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

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: The Great Escape – Larry June & The Alchemist

Veteran producer The Alchemist teams up with friend Larry June to bless our ears in time for Easter.

American record producer, DJ, rapper and songwriter The Alchemist released his latest collaboration album on March 31, this time with San Francisco rapper and affiliate Larry June. It was only a matter of time before the release of this project, since The Alchemist has been on a collab album streak. 

The legendary producer dropped The Elephant Man’s Bones in August 2022 with Roc Marciano, as well as Continuance with Curren$y in February of the same year, the latter of which features rapper Larry June. 

Curren$y also appears on The Great Escape, teaming up with Joey Bada$$ to feature on the penultimate song “Barragán Lighting” — a personal favourite on the 15-track project.

The Great Escape is already in the top five of the year for me. Some people may say that Larry June has a lazy monotone flow and lacklustre pen game. Real ones, including myself, know that his voice, bars and flow are perfectly homogeneous with the smooth soul loops that The Alchemist concocted. 

The album paints a perfect picture of what Larry June is doing after his success. It’s exactly what is displayed on the album cover: driving around California’s bay area in a classy expensive car. It feels like a victory lap around the hills in a Porsche 911, and The Alchemist is piecing everything together in the passenger seat.

The Alchemist’s curation for lyrical talent is always outstanding, grabbing artists that are forever slept on like Boldy James, Jay Worthy, and Curren$y. It always makes my week whenever I see Action Bronson create anything, especially when he teams up with The Alchemist, and this time it’s for his feature on “Solid Plan”, and it’s as if his best bud made the beat for him. The strange ’80s synth had the loop sounding like it could be found on a hypothetical deluxe version of Blue Chips 7000

This kicks off a three-banger streak. The following song, “Palisades, CA” is just gross, easily the best song on the record. It keeps the same uniform vibe of the album, feeling bright yet mysterious and dangerous. Big Sean, who I usually find corny and think of as someone who does too much, absolutely popped off. The Detroit rapper uses a crazy triplet flow while talking about his new luscious long hair and how he tells the truth “like a polygraph in a booth.” A true masterpiece. 

The third elite song in the streak, “Summer Reign,” makes me want to reminisce on the beach with the wind in my hair, maybe with a tear rolling down my cheek. And it’s all because of the wawa-guitar loop paired with the God-given voice of Ty Dolla $ign.

All in all, there is not one skip on this album. No song is lower than a 7.5/10. That being said, The Alchemist will forever be on the hip-hop producer Mount Rushmore, and this album definitely deserves a listen.

Trial Track: “Palisades, CA”

Score: 8.5/10


Action Bronson and Earl Sweatshirt at MTELUS

MTELUS was packed for a hip hop rendez-vous

Rap fans of all ages gathered at MTELUS in Montreal last Wednesday, as a duo of lo-fi hip hop mastodons Action Bronson and Earl Sweatshirt were headlining their NBA Leather tour accompanied by Boldy James & The Alchemist as their opening act. Fans were waiting patiently for both Bronson and Earl to come out and perform.

The show started off with Californian producer, The Alchemist, coming on stage and warming up the crowd, playing some of his more popular beats. Detroit rapper and Boldy James joined The Alchemist to perform their opening set. James’ set was definitely entertaining, with him playing most of his classic songs, and at least half of his 2021 amazing collaboration album with The Alchemist Bo Jackson, but his performance didn’t do justice to the quality of his music. 

James’ music is more based on him spitting bars over a smoothly sampled instrumental. This style of rap is harder to decipher at a concert, resulting in the performance lacking a bit of energy, making it harder for people to connect with the music. Nonetheless, he still delivered a satisfactory performance and set the table well for the other artists yet to come.

The next artist to perform was Earl Sweatshirt, who delivered a solid performance, rapping most of his latest album SICK!, and some key songs off of his other records. The crowd lacked energy at the beginning of his set, but once he played his meme song “EAST,” they picked it up and started moshing. Earl was the chillest and most laidback guy ever. He had no difficulty showcasing his funny, nonchalant and sarcastic side we all came to know and love from his days as a part of Odd Future. Earl’s set was able to make people feel a plethora of different emotions. 

The last but not the least artist performing was New York MC Action Bronson, who delivered a super loud and “in your face” set. Contrarily to Boldy James, his music sounded even better live. He was super theatrical with his rapping and the fans were really engaged in his set. It was definitely surprising to not see him rap much of his new album Cocodrillo Turbo as he only performed a song or two off of it, regardless, it was still great to see him live.

Whether it was Boldy James’ gritty sound, Earl Sweatshirt’s more laidback and posed attitude, or Action Bronson’s aggressive and energetic performance, everyone brought something different to the table that saw fans feasting through it all.


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