Review: Larry June & The Alchemist – The Great Escape

YEP! It’s that time again! It is Alchemist O’ Clock!

We have ourselves another collaboration album with all production done by the one and only Alchemist. This time, he’s teaming up with Larry June: a San Francisco, California-based rapper/singer who’s been doing his thing since 2006 aka The MySpace era (he actually started off networking off that platform). He’s been releasing projects since 2010 with many albums, mixtapes, etc. and he once even signed to Warner Records in 2014, but that didn’t hold up and was released as he stated he made more as an independent artist and has his own label, The FreeMinded.

He is often associated with artists like Post Malone, Joey Bada$$, Westside Gunn, and Curren$y among others, and the first time I heard a full album of his was 2022’s Spaceships on the Blade. From what I heard, the album was pretty good, and there was even a joint with him and The Alchemist on there called “Breakfast in Monaco,” one of my favorites on there.

Now we have a full project with these two, giving us 15 tracks and weighing in at 46 minutes with a slew of guest features like Action Bronson, Curren$y, Joey Bada$$, Big Sean, and Boldy James among others. Hearing singles like “89 Earthquake”, “Porsches in Spanish” and the one that started it all, “60 Days” with the rare Alchemist rap feature (well, he does rap with Evidence as the duo Step Brothers and with Oh No as the duo Gangrene), these tracks instantly got me excited for The Great Escape.

And so with that said, how’s the album?

First, I’ll start with the production, which is more in the lane of very chill, lax, and luxurious. Normally whenever you hear the word “luxury rap”, you often think of rappers bragging about the things they have, but it’s about the way you execute it and well, Larry June falls in line with rappers like Boldy James & Roc Marciano where they are very low-key with a slow flow and delivery. It’s not too shabby and the same can be said for his singing/crooning voice, especially in “60 Days.”

As I mentioned, this is luxurious/braggadocios rap but it’s not in your face or obnoxious about it but very chill and laid-back like ‘I got this expensive and lavish things around me’ but it does mention that he was flat broke, getting the bag, and of course him grinding to get to that level (which I’m gonna say if you have the energy to grind or hustle, then good. If not, that’s fine). Granted, sometimes that can either make or break if something is worth listening to or not but here, it does have more good qualities than bad.

The production overall is very chill and delivers on a lot of vibes throughout as you get the feeling of relaxing on a beach or a yacht, sipping on a drink while you’re lounging and just having a good time. That’s what I always love about the Alchemist’s production: it can sound like it has that street grit in it or switch to the most lush and chill sound that has you melt like butter on a steak before it gets basted.

Honestly, there’s a lot on here I like but the hardest part is thinking which track I like the most out of the 15 tracks.  “Solid Plan” has got some nice bars on there, especially from guest feature Action Bronson:

Sunk in the seat, Sopranos, seasons three (Uh)
Your bitch don’t even know how to season meat (What a fuckin’ shame)
I’m in a brand new Cherokee, I don’t worry about freezing sleet (Nope)
Sneeze in the face of your Jesus piece (Ha)
My brother Teddy made the fleece I’m wearin’ (Uh)
Now they got AI that could turn me into A.I. (Iverson)

“Palisades, CA” has Big Sean as a feature and he isn’t too bad here either. Here he goes on how he’s been on his supplements (Fish oils, chlorophyll, multis – basically, he’s gone all natural), and he does have some nice bars with this. Usually I’m hot and cold with Big Sean as a rapper but I do feel like he has made a decent verse with this.

I tell the truth like a polygraph in a booth
Feel like these rappers do when they pleain’ in front of the judge
‘Cause they feel like they havin’ to
Judicial system is not a system, it’s a trap for you, nigga

“Summer Reign” is easily one of the best highlights of the album as this is heavy on vibes in its production, along with Ty Dolla $ign doing the hook. “Orange Village” got an interesting beat going for it as it samples some of J Dilla’s work, and I want to say that one sound on here reminded me of the end sound of the Bond theme but that’s what I got from it. You also got verses from Slum Village on here as well.

“Art Talk” does have more of the slow building production from the Alchemist and seems like it’s fitted for Boldy James and lucky for us, he’s the guest feature on here.

Five-star trap spot (Damn), St. Regis, Marriott (Check)
Art talk (Yeah), Basquiat, never see me (Numbers), out a lot (Yeah)
Real estate (Check), private stock, ceramic brakes (Uh), black drop (Yeah)
Got it off the black top (Yeah), curtains when the mag pops

Them niggas that you told on, they just got released (Go home)
Blow so strong, the Pac-Man you feast
Snow cones in my masterpiece (Ayy), low pro rims factory
El Satchel Paige, what’s the fuckin’ verdict?
No more happy days, double cup of courage
Crabs in the barrel, he a fuckin’ Hermit (Uh-huh)
Youngest snatchin’ chains, tell him tuck his turkish

I’ll get the rest of the tracks with features out of the way here. “Left No Evidence” with rapper Evidence was dope with cinematic type production that sounds like we’re in a mafia movie. “What Happened in The World?” has a nice psychedelic sample going for it, and this is the 2nd time on an Alchemist-produced album that a Wiz Khalifa feature impressed me. “Exito” with Jay Worthy was pretty tight, and “Barragán Lighting” (which features Joey Bada$$ and Curren$y) got one of the smoothest and chill beats of the album overall, and all three rappers really did their thing.

As for the solo tracks I like besides “60 Days”: “Porsches in Spanish” was pretty dope as hell, “Ocean Sounds” and “Turkish Cotton” got some smooth vibes as well, and the finisher “Margie’s Candy House” has this therapeutic way of capping things off with the vocal sample, and this is more of a personal track of his coming up and how life changed for him since.

I noticed that like in the album “10” by Westside Gunn, the features do have a big presence here, with 9 tracks having them and 6 only being solo tracks, and I did tend to like the features on here as well as I liked Larry June’s rapping/singing on here. However, he doesn’t feel like an afterthought or a feature on his own album, and the features understood the assignment of the album. It’s a very chill, lax album that’s mostly on the luxurious side of things. It works with his style of rap and The Alchemist’s production on it.

The year is still young and The Alchemist could do another collab album with someone in his roster but for now, this was a great album and it’s perfect if you want something that’s less aggressive and more breezy in your hip-hop.

FINAL VERDICT: BUY IT. Get in…. we’re going on the Great Escape.

THE GREAT ESCAPE is on THE FREEMINDED/ALC/EMPIRE and is available on digital download and streaming services. Pre-orders for CD, cassette and vinyl are up and on this site.

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