Alchemist Names His Top 5 Producers

Alchemist has had a busy 2023. The acclaimed producer (and MC/DJ) has released albums alongside Larry June, Earl Sweatshirt, and MIKE and Wiki—along with fresh solo material.

Amid the prolific year, Al spoke to Genius‘ Andres Tardio to list his Top 5 Hip-Hop producers—including one of his mentors. Along the way, Alan The Chemist shared some insights into his own career development.

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He begins with DJ Premier. “I hate when they use that word ‘GOAT’ all the time, ’cause it just got pfft; it has no strength anymore—no punch. But if you were to rewind back to when it really meant the acronym ‘The Greatest Of All Time,’ I’ma have to give it to DJ Premier.” He then explains, “He got to heights that I think no one will ever get to; he created a whole sound. He’s my illegitimate father.” Al admits that he was once an imitator. “There were years I couldn’t even make a beat—in my early days—without sounding like him. It took a long time to find my identity. [Back then], I didn’t know him yet. Now I can say that’s my brother.” Al and Preemo have worked on some of the same albums by Cormega, Royce 5’9, and Dilated Peoples, among others.

For #2, he goes to a fellow California product. “Dr. Dre. As kids, just being smashed over the head by all the s__t that he was doing—his savviness and his ability to mix samples. Like, I think he put Rap to a sonic level that I don’t think ever was matched either. Dr. Dre is like the pinnacle of sound.” Al has worked on albums by Eminem, Anderson .Paak, and Raekwon where his work is featured alongside Dre’s.

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He then moves to one of his mentors. “DJ Muggs, pshh. Nasty. Mean. Dirty. Ten thumbs, throwin’ a bunch of s__t together, and just making a beautiful mess. I was lucky, as a kid, to be around Muggs, when he was doing [Cypress Hill’s Black Sunday album], and all those other singles he was producing for Ice Cube [and others]. I could never even tell you how much I learned from just bein’ around Muggs.” Al has been a longtime Soul Assassins affiliate, while also contributing beats to Cypress albums.

For #4, Al’ goes East. “Large Professor, I could say, personified all the elements of Rap.” Like Al, Extra P is a triple-threat producer, DJ, and MC. “He could cut. He could make an incredible beat. And he could rhyme perfectly. That was like somebody that I always looked up to—to be able to have every muscle sharp.” Al says his career began as a DJ, and evolved to rapping, then production. “Large is just perfect.” Alchemist and Large Pro shared album real estate for Craig G and others.

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He finishes the Top 5 with a third consecutive Queens, New Yorker. “Q-Tip…Tip is the master. Like, really, when you boil it down, and you listen to the beats he made for A Tribe Called Quest, I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves.”

#BonusBeat: The Ambrosia For Heads playlist contains plenty of new music by Alchemist: