Legendary hip hop producer Alchemist’s latest EP This Thing of Ours Vol 2 is an impressive release, to say the least.
For a 12-minute experience, Alchemist packs in a huge amount of sensitivity, creativity and complexity. Working with a range of collaborators, each song segues into one another to form a singular experience, passing you by so quickly that you simply crave more. This is not, however, a criticism of the work, as this is a hugely satisfying listening experience filled with rich production and bursting with musicality. In just five tracks, Alchemist firmly cements his legacy as a leading hip-hop producer and master of his craft.
The crux of the excellence of this release lies in Alchemist’s ability to balance a strong sense of groundedness with ever-present fluidity. While the finer details of flow and lyricism are direct and clear, the verse structures are often continuous; supported by swirling, concentrated production. The musical ideas and samples woven into the fabric of each track interact freely with one another, to form layers of sound that are often pulsing with vibrancy; yet maintain a dream-like, transcendent quality.
Even in the darker soundscape of Lossless (feat. MIKE), the lethargic pace is driven forward by whimsical jazz inflections. Although there is an eeriness to this profound freedom, the music always remains within the realms of good, solid hip hop, with clear head-nodding drive and old school flows. The musicality of the production never outshines the guest rapper, with the sparse textures always putting the lyricism at the forefront of the music. This shows an excellent understanding of the genre and collaborators.
The artists featured on this release all perform excellently. Although they all maintain their own sense of artistry and individuality, there is a clear thread of direct and earnest lyricism running through all five tracks. Miracle Baby (feat. MAVI) takes a no-nonsense outlook (“It is what it is/And it’s not what it’s not”), whilst maintaining a dense rhyme scheme across the dense singular verse structure; with barely a pause for breath. These sentiments are most evident on Flying Spirit, on which four members of the Detroit collective Bruiser Brigade spit verses that flow almost seamlessly into one another. Amongst the earnestness, however, there remains a tongue in cheek flavour through intelligent wordplay (“I swear to God, it’s hard to take pics, when you pose a threat”) and bouncy delivery.
For such a flash-in-the-pan EP, This Thing Of Ours Vol. 2 leaves a powerful and lasting impression. This collection is a brilliant example of how working with a few, well-crafted elements and people can create a short, yet profound musical experience; that ends almost as soon as it arrives.
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