The Alchemist

No Days Off

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Popular underground (and mainstream) hip-hop producer the Alchemist has been making beats for other people since the late '90s (Cypress Hill, Dilated Peoples, Big Daddy Kane, Ghostface Killah, Pharoahe Monch, and Mobb Deep have been among the recipients), but he's also a rapper himself, something he showed off on his 2004 album, 1st Infantry. No Days Off is the second official mixtape the Alchemist has released in 2006 (the first, which came out in April, was titled The Chemistry Files), and though the majority of the songs have guest MCs over his beats, the Alchemist is also able to show off his verbal prowess on five of the tracks (two of which are produced by other people), and he sounds pretty decent, too. It is, however, his beats for which he's known, and what makes No Days Off worth listening to. Though they're usually based off a repeating four bars, the Alchemist has always been able to make his production sound complex and interesting, using multiple, intricate layers that spread out subtly and quietly over one another, giving everything a near meandering feel while still maintaining a strict and generally uncomplicated rhythm track. He's also able to accommodate the styles of many different rappers, from the aggressiveness of Mitchy Slick and Xzibit on "Making Your Money" to the more introspective nature of the Dilated Peoples' Evidence on "Hot & Cold" or "It's Gon' Pop," which gives the mixtape a very completed and cohesive feel, despite the fact that it's pulled together from both previously released and unreleased tracks (something also helped, perhaps, by the fact that the Alchemist ties together each song with a little "no days off" hook). Even though No Days Off may be a mixtape between records, it's good enough to satiate Alchemist fans while they wait, however long it might be.

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