There are many hip-hop producers in the game that I admire for their production styles and the ways they resonate with the listener. Some examples include producers like Madlib, Knxwledge with his twisting of samples (especially with obscure stuff), the RZA with how he incorporates kung-fu movie samples and sounds in earlier Wu-Tang material, and of course there’s Kaytranada’s blend of funky synth-heavy production that make his work exciting to vibe and/or dance to.
But there’s one more producer I’d like to mention, and he’s the artist/producer du jour of this review: The Alchemist.
The man is a hip hop legend, rising to prominence in the late 1990s and becoming one of the leading producers of the 2000s, often producing tracks for such acts like Mobb Deep, Dilated Peoples, Curren$y, and Action Bronson among others. There are a lot of rappers/artists he produced in his 2-decade career on top of having done more collaboration projects than solo album material. In fact, I talked about one of them last year, the Freddie Gibbs/Curren$y project Fetti. Of course, he’s also half of the duo Gangrene alongside fellow producer/rapper Oh No.
Anyway, the album we’re talking about here is Yacht Rock 2, the sequel to his EP of the same name. Before this, I managed to listen to the first one which is 11 minutes of vibe-heavy beats with rappers like Action Bronson, Oh No, Big Twinz etc. In this sequel, you get twice the runtime: it’s 23 minutes and 12 tracks with some of the ALC’s usual but dope roster of talent like Big Body Bes, Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, The Griselda gang, and more. The major question here is: do I rock with this yacht?
Yes. Yes I do. Out of the bat, I’m straight loving this.
Now with The Alchemist’s production, you get that dirty, grimey type of beat that I hear and often love, but then you’ll get this dreamy, lavish, luxurious production that feels like walking into a classy establishment. Then you hear these guys rap, and it mixes both of these here along with some dialogue to mix things up and just to not slow things down All of these tracks fit the featured rapper’s style and their content really well.
One track that easily caught my ear was “Sand Castles” which features Benny the Butcher & El Camino: both of them bring out their cocaine raps on this backed by a somber and mellow beat.
Say hello to the good guy, at least I used to be
On tour, shows looking like Woodstock, it’s kinda new to me
All these sticks, got it like wood shop, I keep like two or three
Plus my bitch body in tip-top, I push the Masi’ in flip flops
I run around with this big Glock
Drive through Cleveland with a brick, hit your town for a pitstop
You know that swish shot?
It make the same sound when my wrist lock
Speaking of Griselda, of course the rest of that crew gets a track here with Conway the Machine and Westside Gunn appearing on “Eastside” where, again, these rappers bring out some grimy, hard bars on the mic as a reminder why I always look forward to hearing anything from that crew.
Now granted, this is a short album, and I’m fairly satisfied with it, but that also means some tracks are going to be really short (like a minute short). A few examples of those would actually be the first 3 tracks (minus the intro) with “Uptown Aquarium”, “Tropical Storm Lenny” & “Sex at the Fountain-Bleu” featuring Big Body Bes, Action Bronson and Meyhem Lauren respectively. None of them are bad tracks (hell there isn’t a single track that I hated), but there’s just some that left me wanting more.
“Boat Shoes” has the horns coming in with a weird synthesizer effect, and this time the Alchemist raps on here along with Oh No (making this a Gangrene joint), and their bars, especially Oh No on the second verse, kill it.
I never said I came to re-invent the wheel
But I don’t roll with the squares, it’s blockin’ out a nigga skill
Posted in my pajamas in my Hugh Hef
Pavin’ the way, see, I can show y’all a new step
Or take it to the head like Russian Roulette and gamble thoughts
The cost crossed ’em off and thrown like a lacrosse toss
Shit, I’m slumped on the throne like a drunken boss
Sittin’ on the wave still, supplier’s an albatross
I need space like astronauts
Another track I want to give a highlight is the one from Roc Marciano with “Harry O,” and while the verse was short, Roc delivered with his monotone yet smooth delivery on this more low-key production that’s a type fitting of the style on his own solo material.
In short, while this album may leave you wanting more of what it brought, this is a fantastic album full of The Alchemist’s lush and dreamy production that still has that signature grimy street narrative courtesy of the rappers here doing their thing. After the first few listens, I immediately always go back to my favorite tracks, and that’s proof enough that it’ll probably be on my album of the year list by the end of 2019.
FINAL VERDICT: Buy it. This album rocks and it’s definitely fitting for the final days of summer.
Yacht Rock 2 is available on streaming services and a music visual of the entire album is also available on his Youtube page.