When I listen to the intro track of Alchemist and Prodigy’s new album, Albert Einstein, I feel like I am transported to a new world; an older place, full of unwritten rules which collectively govern its inhabitants. The intentional presence of static and vaguely oriental instruments put the rapper and producer in an entirely new realm, reminiscent of aged Kung Fu films. The vibe of the record is orchestrated perfectly by Alchemist, who is as seasoned a producer as Bruce Lee was a martial artist. While the Shady Records music crafter provides the backdrops, it is Mobb Deep’s Prodigy who truly assumes the role of the fighter on this album.
“IMDKV” exemplifies this trend, with an absolutely vicious beat playing host to an onslaught of violent lines from the New York City MC: “You screamin’, see motherfucker, you screamin’ / Now I’mma have to stop that / Hand me the nail hammer and the baseball bat.” The entire song plays like a twisted horror score, evidently supporting the artistic choice to feature a ghoulish depiction of Albert Einstein on the project’s cover. Not every track plays like “IMDKV”, however. “Give ‘Em Hell” contains soulful production, further showcasing the dexterity of Alchemist. The song also includes Prodigy claiming to be the best rapper on the planet prior to stating that he is “spitting flames like a volcano,” which unsurprisingly comes off as unfortunately elementary. Poor lyrics can also be found on the following track, “Stay Dope”, in which a piano-based Alchemist beat is done an injustice due to the first verse, which could have been freestyled by an amateur rapper.
Despite these missteps, the album never hits rock bottom thanks to the stellar production and the persistence of Prodigy, who, in light of my aforementioned critiques, does still rap well. On “Death Sentence”, he acknowledges his esteemed standing in hip-hop: “Spit my timeless flow, my priceless lexicon.” There certainly is a timeless essence to Prodigy, who embodies the spirit of a hustler and the mind of a street-oriented individual. This mentality is highlighted on the phenomenal “Confessions”, in which P pens a detailed story accompanied by an orchestral ambience, courtesy of none other than Alchemist.
Albert Einstein began with the spoken words of an unknown narrator who gave differentiating praise to a rare man, a man “whose vision upsets the very foundations of the world as we know it.” Of course, this chronicler is referring to the renowned individual who inspired the title of Prodigy and Alchemist’s LP, but one cannot help and assume that these words are meant to describe Prodigy or Alchemist as well. While the words on their assumed influence might be a touch too much, P and Al both hold a sustained ability to create solid hip-hop decades into their respective careers. There is something genius about that.