My name is Francisco McCurry, I write for Potholes, and I’m an addict. Over the past three years I have written THOUSANDS of words related to the work of the Beverly Hills milk-gawd Alchemist. Both Gangrene albums, me. The EP with Roc Marci, that was me too. Al’s solo instrumental-slash-collaborative effort, yup. His free full-length with Bronsolinho, si tambien. Shit I even spilled digital ink on Evidence’s solo from a couple years back when I stated that Alchemist’s production is the best part. Lord Steppington is another in this seemingly endless line of great rap records connected to Alchemist, this time with the help of his longtime partner-in-crime Evidence.
Reading any of those reviews you can see I recycle adjectives like hippies in NorCal use hemp. So let me get these out the way: boom-bap, grimey, nasty, blunted and the ever evocative gully. On Lord Steppington ain’t shit new but the sounds. Ev and Al been putting it down since white label singles in ‘97 for ABB Records. These west Angelinos even blessed the majority of Defari’s excellent Focused Daily in ‘98, before anchoring Dilated’s debut The Platform in 2000. Over a decade later Evidence and Alchemist are still bringing the goodness. All the usual suspects are here as well: Bronson, Roc Marci, Oh No, and even a Blu verse that make me want an EP between him and Gangrene. (I even suggest y’all spend an hour with this Juan Epstein interview to see how this carousel of rappers and producers are creating so much great music with each other.)
As for the actual music Lord Steppington ain’t fucking around. The album’s second song “Dr. Kimble” is a menacing track that sounds like the part of a horror movie when the bloodied sexy girl runs through darkness as the killer pursues her methodically through mud. “No Hesitation” appears later as a somber violin sample and is manipulated to bounce over stealthy gong-drums that Styles P kills effortlessly with his end-verse. Then there is “Swimteam Rastas”, which sounds like a Vodka & Ayahuasca leftover gem, split into three cinematic beats that Ev and Al do nice work over. “Mums in the Garage” is the type of rap that kicks King Kong in the dick and pimp slaps him for acting up: that lovable gangster rap fantasia with a knockin’ beat. My favorite track here though is the lead single, “Step Masters”. It’s that simple rap-brag of “we’re the shit and you wanna be us” over some corroded-slap that makes one walk with a tough lean.
The album also has some thoughtful and conceptual moments in “Tomorrow”, featuring Rakaa and Blu in prime street poets mode, and “Draw Something”, with a rewind worthy verse from Oh No. In all honestly, Ev and Al’s raps are the weak link here–not wack, just not memorable. They’ve both had better moments, but even within these verses you can tell they’re just having fun. We all know the real star here is the production; deceptively experimental, there are soulful samples and grandiose drums that should be cranked to max volume whenever possible. This is a damn good way to start the rap fiend year. Now I will cease all Alchemist related writing activities to the team as a walk away like “Al Bundy with no horse-n-carriage”.
3.5 out of 5
You can buy Lord Steppington on Amazon.