively segues into a skit as the next track begins.

“Vertigo” is one of the most entertaining tracks on the record. It begins with an oscillating sonar-like sound that leads into a funky, warbly instrumental. Alchemist provides a colourful, lighthearted backdrop over which he drops witty lines. Given such an animated beat, who better to join in than Action Bronson? Bronson’s verse is just as fun and is packed with his usual references to food and vivid imagery—most notably, bringing his own food to a restaurant in a Tupperware and wrestling with a leprechaun.

“Royal Hand” marks the reunion of The Alchemist and Oh No as the duo Gangrene, for the first time since 2019. The track features an ominous, stuttery melody paired with slow-tempo, punchy drums. The Alchemist adopts an impressively quick flow and rides the beat perfectly. Oh No handles the second verse with the same momentum with fewer breaks, making his performance even more relentless. The track is grim and hypnotic, and the fast-paced rapping performances make it even more mesmerizing.

The closing track “Paint Different” is another jazzy number. Its soothing instrumental also features horns, though they are much more relaxing in fashion. The soundscape sounds like fine dining by the sunset on a European coast, a setting that The Alchemist’s lavish verse perfectly captures as he raps about visiting Europe, drinking wine, and daydreaming. Curren$y feels right at home on this track that is sonically reminiscent of his and Alc’s 2022 collaborative project Continuance.

Flying High, Part 2 is an unprecedented extensive showcase of The Alchemist’s talent as a rapper, one that also features amazing production per usual. The motif of horns ties the soundscape together nicely whether the beats are bold and baleful or soothing and slow tempo. The Alchemist brings his usual suspects along for the ride whilst proving that he can hold his own beside them as an MC.

Score: 8/10

Trial Track: Royal Hand

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