Interview The Alchemist

06/09/2009 | Interview by The Unseen Hand with contributions from Nicobbl et JB (Traduction) | Version française

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A: Do you have a goal for the album, something that you want to accomplish?

Al: Yeah! I wanted to get the album in stores and have it sounds the way I wanted to. That’s it!

A: So we can say it’s already done.

Al: Yeah of course! Mission accomplished. I want the people to like it and I wanted to get it in stores and have it sounds the way I wanted to. I didn’t want to compromise no music. Even my single, the Maxwell’s record, it’s still me. It’s a dope record. I wouldn’t change anything.

A: It’s obvious that the Maxwell’s record is the one that has the potential to be the single. Do you have any idea for your next single?

Al: I don’t know, probably not. The whole album is the single.

Eminem A: I’ve read a review of your album on Allhiphop and they said that they were not happy that song with Eminem was just one verse long. What do you have to say about that?

Al: It’s better to be too short than too long, right? I’m sorry! As long as they don’t say that it is wack, I’m not mad about it. It was supposed to be a freestyle, Eminem came here to represent for the album. It served its purpose. It’s a dope record.

A: I’ve only heard the album once for now but I really like the fact that you put interludes on it. I think the art of interludes is missing.

Al: Yeah, that’s a character, especially with me not rapping. I mean, if I’m rapping, I’m doing it for fun. I’m not really putting weight on it. The interlude gave me an opportunity to be a little more expressive. It’s just me adding some more of my personality on the album. It’s not just a bunch of beats and rhymes.

A: Who are some of your inspirations for those interludes?

Al: There’s a lot: old De La Soul, a couple of Lox and Jadakiss’ one, N.W.A, a lot of West Coast interludes are always the best to me, Sir Jinx, Lench Mob and all that type of shit. They knew what they were doing.

A: N.O.R.E. has some dope interludes too…

Al: N.O.R.E.? Man, his whole life is an interlude!

A: (laughs)

Al: Everyday is a live interlude with N.O.R.E.

A: In those interludes, you always play characters off of the music industry. Are those inspired by real life situations?

Al: Yeah, it’s inspired a little bit by real life situations but I’m exaggerating them. There’s a lot of cornball shit that goes on. You gotta laugh at it.

A: These last years, your production’s style is, I think, less soulful and more synthetic. Is it something that was thought of or…

Al: [interrupting] Give me examples; based on your description like what beats are you making reference to?  I don’t really know what you mean but it’s interesting to me to see how people perceive the music I do.

A: You can’t compare for example, 'Win or Lose' from Mobb Deep and 'That’ll Work' from Three Six Mafia.

Al: Riiiiiiiiiight! Ok, I see what you’re saying. Could you compare 'Win Or Lose' to 'Smile'?

A: I can only say that both records sample soul record that would be the only comparison possible.

Al: Right, exactly! I mean, I guess. At the end of the day, it’s different sounds that you are leading towards. If I find a record or an idea that’s from a soul source, I’ll use it. I like every genre of music: rock is crazy right now; jazz, alternative…Different things inspire me. Who the hell knows what’s next? But I was definitely trying on this album from 'That’ll Work' to 'ALC’s Theme' to 'Keep The Heels On' to chop little pieces and swinging them around. I was definitely trying to make a style that I feel people can brand like: “Oh he turned the corner with some new shit but that’s him!” I just want people to recognize my sound. I want to brand my own little techniques because every time you make beats you discover new techniques. That’s some new shit I was trying.

A: I think that, and I’m not saying this being a dickrider, but I would say that you are at the top of your game right now.

Al: Good looking! Listen: I know a lot of people who are like super friends of mine, not friends, fans and all that. Slome of them would say: "I like the stuff you were doing before" the others "I like this beat but I preferred this one better." Everybody has different versions but me, in myself, I know, because I’m the person who has grown all these years, that the level I’m at now is better than the one I was before. I don’t know if every beat ends up being better and hits up people the same way but I know myself, technique wise, any beat or any loop I’ve done in the past if I was to do it today, I would do it better. Bottom line.

There’s nothing that I’ve ever did in the history of music that I think of that if I’d have to do it over today, I would fix like I could have done that a little better. It doesn’t mean the fans would like it better, I just know that I feel that way which is important when it comes down to me making new music. That confidence! Like I can flip shit any way A Game, the way nobody would do it because that’s me.

A: To me, “1st Infantry” is a dope album and I love it but you have really mastered your art on “Chemical Warfare”.

Al: Good looking out once again! You know what? With the beats, I had other records that I wanted to use and people, artists who was supposed to be on the album but at the end of the day, it was more about all these beats together making a sound or an album that sounds like it was a growth from the last one because I got to make sure that the beats are right. I can’t control how people are going to rhyme. I can make sure they are saying it right on the beat but as far as content, I can’t control the message of my album. At least, I can control the sound of it. Make sure it sounds like me right now.

A: I was talking to a couple of producers who are mostly unknowns and the first thing they told me was: “yeah but Alchemist used this “Clockwork Orange” loop for the song with Kool G Rap, this known loop for the song with Lil Fame etc.” But I was like, the way you flipped them loops, nobody would have flipped them like that!

Al: Yeah, I never worry about things like that because I know I’m gonna do it differently. As long as I don’t do it the same way somebody else did. Those are just sounds and inspirations. I’m in no competition with nobody like I found something you have, I know I’m gonna make it in a way that you won’t make it. I’m not worried about finding something that you can’t find and just using it. I used to get loops and get drums and put drums to loop like I chop a little bit of pieces, put it back together and add the drums to it but I’m bored. All I do is put drums to a loop! That’s nothing! I want to take these pieces and make some other shit. Listen: everybody does this shit, it’s not like I’m the inventor of what we are talking about. I’m just doing it my way.

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