Album Review: Gangrene (Alchemist & Oh No) – Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Oh, look at the time. Once again, it is ALCHEMIST ‘O CLOCK!

And we are in album review mode this time around but not on a solo Alchemist project. This time, him and fellow rapper/producer Oh No are together as Gangrene. As a duo, they have been doing projects together since 2010, and it’s been 9 years since their last couple of projects with the album You Disgust Me and the GTAV compilation album Welcome to Los Santos (as well as doing the music score of the video game alongside Woody Jackson and Tangerine Dream). Of course, Oh No has been doing his thing as well by producing for such artists as Elzhi, The God Fahim, working with his brother Madlib as The Professionals, and teaming up with Blu for their 2019 project A Long Red Hot Los Angeles Summer Night, which was a solid album when it debuted and made it on my best list of that year.

With this, I expected nothing but some grimy, dope bars and the usual eclectic production from them, and given that both Alchemist and Oh No are excellent producers in their own right, I was interested to see how this would go.

I got what I expected and it was a solid good time. Does it do anything new? Not really.

You do get some choice lyrics like:

Big Tyrannosaurus Rexin’ prehistoric flexin’
I spray 48, play hooky on the chorus section
Confess my sins, I hope the Lord accept it

To put it blunt, man, this ain’t a weed test, this a T-Rex
Ground shaker effects
Itchy trigger finger reflex
Keep pushing the button like a defective function in V-Tech

My DNA produces an evolution of velociraptors
Interredact those aeronautical fossils
You rap hostiles never live this colossal

All from the second track on the album “Dinosaur Jr.” with plenty of dinosaur puns worked into them. Not to mention the production on here has that one sample of 70s Saturday Morning Cartoon music, like it’s something out of Hanna-Barbera or any other retro cartoon.  Speaking of retro sounds, “The Gates of Hell”  (with guest feature ANKLEJOHN) has that grimy ’70s groove and sound that comes straight from a Fat Albert cartoon, especially from the bass.

“Cloud Surfing” has this easy listening/glistening sound, reminding me of what he’s done with Larry June projects or on Yacht Rock 2.

I never step from out the lodge without a check involved
Insert the needle into the groove and let the wreck revolve
I’m frozen, my cases never solved, never blown
Your rap is hovercraft fidgets, spinners and reggaeton
I’m sprinkling methadone on a cess bone
Disco ball, you shine a light on a Patek stone
Every card in the deck’s thrown

I have to say with the Alchemist and Oh No both doing bars and production on this, they have some good lines that went crazy, and the beats always got something intriguing about them, whether it’s a drumless loop, a sample that I have no idea what it is, a funky vibe or even sound bites into the song. While I’ve been praising The Alchemist numerous times for things, Oh No is also sharp in his pen and on the boards, too. His verse on “Espionage” got some good lines on there.

Goon shit, dirty ass room lit
As Dr. Death in the holy scrubs, rolling shrubs
It’s only nugs, and I don’t go to clubs
I’ll leave that for the youngsters and the thugs
This old man want that old money here to plugs
My nigga, that a touché or toupee?
They move dates and take two with two Ks
For loot crates and break through with hoodies like I’m Luke Cage

As for the rest of the album, there’s not much new to bring up aside from a Boldy James feature on “Just Doing Art,” where Alchemist utters this line: I’m short, I got a complex like Napoleon Bonaparte with a frozen heart. Not to mention the beat has this menacing and haunting vibe that works perfectly with their vocals. “You Should Join The Army” sounds like something you would’ve heard out of MF Doom and Madlib 20 years ago as the beat goes crazy on whatever sample included in there made it go like that. Closing the album with “Muffler Lung,” it’s got its classical music-style with the horns and the piano sounds like a concerto from someone from that classical era of musicians.

Overall, this album is nothing new coming from the duo, although there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. As the saying goes ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ and they still manage to make some good music. The beats are extraordinary different and unique, both Alchemist and Oh No deliver some solid bars and production, and it’s not too long of a project to go to.

FINAL VERDICT: BUY IT.  So, either way, I win with this album.

HEADS I WIN, TAILS YOU LOSE is on ALC Records; you can get the album via CD, vinyl, cassette, digital download via The ALC Records site or on streaming services as well.

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