Behind The Beats: Alchemist
Alchemist pulled it off once again. Al, who rose to fame with his production for the likes of Mobb Deep, Lloyd Banks and Lil Wayne, has been prospering lately as Eminem’s DJ. Em doesn’t perform too much, so when a star of his caliber takes the stage, every show is high-profile. This month, Al was in the DJ booth during Em’s Home and Home shows with Jay-Z in Detroit and in New York.
“With the band now, it eases a little bit of the pressure,” Al said. “My friends say, ‘You’re pressing play and stop.’ I’ll tell them, ‘It’s pressing play and stop; it’s not the technical part of it. If you mess it up, it’s a stop and go, but you better do it right on time.’ It’s like the pyro. The pyro guy can’t be a second off. Somebody can get blown up. Em being the perfectionist he is, it was clear: ‘All right, Al, when you’re on the stage with Em, there’s no room for error.’ I respected that. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s gonna make me step my game up.’ I’m watching his shows, before I was his DJ, looking at how his vocals were perfect. In sync, perfect. I felt like this is important. I took it real serious.”
Al said he, Eminem manager Paul Rosenberg and D12′s Mr. Porter all give Em input on the show.
“At first I was nervous. Like, ‘This is one of the greatest of all time. It’s nothing I can really tell him,’ ” Al thought back. “But as you vibe together, you get ideas. I would test the waters a little bit. He would listen, not always take your idea, but be open-minded. As we started rehearsing, I started implementing some of the stuff I’m known for.”
Paul and Em told Al to put some of his own flavor into the live sets. Fans got to hear some of that flavor during the Home and Home series.
“It was ‘The Way I Am,’ ” Alchemist explained. “It was an old version where they had Edie Brickell in it: ‘What I am is what I am.’ So … I was like, ‘We should bring it back when we play it live.’ It was a reason they didn’t use it on the original song. Maybe clearance or something. Stuff like that. Or at the end of ‘Not Afraid,’ when the band is breaking it down, I made them get the a cappella and I put in the ‘Holla if you … ‘ Start cutting that up. I think about [DJ] Premier a lot. I think about how to be subtle as a DJ. The band’s up here, Em is running the show. I look at it as accents. I was around [DJ] Muggs for so many years. I got to see so many great people do it. Definitely try to think of what I saw through the years, be subtle and play my part. Add some flavor.”
Next Wave of Flav
On Eminem and Slaughterhouse: “I didn’t make the Recovery album. Shout-out to DJ Khalil, the big homie. He did, like, four joints on the album. Em’s got him on the album. Mr. Porter made the album. Havoc made the album. It adds to me wanting to go even harder. I think what it was, that I’m so accustomed to making stuff for Mobb Deep or Dilated [Peoples] or the people in my immediate circle. Being around Em more, I’m starting to get it. People vibe, and we make the best music. Now that I’m around him more, there’s talks of the Slaughterhouse project. I think that might be one of the first moments I might be able to pick up some dust.”
On Gangrene: “I got this project Gang Green with Oh No, a real good friend from the West Coast, a collaboration project we did together. We did the rhymes and beats together. It’s like I’m almost going backwards. I’ve had my years when I tried to make big stuff after I had a little success. Now I’m gong back to the raw beats, making something every country can feel. Raekwon’s on the joint. Guilty Simpson, Evidence, Fat Sean, a bunch of people I have relationships with.”
On Prodigy: “P comes home in February. It’s gonna be a very busy time. It’s amazing. He feels like he’s home already. He’s in the best health he’s been in. He’s really excited. I’ve been sending him beats. Havoc is sending him beats. I e-mail them to his wife, and she puts it on some type of cassette. It’s like he’s in the studio, he’s just not recording.”
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