The pairing of Prodigy and Alchemist is far from an unfamiliar one. On top of being a prominent supplier of beats for Mobb Deep, Alchemist has aided Prodigy on all of his solo albums. Albert Einstein marks the second full-length collaboration between the two, following up 2007’s Return of the Mac. The chemistry between the rapper and producer is unquestionable. Prodigy is completely comfortable on the collaborative efforts and Alchemist knows how to craft a beat to Prodigy’s liking. While it’s a relationship that has been going steadily since the ‘90s, it’s far from stale. Both artists have evolved their styles over the years, especially Alchemist, and as a result Albert Einstein is fresh rather than sounding stuck in another era.
In collaborations between a single rapper and producer, generally the rapper garners the most attention with the producer being more of an afterthought to the average person. While most people will still likely associate Albert Einstein with Prodigy more than Alchemist, it certainly doesn’t feel that way from a listener’s perspective. Looking at other, recent collaborations the Alchemist has had with rappers, namely Covert Coup with Curren$y and Rare Chandeliers with Action Bronson, Alchemist’s work seems to take the limelight. It feels as if the Alchemist is crafting his own story through the beats and inviting a rapper to accompany his creations.
Contrastingly, Prodigy’s performance is largely unadorned. The production is fitting to his rough, old-school style, but Prodigy can’t seem to find a way to stand out. Prodigy is definitely not bad on Albert Einstein, but in a time where there is a constant stream of music at the world’s fingertips, it takes something impressive to make your material stand out among the wide pool of content. Certain songs work really well for Prodigy’s borderline monotonous flow, but too many other times he simply comes off as unenergetic.
Prodigy doesn’t take too many experimental stabs with his verses or concepts on Albert Einstein, but it’s not completely void of creativity. “Confessions” is a hauntingly descriptive story of Prodigy’s steadfast plot in achieving revenge on an enemy. Prodigy’s story-telling abilities are put on display, as is his ability to visualize a certain perspective and react to unexpected situations. A handful of guests provide meritable features. Domo Genesis gives a simple, yet interestingly introspective verse on “Y.N.T.”. Havoc and Raekwon bring the gritty New York atmosphere to life on “R.I.P.”, and Action Bronson displays his own great chemistry with Alchemist on “The One”.
Albert Einstein has plenty of memorable beats, but the lyrics don’t match that same level of success. Prodigy provides a nice compliment to the audaciously visual production of the Alchemist, but his limited range of energy and lack of ability to make good hooks puts Albert Einstein behind some of the Alchemist’s other collaboration albums with a single rapper. That’s not to say Albert Einstein is bad, it’s definitely worth listening to for most hip-hop fans. You might not be blown away by the album, but Prodigy and Alchemist have put together a highly enjoyable album.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.