The second part of this record is no disappointment.
Having recently revealed that he is producing the new Earl Sweatshirt record, The Alchemist’s place amongst other hip-hop producers has never looked stronger. Having spent the last few years proving himself time and time again on each of his projects, from the Grammy nominated collaboration with the great Freddie Gibbs on Alfredo last year to my personal favourite of his projects so far, Haram, made in collaboration with experimental hip-hop duo Armand Hammer (consisting of Billy Woods and Elucid), he simply continues to rise in the eyes of music critics and fans alike, so his two EP releases this year have been readily welcomed by both.
Whilst the first part saw The Alchemist lean more towards features from rappers whom he was already plenty familiar with (Earl Sweatshirt appears twice, the pair having made a rumoured hidden record uploaded to YouTube and still undiscovered, and Boldy James also appears shortly after the release of his collaboration album with The Alchemist titled Bo Jackson), This Thing of Ours 2 sees a shift towards the unknown, featuring similar artists but nonetheless artists who haven’t worked with The Alchemist before. With MIKE, Mavi and Vince Staples making appearances, the anticipation for the EP grew very quickly after the recent announcement of the record.
And so, it’s a pleasure to say that it’s no disappointment. ‘Miracle Baby’, the single used to tease the EP’s release, boasts an absolutely incredible verse from Mavi, who explains that since the release of his debut album Let The Sun Talk (with its own cult following, fully deserved) he has had ‘sins to beat and grins to seek’, falling headfirst into his usually complex lyrics to speak about exhaustion (‘My physical form recalled every lift of finger, hiss and creak’) and his shifts in personal philosophy (Quick scan look like I’m scamming on the odds, but really I accepted the randomness of God) on what is absolutely the highlight of the project as a whole.
MIKE’s feature on the unusually sparse Alchemist beat for ‘Lossless’ is also typical of a rapper as unique and talented as MIKE is, using an intense flow to open which gradually slows down to focus more on each word individually and sees him lean into his accent as usual to bring out some great lines that most rappers would be unable to work in. Vince Staples’ appearance on the final track sees him also slow down and deliver his lines in a much more mellow manner than usual, speaking about his past and his want for ‘real love, something to set my heart free’ in a short but very personal verse that fits beautifully over the vinyl crackles, piano riffs and 70s funk inspired bassline that the beat has.
The beats are more simplistic and relaxed than The Alchemist tends to run with, but they work by placing the focus on the very strong verses that cover most of the tracks here and due to their brevity. The EP has the help of featuring one of the most impressive verses of recent memory on its first track, which makes the 11 minute runtime surprisingly impactful and also means that both parts of This Thing of Ours listened to together makes for a wonderful experience.
This Thing of Ours 2 was distributed by The Alchemist’s company, ALC. Listen to the lead single, ‘Miracle Baby’ (ft. Mavi) on YouTube below: