Albert Johnson, otherwise known as Prodigy, and Alan Maman, aka Alchemist, first met way back in the 90s; according to Prodigy’s memoir ‘My Infamous Life,’ he knew Alchemist was extremely talented in the craft of making beats after hearing a mere 10 seconds of his work. The two of them have had a working relationship ever since. This relationship took a backseat, of course, to Prodigy main work as Mobb Deep alongside Havoc. It wasn’t until much later when Prodigy tried his hand at a solo career that people really took notice to how well Prodigy and Alchemist styles blended together. Alchemist has handled the majority of production for pretty much all of Prodigy’s solo records, though Alchemist only produced one of those records in its entirety. For Alchemist’s second round as sole producer, he gets billing alongside Prodigy on the cover. There’s no fancy group name or new concept. ‘Albert Einstein’ is just more tunes from the product of a twenty-plus year friendship.
So this isn’t their first joint effort, and nothing about their dynamic has really changed. ‘Albert Einstein’ is pretty much working with the same formula of Prodigy’s ‘HNIC’ albums, ‘Return of The Mac,’ and ‘The Bumpy Johnson Album.’ Prodigy’s laid-back flow and Alchemist’s jazzy-street hybrid style of production just works. It always has. Though they’re not re-inventing themselves by any means, you can’t blame them for sticking to their guns. Speaking of, I don’t think there’s one song on this album that doesn’t mention firearms. Honestly, if it were not for Alchemist’s uncanny ability of making tracks I want to hear over and over, the score for this album wouldn’t be very favorable. Not to discredit Prodigy, who many consider the stronger lyricist of Mobb Deep. He is very consistent and again, there’s something about these two guys that just fits. Referring to Prodigy’s memoir again, I got the impression that P was looking to turn over a new leaf post-prison…nope. As he mentioned on the song “Bear Meat,” “Got my style preserved like cans on the shelf.”
Through most of ‘Albert Einstein,’ you’ll hear a braggadocio P rhyming street narratives in which he always comes out victorious. Other times, you’ll hear him bragging on his rapping ability. Alchemist really carries the load in certain spots throughout these 16 tracks; the instrumentals are well worth your time. Alchemist is one of the most consistent hip-hop producers in the industry and there are no missteps on ‘Albert Einstein’ where beats are concerned. Aside from Alchemist’s assistance, Prodigy is backed up by a strong list of featured emcees. There’s no big emphasis on star power, just talent. From Raekwon, Domo Genesis of Odd Future fame, and Action Bronson to Roc Marciano and the other half of Mobb Deep, Havoc, there’s no dead weight on the few tracks with additional rappers.
All in all, only a pair of musicians that have such a long and successful working history can come up with well-crafted, focused piece of work like this. ‘Albert Einstein’ doesn’t offer a great deal of variety (or any at all really as far as subject matter), but when I think about what else I would’ve wanted to hear from these two, I draw a blank. This is just what they do. Fortunately, they do it well enough to keep me interested.