ALCHEMIST & AGALLAH – PAST AND PRESENT Mixtape Review

By SUNEZ

Brown nigga chase figga music get bigga.  The bigga music gets, dem exec wigga covets.  Hustle don’t lose so I don’t cry for that.  You lose the history, a little bit of culture.  So we gotta talk about culture when a nigga’s only forum he can’t progress in, develop in and be great—shit! Clay Davis operas, these is ol’ Sunez talks from ’94.  Some of that history from then goes back to Agallah surviving the commercial corn “Ghetto Girl” and revealing his strong beat making skills on PMD’s 1996 LP, Business Is Business, putting him back on focus to erupt on the era this mixtape begins.  At the turn of 1999, the music is dying cause the rivers of real were being damned like NYCs Jigga Diddy radio levee and diluted versions from skilled white hopes to down south dopes taking the longest 15 minute scopes.

And so where are the rebels that just rebel?  It was the decade Alchemist introduces his developing transition—a producer talent who would be able to transition the purest of 90’s sounds with the more digital big 808 funk hardcore that steeped in the streets.  A superb sampler with exceptional crates, teaming with Agallah, one of the struggle tales in Hip Hop’s deeper history.  It’s there when AG Da Coroner defines much of the theme on “Ain’t Easy Being Me” barring, “They said the Ricans couldn’t do it/take a piece of my life and nod your head to it.”  That’s part of the Brownsville, Brooklyn Boricua Fillipino’s triumph reads like.   Where the years you couldn’t find Agallah on wax, the lyrics’ visions are the possibilities and the missing portion is rebellion.  Before it was just coon ignant it was rugged rebellious.  And here Agallah rhymes with a fury he always had and never has gotten all the chances to display.  So now, fuck the understudies and the weak carbon copies and study the hardcore audio corpus.

Past and Present is an archive shooting forward and as it should is honored with legendary Hip Hop Writer Bonz Malone introducing the relevance.  Agallah shines in violent introspection on his hustle throughout.  On “Epic Calligraphy,” Ag produces his own spaghetti western whistle’d bed while on “Still A Villian,” he and one of the greatest MCs of the 2000’s, Thirstin Howl the 3rd, tell some of their Brownsville origin story (“Saratoga soldiers that clap that hammer/Operation Future/School of Allah/Coalition Job/Rest in Peace Akbar…”).  And the history of this tape is what counts.  Brownsville, Brooklyn is the center of the MCing universe and no place on Earth can outmatch this dynamic little acreage of hell —at best only match up with (i.e. Queensbridge).   This root keeps Agallah verses extreme with others, as with Detroit’s Guilty Simpson (“Never Hold Back”), charging with his gruff vocals and punctuated chop delivery with unapologetic thuggery blessed with the street science (“Sun, Moon and Star/ when I pray to Allah/ I’ma light a cigar, come build with God/come sit at the bar/my hustle is hard/the struggle is dark/I swim with the sharks/Ballys and Clarks/Wallys and Starks/Haile Selass/niggas is lost…”)  With Ag, you’re not going to get 120 Lessons hyper-quoted or plus lessons on how to be a righteous man spelled out degree by degree.  His bars are on deeds that leave you behind them but they also throw a rebellion of authenticity that is filled with what Hip Hop lacks.  Things like actual veteran props (not ol’ nigga that been wack and still here selling) and stylist techniques that put the Black/Brown germs out there again to heal this sick music.

The Red V Mixtape’sIdentity Theft” is thrown here as one of the modern cuts with Al’s unique highlights of details.  Here it’s a stuttered piano loop and cymbal crashes and Agallah power enunciates his bars with disgust for the weak rappers today.  “On the Ave,” and “Ride Out” from the Don Bishop ’06 days revisits Al’s funk bassline obsessions, chopped breaks and organ stabs.   These are important Ag contributions to furthered the good of Harlem’s wavy sound that mutates badly today.  The peak of the entire mixtape is the meeting of stylists as Agallah verses alongside Roc Marciano.  Agallah, a great producer, lets a soul falsetto flutter behind Roc’s verse opening and the quality smack snare in a perfectly under-produced gem, “Blaze of Glory.”  Agallah, with a graveled voice and chiseled punchlines isn’t supposed to blend so well with other MCs but counters nicely everytime.  He is comfortable on any track and fearlessly adapts to them.  He verses choppy but his technique is the lack of pauses between bars so the flow is rarely compromised as he is consistently on break.

Throughout, the Past and Present mixtape is a rewind primer to Agallah’s The Red V original mixtape ruggedness while it’s also an overview on Alchemist’s work that has reached its prime this decade.  The streets make music with ideas and yells of rebellion and hells that deserve voice.  This Hip Hop is its only forum.  So let a brother rebel because he rebel.  Start with Agallah’s clips and Alchemist’s soundbites of past hell to their present triumphs….

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