The Alchemist – Russian Roulette album review

2012 is turning out to be a huge year for The Alchemist, as he’s gone into full overdrive mode. Producing all of OFWGKTA’s Domo Genesis’ No Idols, working on an album with Evidence under the Step Brothers moniker, and countless other records, it’s amazing that Alan Daniel Marman has had the time to put together the interesting think piece that is Russian Roulette. 

Showing just how extensive his record collection is, each track on Russian Roulette uses samples from Russian songs to create the beats. Marman takes it a step further and demonstrates how impressive his rolodex is by bringing in Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, Danny Brown, Schoolboy Q, and many others to lend a hand.

With a grand total of 30 tracks but a running time of only 45 minutes, the album ends up feeling incredibly schizophrenic and frantic because of the numerous samples. Just when the tempo speeds up and you think Alchemist has found a rhythm, he slams on the brakes and expects you to appreciate a slow jam (complete with saxophone solo) while a sample from Rocky IV plays and Ludmilla Drago laughs off accusations that Ivan was doping.

While disjointed, there are definitely brilliant moments to be found. The first single and obvious stand out track is “Flight Confirmation” featuring the always impressive Danny Brown and Schoolboy Q.  Marman does a great job of keeping the beat out of the way and keeping it simple as Brown dives in headfirst, slowly transforming his usual nasal flow into a threatening guttural rage.

“Oleg’s Flight” finds Fashawn taking on one of the best beats on Russian Roulette. As the horns build behind him, Fashawn proves to be up to the challenge as he stands his ground and complements the menacing bass and eerie choir. Heist movies everywhere would be lucky to have a song this outrageously cool-under-pressure play during the climax.

The Alchemist himself has said, “Russian Roulette is not an album,” and interpreting it as such will only lead to disappointment. Here, The Alchemist is flexing his musical muscles a little and letting you know that you should pay close attention.

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