The Alchemist: Eminem's Official DJ
Alchemy: n. The miraculous power of transmuting something common into something precious.
Websters Dictionary (1998)
Much has been written about the Beverly Hills bred Producer/MC/DJ known to the world as The Alchemist. I set out to uncover the truth. In a HHDX exclusive, The Alchemist talks about sampling, bi-coastal beef, versatility, and confirming his appointment by Interscope/Shady/Aftermath as official DJ for Eminem on the Anger Management III tour.
HHDX: What were the old days like, with DJ Mug, and Cypress Hill?
Alchemist: I was young, you know, just coming up. I tried to be like a sponge, to soak everything up. Those were my learning days, playing the background, carrying crates, playing my position, just being there, you know?
Young is an understatement, even by todays standards of entertainment talent. The Alchemist first surfaced in 1993 as a tag-team member of The Wooligans, courtesy of DJ Muggs. His clear talent for production garnered attention on Cypress Hill, House of Pain, and Goodie Mob tracks...And yes, I did just mention Cypress Hill and Goodie Mob in the same sentence, stick with me.
It wasnt long before he became a staple with underground beasts Dilated Peoples, rocking shows with live energy and beats that seemed to bully crowds into throwing their hands up. All of this, of course, is documented history. Unfortunately, I wasnt after history, I was after the truth.
I couldnt figure out how a dude with such a hall of fame resume could be so versatile. Since those early days, The Alchemist (affectionately referred to as Al by those who know him) has created beats for Big Daddy Kane, Fat Joe, Big Pun, Linkin Park, Capone N Noreaga, Ghostface Killah, JadaKiss, Mobb Deep, Nas, Pharoache Monch, and Snoop Dogg.
And those really are just a few...check out www.alchemistbeats.com for the complete discography.
HHDX: Since then youve worked with an amazing variety of artists. Whats the key to being both successful and versatile?
Al: I think success and versatility go hand in hand. I think in order to be successful you need to be versatile. People break that mold sometimes by just keeping it on one page, but versatility... especially when it comes to music... it just shows your strength. I think even more so as a producer than a rapper, because its kinda our job to be able to mold them (artists) into different shapes, whereas the artist has to know what hes about and stay true to that.
HHDX: Youve held it down coming from California, and yet it certainly can be argued that a lot of your best work has been with east coast artists. What was your perspective on the East Coast/ West Coast controversy that nearly consumed hip hop during the 90s?
A: Honestly, It didnt really... it didnt really have that much of an effect on me. I was already inside the industry- I wasnt really a fan at that point, so I knew that it was a bunch of nonsense. Something fabricated by a magazine or something taken out of proportion.... When people started getting killed, it was like a bad joke that went too far. At the end of day I think it was all just fabrication, basically.
HHDX: Have you ever come across any challenges with being a white producer?
A: Ahh.. Not really. I am who I am, and I think that the music speaks for itself. I mean, we all have stuff that we gotta deal with, but you know, I cant say that I have.
Thats easy enough to understand. What we have here is a case of a guy whos one of the best in the world at translating raw emotion into sound. Why should we expect anything less than a straight-shooting call-it-like-I-see-it type dude?
HHDX: With the technology explosion of the information era, is it easier to sample?
A: I think digital technology is enabling people to bring out their ideas or whatever. I dont think that its gonna necessarily make people more creative...you still gotta have the creative mind and ideas. I mean theyve just created machines that enable people to do the same things people been doing for along time. It doesnt matter how much technology you have, if you dont have that creativeness it doesnt matter.
HHDX: In 2002 The Source Magazine listed you (along with Dr. Dre, Mannie Fresh, Timbaland, and The Neptunes) as one of the top producers of the year. What do you make of their recent legal and alleged financial troubles?
A: I dont even know enough about it to even comment on it...Ive been kinda trapped in the lab lately.
Kinda Trapped? Once again an obvious understatement. Last year, besides his highly anticipated release 1st Infantry on ALC/Koch Records he also executive produced Dilated Peoples sophomore album Neighborhood Watch. I want the truth; I keep getting understatements.
HHDX: What was the drive behind 1st Infantry?
A: You know, first album. Id been producing for a long time coming up on everybody elses albums doing beats. And I kinda started making a name for myself like that to where people started to know who I was and get familiar with my beats. Even if I would just do one joint on an album. After a while I was like I wanna do my own album, so thats how 1st Infantry came about. I started calling my peoples that I worked with through the years, and they came through and showed some love, and we dropped a banger, you know? And that was it.
HHDX: So whats good with you and Eminem?
A: As far as the DJ thing, Ive been called on to handle the DJ thing for Em...
HHDX: How long has that been in the works?
A: It actually came up quite recently, even though Ive known him for a long time... obviously we have a relationship with Paul Rosenberg, Im managed by Goliath Artists, who also manage Eminem, Xzibit, Cypress Hill and I guess they were brainstorming and came up with the idea of me handling the DJ job for Eminem. So they came to me with it and I was like yeah, you know, lets do it.
HHDX: So break it down for me, what are your plans for the upcoming tour?
A: Well Im taking care of the shows on the Anger Management Tour III coming up. Im definitely taking the situation slowly... I know that one day it (the DJing) could potentially develop into something more. I got a lot of joints Ive been spreading around out there, I cant really say too much about that, but you know, Im a machine. Im just putting stuff out there for the streets.
In the wake of DJ Green Lanterns recent highly publicized exit from the tour line-up amidst reports of conflict arising from 50 Cents beef with Jadakiss, the simple truth is that The Alchemists addition to the tour re-solidifies a monster tour, which also features G-Unit, Lil Jon< and the East Side Boyz, D-12, Obie Trice, and the newly signed Stat Quo. The tour is set to kick off July 7 in Indianapolis.