Album Review: Durag Dynasty, 360 Waves
Over the past several years, The Alchemist's California home has become affectionately referred to as "rap camp" by one of your favorite rappers. The Beverly Hills-born producer has already solidified his reputation as one of the most prolific and mobile artists the genre has to offer, and as evidenced by the wide range of artists Alc has worked with over the past few years, his in-home studio seems to be a breeding ground for high-quality music. He's brought together artists from all corners of the rap community (see: No Idols with Domo Genesis, Rare Chandeliers with Action Bronson and Covert Coup alongside Curren$y).
When Alchemist announced the formation of West Coast supergroup Durag Dynasty, comprised of local mixtape legend Planet Asia, Killer Ben and Tristate, the information could have easily been lost by fans in the pile of highly anticipated projects that the producer has slated for 2013. An ingenius promotional campaign that featured photoshopped Durags on the likes of Pat Riley and Barack Obama remedied that by turning heads and letting fans know what this album is about. 360 Waves is an exercise in blasé gangsterism and pure rap prowess, the likes of which are rare in rap today, and if the music isn't enough, the image of the long-lost durag steez on an aging Kareem Abdul-Jabbar drives the point home nicely.
Alchemist's sound is often a difficult one to pin down; it's constantly evolving yet you know it when you hear it. There are moments on 360 Waves where he finds a sweet spot between Chemical Warfare-Alc and Russian Roulette-Alc. The result is just poppy enough, with plenty of grime and weirdness to spare. At it's highest moments, 360 Waves finds itself in a zone that in many ways feels like a 21st century Enter the Wu-Tang. The sample-driven but singular sound could easily be compared in form to that of the RZA and the wealth of voices featured on the album reach a high level of potency on more than one occasion, with the power trio as their centerpiece.
Aside from the single, "DRDC Theme", highlights include the two "Yasir Arafat" tracks, "Trailer Mix", which features 6 Phil The Agony, and the Big Twinz-assisted, "Bigger U Are The Harder They Fall", where Alan blesses the track with a verse of his own. The bars are up to par across the board, and 360 Waves provides an adequate platform for some of the most talented, under hyped rappers in the game to shine.
This album won't serve as the catalyst for a return to grimy, vinyl-crackle-laden rap music in the mainstream, but it certainly serves as a nice diversion for wishful fans. It's not a full-blown indictment of the mainstream—it's too much fun to be considered that—but the album doesn't pull any punches: "You're outta space, Lord/Whole shit looking shoddy/You're just a poser on a skateboard tryna Ollie." Like anything Alc puts his hands on, this project is definitely worth a listen, and builds anticipation for whatever might come next from this camp.