[Editor's Note: There was a misprint in the August 2009 issue of XXL. The Alchemist's album received an L rating for its beats and an XL for its lyrics. The correct rating is an XL for the beats and L for lyrics.]

Chemical warfare
(E1 Music)

Following the same format as 2004’s 1st Infantry, Alchemist recruits a capable lineup of rappers for his new disc, Chemical Warfare. With the usual suspects, like Prodigy and Jadakiss, still in tow, this go-round, the Beverly Hills–bred producer offers several unexpected collaborations, and surprise attacks as well.
It isn’t every day that you hear Three 6 Mafia and Juvenile over an Alc beat, but on “That’ll Work,” the producer’s bouncy take on crunk wins. Juve steals the show with a fast-paced flow, while Juicy J chooses his usual stop-and-go rhyme pattern on the standout track. Another remarkable pairing comes from Maxwell and Twista, who, respectively, provide a soulful hook and awe-inspiring verses on the slow-paced hip-hop love fest “Smile.” Hardcore fans need not worry, though, as Eminem links with Al and gets down and dirty on the album’s title track, offering to “eat the fuckin’ Octomom’s pussy lips with some okra/While I watch Whoopi Goldberg scissoring Oprah.”

Not all the artists have as much chemistry, however. The bass-farting “On Sight,” which links Lady of Rage and Tha Dogg Pound, only seems to fulfill the West Coast quota, and Prodigy’s sex talk over Al’s pulsating drums on “Keep the Heels On” just sounds creepy. Still, in all, Chemical Warfare proves that Alchemist keeps an arsenal of WMDs just in case shit jumps off. –Jesse Gissen