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


Murda Beatz plans for an even bigger 2020

The Canadian hip hop producer discusses his platinum hits and rising the ranks

Seated backstage in the underground lair that is MTELUS’ green room, following A$AP Ferg’s “Floor Seats” tour stop, Murda Beatz reflects on his childhood exposure to music.

“I grew up on classic rock, hard rock, metal – Metallica,” he said. “That’s what I grew up on. That’s what I got a taste for as a kid. That’s why I wanted to play drums. I wanted to make a band and do all that shit because I had a rock background.”

No, Murda Beatz is not the stage name of a drummer for an up-and-coming rock ‘n’ roll band. Instead, Murda Beatz is one of the most successful hip hop producers of our generation, with an extensive catalogue that dates back to the early years of the decade. Most impressive, perhaps, is that the shaggy-haired Canadian from the southern suburbs of Toronto has become a contemporary staple in the Atlanta trap scene and beyond.

“If there’s 20 thousand producers in Toronto and you’re trying to get to Toronto artists, how are you so different than anyone else?” Murda asks. “You have to catch someone’s attention to make you different. So I went to Chicago, got in the drill scene, got my name established in the drill scene – enough to hit up the Migos and be like ‘Yo, I’m Murda Beatz, I work with Chief Keef and these guys’… Until your name holds weight, your credentials are going to hold more weight than your name.”

Murda tells the story of his early days while his thick “MURDA” chain glistens atop his pendant of a chef – a symbol for being the master at cooking beats.

Following his collaborations with Chief Keef, Murda became one of the main producers for Migos, the Atlanta rap trio credited with being some of the early forefathers of the ad lib trap rap that currently dominates the market. The exclusivity and credibility that came from that honour then allowed him to collaborate with other industry chart toppers. In the last two years alone, Murda has been responsible for creating hits like “Butterfly Effect” by Travis Scott, “Nice for What” by Drake, and recently 10x plantinum record “FEFE” by the incarcerated rainbow-haired rapper 6ix9ine and Nicki Minaj.

Murda acknowledges that he typically knows when he has a hit on his hands. While that criteria depends on a few factors like the artist and the beat itself, a lot of the magic happens when the song is made live in the studio.

“Most of the Migos stuff is in studio,” he says, “like ‘Pipe It Up,’ ‘Motorsport,’ some new shit we got coming out called ‘GNF (Give No Fucks)’ with Travis and Thug. ‘Butterfly Effect’ was done on FaceTime. ‘FEFE’ was in studio. Most of the special ones come from the studio – most of them. I think it’s just the synergy, you know what I mean? It’s just different. But some stuff, artists might hit me up and like ‘Yo, I got some crazy shit,’ which is not in studio. Then I’m gonna do my own shit, make a call, and say ‘Ey, we got a record.’”

Hip hop producer Murda Beatz discusses his success with the Concordian music editor Jacob Carey following his “Floor Seats” tour stop with A$AP Ferg. Photo by Chris Carpenter (@cb43media).

Murda recalls the time he collaborated with the recently departed Juice WRLD, a Chicago rapper most known for his highly successful track “Lucid Dreams.”

“So me and him, the day before he signed his deal, I hit him up,” Murda says. “I became a fan, you know what I’m saying, me and Cole Bennett, we started talking a few years ago. So I was always on his page, watching his shit, so I saw the ‘All Girls Are the Same’ video, said ‘This kid is fire.’ I was bumping that shit every day. So I found out he was in LA, hit him up, went to the studio, and we made 14 songs in six hours. Crazy. He’s the fastest working man possible on this earth. We made 14 songs in six hours. That shit was crazy. None of them came out, unfortunately, some of them leaked and stuff. Hopefully they might come out in the future, you never know. It’s definitely music that should come out. Everyone would appreciate it, and it’s definitely some of my best music.”

While Murda is in high demand among a wave of both new and already established artists, there are still dream collaborations that he wishes to cross off his bucket list in the near future.

“Definitely like, Rihanna, Beyonce, Bieber, Kanye, [Jay-Z] … Ed Sheeran,” Murda says. “I think me and him in a picture together would break the internet. If we did a music video together – if I was Ed Sheeran and he was Murda Beatz… that’d be crazy. I should definitely hit him up. We’ve talked back and forth. I was supposed to go to his show a few months ago but I just got too busy, but yeah, we got to do some shit. If he was me and I was him in a video, that shit would go crazy.”

Murda Beatz’ success shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

“New songs coming out in 2020. Album in 2020. The years just keep getting bigger and bigger.”


Photos by Chris Carpenter (@cb43media)

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