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Nov 7 - New Alchemist Interview [Complex Magazine]

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  • Nov 7 - New Alchemist Interview [Complex Magazine]

    The Alchemist

    Five contradictions from the best producer/MC to rep the 90210 (sorry, Brian Austin Green).

    As told to Richard “Treats” Dryden

    1. I went to school with a lot of actors and rich people. You know, Angie Voight, who became Angie Jolie; Milla Jovovich, who used to go out with Seth from Crazy Town; Balthazar Getty; and Scottie Caan…
    But when you’re young and around all this money you just don’t think about it. I go back to Beverly Hills now, and that shit is ridiculous, what we grew up around.

    2. I’ve worked without smoking weed to make sure I can. And when it’s time to promote, I try not to smoke. It puts you in kind of a catatonic state…
    But sometimes the weed puts you in a demented state of mind and you need that when you make beats. We tend to use it like gasoline, like, “All right, we empty? Gotta get some more.”

    3. Sometimes, Mobb Deep has had to flip on people [who have a problem with me being white]: “He’s one of us! I don’t give a fuck if he’s white or not!”…
    But the white and black thing wasn’t automatic. Prodigy is one of the most skeptical people on the planet. For years, he thought I was an FBI agent sent in the form of a producer to infiltrate his circle.

    4. Being Eminem’s DJ was bigger than being the Alchemist…
    But the best of my connection with Em hasn’t happened yet. He is intense these days as a producer. The way he writes his rhymes, that’s the way he’s making his beats. His sound is big and cinematic, mine is stripped-down and raw—I think it would make it dope, we’d meet somewhere in the middle.

    5. I don’t think I get a response at all as a rapper. People don’t really know…
    But I’m confident in my ability to rhyme. I’m about to be 30. Girlfriend, kids, none of that shit is an issue to me. I dedicate every day of my life to doing this rap shit. So I think when people hear my album, they’ll go, OK, he’s giving us that.

    The Alchemist's Outtakes

    Get up on the rest of our interview with The Alchemist that didn't make it into the November issue.

    Complex: Everyone knows Scott Caan and you were tight as a part of the Whooliganz? Did you have other famous friends growing up in LA?
    Alchemist: Scotty, who's James Caan's son. You know Angie Voight who became Angie Jolie, we all went to school with her, Mila Jovovich, who used to go out with Seth from Crazytown, we were all a part of a crew together. Balthazar Getty, we all went to school with him. There's so many names, if I go back. I grew up with Jermaine Jackson's kids?both his daughter and his son are good friends of mine. Kareem Abdul-Jabaar's son used to go to our school. Not only that, Ted Field's daughter was a good friend of ours. We used to hang out Ted Field's house when we were young. That was like the hang out spot. We used to write graffiti on the walls in her room, and fuck the place up. I'm looking back on it like, ?yo that crib was incredible.' But when we were young, we used to run through there, do nitrous, fuckin' smoke weed, eat mushrooms and just trip out at this crib. I never really realized where I was, because when you're young and you're around all this money, everybody's parents had all these big cribs, you just don't think about it. When I go back to Beverly Hills or LA sometimes, I'll take Prodigy or Twin, drive them through there, and they're just in awe at the cribs. Then I start realizing like, "Yeah, fuck man" this shit is crazy after being gone for 10 years.

    C: What were some of your earliest memories coming up as a producer before you hooked up with Mobb Deep?
    Alchemist: When I moved to New York, I remember going to the studio for Roc-A-Fella, with Jay-Z and Biggs, and I remember S&S was there and this was when they just signed Beanie Sigel and I had a DAT tape with like 15 beats. And they was loving every beat on the DAT. They was like, "Who? You made this shit? This you?" I wasn't even saying shit. I just went in, played them my beats and it was the same theory when I was young saying raps. Like, I'm just playing my music. They looked at me one way when I came in, and then after playing the beat CD they were kind of looking at me a different way?understanding, ?OK, you made all those beats?aight, damn, ok?' It was like a different respect. I started peeping that like ?OK, if this is how I gotta get my respect this is how I gotta get it' because I started as a rapper.

    C: What were the other secrets to your success?
    Alchemist: There was a period when I was just heavy on that. "Fuck it, who's doin' an album? Who's working? Who's there?" Show up. Call the dudes, come through with the DAT tapes. I would see other producers like, El-P, DJ Scratch, there's a couple of other producers, Rockwilder, Nottz, Diamond, there's a lot of cats that were grindin'. Anytime someone would have a studio session and be working on their album, 9 times out of 10 one of them would be there too, come through and play beats. We'd see each other and form a circle of producers that were all in the loop at the time. I'd see El-P and he'd come to P's session. We'd be playing beats. He'd be like, "Yo come by tomorrow, CNN are working tomorrow." I'd come by, that's how I gave him "Bang Bang." We would all kind of look out for each other. That was just he motivation to get my name everywhere?doing beats for everybody and develop my own sound and name.

    C: Especially Mobb Deep.
    Alchemist: It took a long time until I got down with them to where it was like, "Yo Al!" [laughs] It was a very long time. Those guys have a lot of deaths through their circle and they're leery just being from Queens in general. The white and black thing too wasn't like automatic, me being a white dude, just the whole shit. P is one of the most skeptical people on the planet. For years he thought I was an FBI agent.

    C: Haha!
    Alchemist: I swear to God. Recently I was like, "Are you kdding me?" He's like, "Nah." So I was like, "When did you realize I wasn't?" "When I saw you making the beat son!" For years, they thought they were gonna send an agent in the form of a producer to infiltrate his circle.

    C: So what happened the first time you went to Queens?
    Alchemist: First time in QB?

    C: You go there pretty regularly now, right?
    Alchemist: Yeah. In the crew, no one is really trying to be there too much. The ?hood is the ?hood and there's a lot of good things about it and a lot of bad things. I look at Queensbridge sometimes as a trap for the homies. Because that shit wasn't designed for you guys to come up. The fact that Nas came up and y'all came up is against?whoever designed the projects are angry at y'all because you guys fucked the whole system up. You guys made through it. They were trying to keep y'all in a circle. That place is designed for people to kill themselves. They drug your soul there, people go to jail for the rest of their life in that little circle, they don't ever leave that block. That shit is designed to fuck you up. So I don't be preaching too much like?one thing about Queensbridge whatever it was, it developed a lot of talented people through that struggle like Marly Marl, Nas, Mobb Deep. Any kid just on the block over there who's rapping is probably nine out of ten better than most people.

    C: True. So how have you grown as a rapper on your second album?
    Alchemist: Like, with my album, I knew I stepped up more on the rhymes because I felt like, I want to separate from DJ Drama and DJ Khaled. They're dope and what they do is great. But what I do is different because I'm more of an artist. I'm inspired by J. Dilla. He did the "Rough Draft" album six years ago and MCA didn't want to put it out, and they fronted on him, and he passes away, and years later it comes out and it gets this underground cult following. It just told me, "Fuck that, you know how many songs I got in my computer that I recorded?" I'm not gonna wait ?til I pass away so somebody can get my music and put it out unmixed and then everyone loves it. If they love it unmixed, then they'll love it now if I put it out.

    C: What impact did the bus crash on the Anger Management tour have on your career?
    Alchemist: I mean, it was really surreal. When I think back on it, it was like a fucking weird dream. It was like the shit really happened, but it really didn't happen. Like visually it was all slow motion when it happened because I was awake, I got to watch it sliding and flip and I remember when the shit was flipping I didn't know if I was going to live. But then when it stopped and I didn't pass out, I was like alright cool, I lived, let's get back on the road. I didn't realize it was going to affect my whole life. It was like I made it, cool, let's get to the next spot. I didn't realize my brother fucking broke his neck and had a punctured lung. Immediately I was like let's keep it moving because you have to understand I was at the height of our whole shit. I had already come out with the album, already done Deep's?that was considered classic, and then boom I'm on the road with Em.

    C: Yeah you were his DJ on the tour.
    Alchemist: That opened up so many doors for us that we couldn't open before, just on a bigger scale. I admit, it was humbling, but being Eminem's DJ was bigger than being the Alchemist. It was embracing that and realizing, where is this going to take us. It seemed like, it wasn't the accident that did it, but ever since that shit it fucked a lot of things up. The tour got thrown off, my brother got hurt real bad and it kind of put things in a weird turn. Since then I haven't been able to develop the way I thought me and Eminem was going to work. So the crash was really a pivotal point man. The fact that we lived through the shit was enough for me. After that I was like ?we lived, my brother God-bless made it through, they fixed his neck.' I still keep in touch with Em, I still DJ for him but it's on a music level.

    C: Do you have regrets about that?
    Alchemist: Nah because opportunity that I was given, we still seized it. I feel like the best out of my connection with Em hasn't happened yet. Once we get to making music that's when the world will appreciate that connection. And we haven't really got to that level yet. One because Em is intense these days as producer. I've been in the studio with him and he goes in with the beats. Really the way he writes his rhymes, if you've seen his papers and shit, that's the way he's making his beats. Really, he's totally in tune with the drum machine right now. So it's hard to get him another beat or a rhythm that's going to inspire him. I don't know for sure but even the Dr. Dre beats, I'm pretty sure he's like I got my shit, I'm zoning into my shit, I write to my beats. So he's really, as an artist coming into himself. So at this point it's hard, I'm pretty sure it's going to happen. Everyone was excited on the level that we are going to make some music together because being on stage with him was cool and I enjoyed it, it was an incredible feeling but I know we're supposed to make some music together because I can't help but feel like he can obviously help me on a level of just getting out to the world.

    C: How so?
    Alchemist: I feel like I can help him in a way of [being] in the street but the world that I'm in. Being in New York. I walk the streets every day, I'm out and about. I'm dolo, in the clubs, I live and breathe the shit because I'm not famous on a level where I can't do that shit. Em can't physically do the things that I do because of his level of fame. He would get bombarded. So, when we get to the point, I feel like at some point they're going to utilize me on that level. Like even on a co-production level. In the future I think me and Em have a lot of work to do on the musical level because I think I could bring that energy to the table, put it out there, bring it to him. He's a mastermind. If anything I would bring it to him, load it into him, let him compute the things that I'm going through, the sounds that I'm finding. Let's interpolate this Eminem style.

    C: What's the differences you notice between your style and Eminem's?
    Alchemist: His sound is so big and cinematic. My shit is more stripped down and raw, I think it would make it dope, we'd meet somewhere in the middle. And I know it will happen eventually.

    Originally posted by midwestwitch
    If I were to find out it was you would be responsible for a teenage boy losing every ounce of a social life, cell phone, gaming consoles etc until he graduated high school and left for college.

  • #2
    I wonder how it would sound if him and Em made a beat together. their styles are so different.
    I’m here, I’m present, I’m suffering



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