What makes Hip-Hop beautiful and dynamic is the widespread collaboration among artists, even those that, on paper, make as much sense Spike Lee and Quentin Tarrantino making a film together. Take the Alchemist. As a producer/emcee he’s worked with a who’s who of grimy, thugnificient acts, Mobb Deep chief among them. In the other corner we’ve got none other than Madlib’s little brother, Oh No.
Oh No made his debut on the Lootpack’s backpacker cult classic Soundpieces: Da Antidote, a bevy of raps dissing wack emcees from the first track to the last over Madlib’s brilliant production. How would a marriage like this work? Surprisingly well, in fact. Oh No and Alc met at the show of a mutual friend, emcee/producer Evidence of Dilated Peoples fame, and soon thereafter Gangrene was born. The unlikely duo has already released a critically acclaimed full length album, Vodka and Ayahuasca, and they’re still coming with quality ish at a breakneck pace with the FreEP Odditorium.
Odditorium is a seamless amalgamation of the gritty and grimy steez endemic to Alchemist’s style and Oh No’s mad scientist sampling and thump heavy concoctions. Oh No and Alc spit fun and egotistically indulgent verses of mutual one-upmanship over the four tracks of the project but it’s hard to begrudge them the artistic license to do so given the work they’ve put in behind the boards. With beats like this, lyrical tour de forces aren’t necessary. The duo’s different production styles complement each other perfectly. Alchemist’s production has always been a little too sparse for a lot of head’s tastes but Oh No’s input gives the tracks on Odditorium a fully fleshed out feel.
Alchemist’s sensibilities are apparent in his ability to restrain Oh No from going all the way out to left field and it helps keep the project more of a beats and rhymes endeavor than a purely instrumental venture. It’s like the stick-up kid and the b-boy met up, smoked some ridiculous buds together, and threw a bunch of ish at the wall to see what would stick. And it all sticks. “Fly Brothers,” the closing note of the EP, is a clinic for any would-be beatsmiths out there to learn from, from the chopped up vocals to the flip of the guitar sample they got God knows where.
“Your rappers favorite rapper” is a familiar term, but how about your producer’s favorite producer? Oh No and Alchemist as Gangrene are a creative match in heaven and Odditorium, despite its brevity, is one of the best this reviewer had heard in a long while. The raps aren’t great but they don’t sink Odditorium by distracting or detracting from all the little things these two cats do so well on the production tip. Kudos to Evidence for being the link that enabled Gangrene to hit Hip-Hop with some needed progressive sickness to shake things up a bit after flirting with death for so long.
Out of 5
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