What do you do when producing for Nas, Jadakiss, Mobb Deep and Snoop Dogg isn't enough? Well, if you're the Alchemist, you return to the lab and start building your own career.
The result is 1st Infantry, an album that the Los Angeles-based producer said he's been planning for years.
"Coming from L.A., I always looked to Dr. Dre and the way he focused on The Chronic as the way I wanted to do my album," the Alchemist said. "I didn't want to play too much of a vocal role, but rather serve as the orchestrator."
For the album, which was released recently on his ALC Records imprint, the Alchemist enlisted a host of those aforementioned famous friends — including Game, M.O.P. and Lloyd Banks — to guest on the set. While many artists might have had problems putting together such a lineup, the Alchemist says the process was "pretty organic."
"There was no wish list of artists or red tape in getting the people I wanted to be involved," he said. "Everyone was within reach due to my relationships. Plus, I had a whole lot of favors that I could call in."
On his debut single, "Hold You Down," the Alchemist teams with Prodigy of Mobb Deep, Nina Sky and newcomer Illa Ghee.
"It's about loyalty," the Alchemist said of the hypnotic single. "It has a sample [of Al Kooper's 'Love Theme From "The Landlord" '] that was used before, so I wanted to take it and put my own twist on it, [so] I got with Nina Sky to give the song a vocal twist."
1st Infantry isn't the producer's first turn as an artist. When he was 16, the Alchemist signed with Tommy Boy Records as a member of the Hooligans. That experience led him to start ALC. "I didn't want to be locked down by any one label again, or have people on my back." he said.
The producer has had his hands full over the last few months — he's worked with Mobb Deep, Nelly, Styles P., Snoop Dogg and Tony Yayo on recent or forthcoming projects — but said that the release of 1st Infantry is a new beginning.