It’s been ten years since a Caucasian male from the nice side of Los Angeles dropped his debut album.
1st Infantry became my official introduction to Alchemist. I might have heard some of his stuff before—I’m guessing “Worst Comes To Worst”—but this was the real introduction. This made me realize how talented he was.
I’m not sure what swayed me into checking out his album. Maybe it was my curiosity to seek out new music. Maybe it was album’s features.
That’s probably what it was.
The tracklist included The Game, T.I., Dilated Peoples, Lloyd Banks, Stat Quo, The Lox and Nas, all of whom I was listening to at the time.
Whatever the reason was doesn’t matter, I’m just glad I checked it out. The album blew my mind. The music was amazing. The beats were dope! I had never heard something like that before—at least, I think I hadn’t.
The hard drums and boom bap were there. The soulfulness I like was there. His brilliant use of samples, which I wouldn’t appreciate until a couple(?) years later.
1st Infantry changed the way I listened to music. I would begin to give other under the radar artists a shot, and check out their current body of work, and see whether I fuck with it or if I don’t. It opened up my ears.
The album exceed my expectations, well, did I even have expectations? Doubt it.
The album was such a nice surprise. Up to that point, I probably only heard the lead single, “Hold You Down,” so I was going off that. I didn’t really like the track but a lot of people who listened to mainstream music probably do, and could recognized it if you played it.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool, but it really didn’t do much for me aside from Prodigy’s opening verse.
I can’t believe how much this album affected me. It affected me in a way that “I-discovered-a-role-model-slash-idol-type-of-situation.” I had found an idol—for lack of a better word.
In the next few years, I would become a huge fan of Alchemist. Everything he dropped, I would listen to. And most of the time, I would love it. My love and appreciate for the man, his music would grow as the years passed and I got older, realizing how dope he is.
Nowadays, you can see how much I fuck with this dude. I’ve dedicated a series of blog posts to the man’s work.
I’m glad I took a chance and check out this album. If I hadn’t listen to this album, I don’t know what would’ve replaced it. Would have I been a fan of a different rapper or producer? I’ve played these songs multiple times, if I had skipped over, what and who would’ve replaced those songs?
Who knows, I’m glad we didn’t have to find out.
This album is dope. Point. Blank.
From top to bottom, you get to hear amazing shit, some superior than others. Even if some of the rappers’ lyrics are not up to your standards, the beat will make it better. The beat could make a wack song from an amateur rapper sound dope. The beat is half the battle, if not, three-fourths of what leads to someone’s thoughts on a song—at least in my opinion.
Well, enough of that. Let’s get to the album. Here is a track-by-track breakdown, and my thoughts on each one.
The intro is crazy. It’s like a brief highlight of Alchemist’s work. You hear a man’s voice say remember before a snippet of “The Realest,” “Keep It Thoro,” “We Gonna Make It” and “Worst Comes To Coast” is heard. Then, Prodigy tells us it’s time. It’s time for the album. Prodigy’s voice fades out, and you hear, whom I’m assuming is Alchemist, hitting the bong.
Dead Bodies feat The Game and Prodigy
The song is a banger. The beat is hard as fuck, but you already knew that.
The Game’s verse is ill. I probably know at least 75 percent of his two verses, while I know about half of Prodigy’s two verses. I liked how they went back and forth, no hook needed! Game’s third verse is my favorite. I usually rap along with it, and throw up the W when Game tells me to. Plus, I like how he kept it honest, and said he didn’t want magazine covers or recognition, he just wants a good looking industry women, here he namedrops Trina, but later namedrops another women.
Your Boy Al
What an interlude. The scratches are dope. The singer is great. When she sings “everybody’s pal,” I always lose my shit because, in a sense, Alchemist is pretty much everyone’s friend, he too likeable.
The Essence feat The Lox
This shit is hard as fuck too. Both the beat and the verses are tough. This beat fits perfectly with their rap style, hard rappers over hard beats.
In my opinion, Jadakiss had the best verse, followed by Sheek Louch and Styles P. All three kept it gully, kept it street. Jada’s using “calmate” and other Spanish words is dope. He let it be known in Spanish, before translating in English, that he’ll set you straight if you don’t know how to act that way.
Sheek’s bragging and shit talking is awesome. He sarcastically calls them killers before retracting it and saying they really aren’t.
Sheek rapped the following line, “Shit the West Coast barely know the name of our band, that’s why I spit enough heat to give a n—- a tan.” How much truth is in that statement? The Lox is hardly played out here, so people don’t really know of them. At most, people may know of Jadakiss and Styles because of their solo work but I doubt they heard of Sheek. That’s because they don’t cater to the mainstream nor are they from here. But if you’re a hip-hop listener and did some research, you know of them. The last part of the line is brilliant. Sheek’s wordplay, damn.
Hold You Down feat Prodigy, Illa Ghee and Nina Sky
Ah, the lead single. It’s a cool song. The making of the song was dope. You get to see Alchemist messing with a keyboard as Prodigy makes adjustments and edits to his verse.
Industry Rule 4080
Another interlude. This time Alchemist meets the stereotypical music executive who has no idea who he is.
Stop The Show feat Stat Quo and M.O.P.
An unusual combination, but it works. This song is energetic, like I just want get up and fuck shit up. Partial credit to the beat and the other to the rappers, especially M.O.P. whose quick verses are energetic. Back then I used to listen heavily to Stat Quo. His voice is unique. So, I gravitate towards his verse more than the legendary duo’s. However, all three rappers did great.
D Block To QB feat Havoc, Big Noyd, Styles P and J-Hood
Alchemist grabbed two of the four members of D-Block, one from Mobb Deep and one from the Mobb’s affiliates and threw them on a song. This song was okay. I would put most of the album above this track. At the end of the song was an attached skit that, this time in the form of a radio newsflash.
Bangers feat Lloyd Banks
This is one of my favorites off the album. I wouldn’t have pictured Banks on an Alchemist beat, but it did. Banks flows well over this dope beat. His verses are examples of what made me a fan of his, his slick metaphors and clever wordplay.
This also had an interlude attached to the end of the song. The music executive tries to sway Alchemist into signing with him by telling him he’ll give him the finer things in life.
Where Can We Go feat Devin the Dude
The song is smooth. Devin really makes the song his with his singing. This smoothness combined with Devin’s pimpness is a win.
It’s A Craze feat Mobb Deep
This song was okay. I wasn’t really fucking with it. I can’t like everything.
For The Record feat Dilated Peoples
This is my favorite song on the album. From the beat to the verses, I fuck with all of it. Evidence and Rakaa rapped good, informative verses, telling us what they’ve done in their careers—hence the title, for the record.
Who else could brag that one of the best friends is the best producer he knows? Not many.
Boost The Crime Rate feat J-Hood and Sheek Louch
The song is cool. The hook is dope. The beat is infectious because of that strange sound in it, you know which I’m talking about. Another skit was attached to the end of the song, talking about a mythical object.
Strength of Pain feat Chinky
I had never heard of Chinky, back then nor have I heard anything recently. I didn’t know she was a female singer. I wish Alchemist jumped and rapped on this beat or any rapper for that matter. The beat is dope. It’s slow and smooth, perfect or anyone with a slow flow to kill it.
A Soul Assassins Tale
Another interlude. This time a young Alchemist, in the present, is being taught some valuable lessons by an OG. It reminded me of Don’t Be A Menace… because of Alchemist’s voiceover, much like the movie’s protagonist Ashtray does.
Bang Out feat B-Real
This song grows on me every time. B-Real blesses Alchemist with a few verses. The two Soul Assassins members mesh well together.
Plus, there’s another interlude attached to the end of the song were the music executive continues to try to sway Alchemist.
Tick Tock feat Nas and Prodigy
This is one of the best songs on the album. Queensbridge represent! The beat is funky and smooth, perfect for Nas’ and Prodigy’s storytelling. Both veteran rappers brought it with their verses. I can’t help but rap along to Prodigy’s verse when he says “…always got shot up.” What a great song.
Pimp Squad feat T.I. and PSC
This song was okay. I just wished it was just T.I. Nothing against the Pimp Squad Click, but this beat seemed to fit T.I.’s style.
Different Worlds feat Twin
Two rappers born in different worlds collide, hence the song’s name. This song is dope because of the lyrical content.
Two different people from different sets of life, one grew up in poverty while the other in a life of luxury. Although Big Twins and Alchemist came from different paths of life, they both met in the middle: their love for hip-hop. Their paths might have been different, but they found they weren’t that different at all. Both loved rap and smoking weep.
The beat is dope but the lyrical content should be the main focus here.
Overall, the album is dope. Not only did I get to hear some crazy beats and dope raps, I was properly introduced to a producer who would impact my life, as far as music goes. So, thank you Alchemist for this great album that made a great impression on me, and for being a dope producer/rapper.