This is written by the man branded MobbDeen, so you should already know.
Here are a few universal truths: death, taxes and the Alchemist being responsible for one of my favorite rap releases of any given year. Since 2007, the Alchemist has been responsible for critical favorites such as Prodigy’s ‘Return of the Mac (aka, ‘Resurrecting Albert Johnson’), Fashawn’s ‘The Antidote‘, Currensy’s ‘Covert Coup‘, Domo Genesis’ ‘No Idols‘, Action Bronson’s ‘Rare Chandeliers’, Willie the Kid’s ‘Masterpiece Theatre EP’ and Durag Dynasty’s ‘360 Waves‘. I’ll let you in on a secret: I LOVE ALL DEM SHITS.
It’s that automatic at this point. And I thought he’d already hit his quota for the year with his exemplary and under heard work on ‘360 Waves‘ and his and Prodigy’s ‘Albert Einstein‘, but I think he just topped himself – again. Boldy James and the Alchemist may have just dropped my favorite project of 2013 in the form of ‘My 1st Chemistry Set (M.I.C.S.)’.
There’s something to be said for the unified, cohesive and singular vision that ONE producer can give an entire project. Ask Pusha T or Juicy J in 2013. Not to go off on a history lesson tangent, but before the gawd Nas made it cool to go off and hire a buncha different producers on one project, a lot of rap’s early classics were helmed by one producer or a single production team. If you need examples, go kill yourself. But that approach to production kinda fell outta vogue for a bunch of reasons I don’t have the patience to delve into right now.
But I’m more than happy to pontificate about the merits of one producer handling an entire album. In this particular case, as we’ve long known, Alchemist’s simultaneously gritty and soulful sound is the perfect backdrop for the gulliest of rhymes. There’s a reason why the most arguably nihilistic rap group of all time have great chemistry with him. And Boldy James is one nihilistic guy, both in worldview and in vocal tone. The nigga really sounds like he doesn’t give a fuck about anything but selling drugs, killing niggas and counting money. I appreciate that kinda discipline. So naturally, he’s a perfect fit over ALC production.
While I’m on the topic of Boldy, I’d hate to make it seem as if the production does all the heavy lifting on M.I.C.S. – that’s far from true. Boldy’s been knocking around on the blogs for a little while now and those of us that fuck with that street shit could hear the potential, but he’s never quite put it together on any of his prior projects for a variety of reasons. Most of the time, his projects are just too damn long and quality songs get lost in the morass. Other times, there are too many useless fucking guests. Then sometimes the production just sucks. For the most part, Boldy is probably a bit too prolific given his talent and resources. He kinda treats rap like I imagine drug dealers treat their business: flood the block. That shit has never been a good idea with regards to the quality of the music – even when Lil’ Wayne was blowing up.
Teaming up with the Alchemist for an entire album eliminates all these potential pitfalls in one fell swoop. ALC usually limits collaborative projects to a max of 15 tracks (unless he’s doing his weird solo shit) and we have 13 here. Quality isn’t a problem because even the worst ALC beats sound great to niggas like me. Useless guests aren’t really a problem because Al only hangs out with dope rappers – like Action Bronson and my 2013 “Rookie of the Year” – Vince Staples. Boldy takes full advantage by revealing himself to be a really interesting narrator somewhere between Raekwon and Mase – with no fucking sense of humor whatsoever – in a good way. Just pay the man so he doesn’t have to kill you. He ruminates on loyalty, issues tons of threats, covers his trade with an amount of detail usually limited to The Clipse, and does a whole lotta translating for the uninitiated. And best of all, he actually elevates a number of the songs by providing full fledged hooks. That’s uncommon on these ALC helmed projects. Most rappers, no matter how good they are, tend to keep the hook stuff real skeletal on Alchemist beats. So yeah, Boldy definitely threw a surprise coming out party. Pause.