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The Alchemist: Russian Roulette [PA] [Digipak]

Track List

>Apollo's Last Stand - (featuring Ag Da Coroner)
>Crushed Kremlin - (featuring Meyhem Lauren)
>Decisions Over Veal Orloff - (featuring Action Bronson)
>Learned by Listening
>Training Montage: Getting Stronger
>Ivan's Workout Plan
>Never Grow Up - (featuring Evidence)
>Turning Point, The - (featuring Roc Marciano)
>Live from Dynamo Stadium 2
>Don Seymour's Theme
>Before the Fight Prelude
>Adrian's Words - Champion Song
>Flight of the Bumblebee
>Kalashnekov Guns - (featuring Guilty Simpson)
>Fight Confirmation - (featuring Danny Brown/ScHoolboy Q)
>Press Conference Prelude
>Freakish Strength
>Junkyard Fight Scene - (featuring Durag Dynasty)
>Oleg's Flight
>Moscow Mornings - Sunrise
>Moscow Mornings - Sunset
>Kosmos, Pt. 1 - Liftoff, The - (featuring Chuuwee)
>Kosmos, Pt. 2 - Power Glove, The - (featuring Boldy James)
>Kosmos, Pt. 3 - In Orbit, The
>Kosmos, Pt. 4 - Moon Probe, The - (featuring Big Twinz)
>Kosmos, Pt. 5 - 1st Contact - The Chase, The
>Kosmos, Pt. 6 - Life On Another Planet, The - (featuring Willie the Kid)
>Kosmos, Pt. 6 - The Explanation, The - (featuring Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire)
>Kosmos, Pt. 7 - Return to Earth Outro, The

Album Notes

Although he's worked with some of rap's biggest hitmakers -- Eminem, Nas, Fat Joe, and so on -- producer the Alchemist is a rangy dude, hanging those platinum albums on the wall on one hand, while sticking with underground thugs like Mobb Deep through thick and thin on the other, all while keeping his left-field rep in check by wilding out with producer/rapper Oh No in the Gangrene project. Coming hot off the heels of Gangrene's Vodka & Ayahuasca -- a very '70s and very psychedelic album -- Russian Roulette is the Alchemist going solo and thematic, constructing tracks by sampling old Russian records -- jazzy, psychedelic, soulful, and otherwise -- and grabbing some dialog from '80s movies that were cold war-themed. His final touch is the jaw- droppingly excellent guest list that contributes to these 30 short tracks, all strung together for an album meant to be taken as a whole. That last bit of advice comes from the Alchemist himself, and it's certainly the best plan, as these shards of tight-knit '70s pop loops, jazz drum breaks, and funky bass beats -- all of them feeling very Euro-sourced and not necessarily Russian -- are arranged like a wild mixtape from the edge. This cohesive piece is still dotted with stand-out moments, including Action Bronson doing his usual, magical food thing ("Decisions Over Veal Orloff"), Danny Brown and Schoolboy Q teaming-up for a cut with that wild, Ol' Dirty Bastard bounce ("Flight Confirmation"), and Evidence returning for a cut which feels like the chilled follow-up to his previous great Alchemist team-up "So Fresh" ("Never Grow Up"). Those with a Soviet fetish could argue that past "Flight of the Bumble Bee" and the red scare artwork, the album doesn't deliver enough of the superpower's Cold War strut, but getting hung up on Russian Roulette not sounding Russian enough would be like complaining that the Beatles Revolver doesn't shoot straight. It's an amazing record even without the concept, comrade. ~ David Jeffries


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