“We’re blurring the line between music and art and making it one big, funky-fresh party”, the Alchemist recently told Billboard Magazine. He’s talking about his most recent project, Russian Roulette, a thirty song compilation of “audio art” diced with an unconventional mix of featured artists. From Evidence to Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire to Action Bronson, each artist plays a defining ingredient in Alchemist’s musical elixir. That said, the production is truly where the vital organs lay and the project’s overall orchestration rightfully satisfies the missing element of today’s Hip Hop.
Russian Roulette is the Crime and Punishment of its kind, which essentially makes Alchemist a Dostoevsky in his craft. It may seem over exaggerated, but consider the man behind the project: the instrumental mastermind who has worked with Mobb Deep, Dilated Peoples, Eminem, and many more acclaimed artists. Plain and simple, when Alchemist sets out for execution, he executes. With Russian Roulette, the Alchemist takes you on a journey and introduces you to many characters along the way. The track list, which incorporates samples from old Russian show tunes and casino music, unfolds as if its entirety is a novel and every track completes another gripping chapter. From “Soundcheck” to “The Kosmos Pt. 8 (Outro)”, the audience is coaxed through a euphonious hypnosis through the pages.
Songs like “Live From the Dynamo Stadium 2” reek of modern age psychedelia, while others like “Don Seymour’s Theme (feat. Midaz)” borderline up-tempo old school Hip Hop meets brassy Jazz. “Fight Confirmation (feat. Danny Brown and Schoolboy Q.)” blows up like an explosive zenith, spitting lines like and leads into the eventual trail to the cool down, Russian ambient “Moscow Sunrise” and “Moscow Sunset” tracks. The ending “The Kosmos” Parts 1-8 play out as if an audible journey through space. While not every track features an artist, the interrupting dialogue and suspenseful instrumental songs deems Russian Roulette the eerie, gripping experience that it was intended to be.