Alchemist has been putting in an incredible amount of work lately. The legendary producer is hot off of a Grammy nomination for the Freddie Gibbs collaboration Alfredo and a slew of other collaborative projects. With this new EP, titled This Thing Of Ours, Alchemist taps in with rappers Navy Blue, Boldy James, Sideshow, Pink Siifu, Maxo, and Earl Sweatshirt to deliver a chill atmosphere that highlights the rappers’ elite level pen game. With only eight tracks on the project (the latter four of which are instrumentals for the former four), This Thing Of Ours makes use of short time and sees Alchemist doing what he does best: elevating rappers’ game.
Navy Blue and Earl both display a masterful command of their craft on the opening track “Nobles”. Navy Blue starts off his verse with some beautiful imagery before passing the mic off to Earl, “Depths of the man that I was from the start/Stay next to the fam, got a place in my heart, chest/Breath on demand”. Earl comes in and interweaves his bars into the track seamlessly, “The rest of the plan got scrapped when I landed, invested in arts/I do less when I stretch ‘fore I hit the bar”. The pair set the tone for the rest of the project with their signature laid back cadences and prose style writing.
“TV Dinners” is another great track that includes some of the strongest verses on the entire project. Sideshow opens the track detailing the state of his internal turmoil, “It’s off the strength, blood, muscle, and bone/Got it off the stress, weed, broken flip phones/Me and the homies have needs, so we kicked in the door/Goin’ through shit, I’d rather cry on my own”. Boldy James follows this up with some dense lyricism of his own, “Blew a fifty on a Dwele, with girly out in LA/Tryna stick me, gotta get up earlier than Thebe/Goyard skully, gazin’ at the stars in the Culli’/It’s still Hell Block hully-gully”. Both rappers prove to be in top form here as they spit over some fantastic Alchemist production.
The lengthiest track on the project, “Holy Hell”, gives listeners a ton to chew on. Pink Siifu paints a vivid picture with his words in such a way that only a true elite level emcee can, “Blow kisses, they lost souls, remember taking too long/But all this fly take time, mindset for the niggas/Looked bad, she was right/Half on the line, blocking progress”. Maxo backs Siifu up with an incredibly vulnerable moment of reflection, “I should’ve been there when you needed me, I still think about it/But now we grown, hand wipe away the hours on the clock/I stand alone, see the spite, separate that from myself/At times I’ve grown, ‘least I claimed I did”. These back and forths that are scattered throughout the EP do not miss. The rappers deliver memorable verses that both blend together cohesively and still stand on their own.
The EP’s closer, “Loose Change”, sees hip-hop royalty Earl Sweatshirt proving that he is still one of the best emcees alive. Within the span of a single verse, Earl details the depth of his personal struggles, “I told you ’bout the reaching, you found out and screamed, that sound to me like a loss/I had a bad bout with grief and I tossed a match on it/Kerosene, burned the ring down to ashes/And memories, feather feet behind/And ahead of the beat, throwing ’em off”. The word choice and imagery in this verse is striking. There is no question that Earl is a word smith and nothing exemplifies that more than this closing track.
All in all, This Thing Of Ours is a dope project that makes for a laid back listening experience. Although much of the lyricism is quite raw and topically dense, Alchemist’s low key production keeps the sonic tone of the album rather light. With only four tracks featuring verses, the EP is a little on the short side. However, the artists involved make use of that short time and deliver what is ultimately a very enjoyable first listen. Check out This Thing Of Ours in the Spotify link below: