Lord Steppington is the album by Alchemist and Evidence (a.k.a. the Step Brothers) that many feel is long overdue. Not only is it finally coming; it’s coming at what feels like an appropriate time. Hip-hop became re-obsessed with minimalism in 2013, which is a style that’s one of Alchemist’s many fortes. Lord Steppington wasn’t made amidst fan demand or circumstance. The idea came together naturally, the same way Evidence and Alchemist have sounded together in the decades’ worth of collaborations. “We wouldn’t do it for any other reason," Evidence says about the project. "I think the reason we’re doing it is just...part of this embedded lifestyle that happens everyday: Wake up, coffee, bike path, studio, make beats, record raps, take picture of sunset on Instagram. This shit is like a 20-year Groundhog Day."

An Alchemist beat is definitive, but the producer has a variety of styles. Lord Steppington has him touching on classic sampling (“More Wins”), slight trips in psychedelia (the guitar-backed “Byron G,” Evidence's lone production credit on the album), and straight-up raucousness ("Step Masters"). It’s crazy, but it never falls into chaos thanks in part to Evidence’s vocal marksmanship.

The long-awaited collaboration is also a family affair. Frequent collaborators and outside-the-studio friends Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, Blu, Styles P, and others assist on Step Brothers. XXL spoke with Alchemist and Evidence about their relationship as artists, their inspirations, and the duo’s favorite moments on the album, track-by-track. Check out what the hilarious duo had to say. Brian Josephs

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"More Wins"

Alchemist: They put this little thing in front of the mic. It’s called a popper stopper, and it smells like hot shit because it’s like a combination of every rapper’s shitty breath. If you smell that, that’s the vibe we wanted you to get from the album when you hear the beat. Stink breath, popper stopper funk.

If you have gold teeth, you don’t have to talk about how bad their fucking breath stinks. It’s like keeping a penny in your mouth all day... They probably feel dope though. It gives you a different aura if you got gold teeth on. You’d feel different, I imagine.


“Dr. Kimble”

Alchemist: You know the scene in The Fugitive (the 1993 Harrison Ford thriller) when he’s running and he’s chasing the dude and he gets to that hole and the guy is like, "I didn’t kill your wife! I don’t care!" That’s what inspired that song: That line.

It’s illegal to be naked. Like you can’t walk down the street naked, and that’s due to what happened when Adam and Eve ate the apple. But we’re gonna turn up. I was physically and mentally turnt before I made that beat.

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“Byron G” ft. The Whooliganz & Domo Genesis

Alchemist: Groundbreaking, man, it was a long time coming. My man Scott [Caan, who went by Mad Skillz when he was part of The Whooliganz] is a wizard. He’s a rap genius. It’s been that way since we were kids. He just came over and was like, "I gotta rap. I'ma fuck all of y’all up." Shit was so hard I couldn’t even rap on the song. Talking about regal swimming pools and all types of fly shit. Scott is incredible, and The Whooliganz are growing. Domo Genesis put in an amazing performance on that song, too. Have 20 year olds and 30 year olds sounded so natural together on a track? Let’s keep it real.

We started working on the album, and [Caan] started coming to the studio just hanging. That’s been my brother regardless of this rap shit. He told me he was writing some raps and shit, and he called me one day and played me something. He came over and played it off his phone when he recorded it and I was like, “That’s you?” He was in the pocket and he was killing it. Now he’s arrived again and he’s better than he ever was. It’s crazy.

We did finish The Whooliganz album; Tommy Boy’s been holding it. Pretty soon we’re going to fly out to New York, and we’re going to get our album. We’re going to go to Tommy Silverman and Monica Lynch’s office. I hope it’s the same place that it was in 1993. I’m not sure where it is otherwise, but I’m going to go to that office.

Evidence: [On the Kanye West sample] I’m early on that shit because now Kanye West’s rants and YouTube interviews are all popular and shit. You gotta give me credit because this album has been done for over a year, so that means I was kind of early on his...vocally speaking and not just rapping.

He was just at the MTV Europe Awards making a funny speech and I just liked it. It was perfect for the mood I was in, and we just put it at the top and at the end. It’s important to always have one layer of Kanye West on every album, even subliminally.

"Byron G"...actually [West said] Myra G, but I didn’t understand that right away. I couldn’t figure out what he was saying. It’s actually Myra. "Byron G" just sounds better, so we rolled with it. He’s that guy at the label that you fuck with. Myra G sounds like she’s asking for a single, the video wasn’t good enough. Myra sounds like she has a plan for you to actually go record your album and when it’s done, they’re going to send you back to make a new single.


“Legendary Mesh”

Alchemist: "Tip is very smooth and Phife is very hype." Would you agree? It’s in the contrast of the two: Tip is very smooth, PHIFE IS VERY HYPE. It’s like the dynamic of the group. You know, like how the perfect screw fits in with the bolt. That was Phife and Q-Tip. They were like the perfect screw.

[Questlove] sent the chorus via Snapchat. It was like a one-time thing; you gotta just grab it when it came. It was a very covert operation. He's got mad [afro picks], and he always leaves them. It’s like a thing. He has so many of them it’s crazy. I have a bunch in the studio.

[On comparing themselves to A Tribe Called Quest in the song] You got to be lofty. If you want to own Louis Vuitton, you can’t just go buy a bag. You got to shoot for the next quasar and then you land on a cloud on top of everything, looking down.

I always thought that because [Ali Shaheed Muhammad] was the DJ that he made all the beats, but then when I saw the documentary and talked to people, I found out that Tip was the man behind a lot of the productions. Not to take anything from Shaheed. Don’t forget he brought that three-bar shit into the game when Mobb Deep’s “Drink Away the Pain” beat turned over. He’s a master. You want to liken yourself to masters. You don’t want to liken yourself to lames, right? Who’s a legendary journalist? Everywhere you go, you gotta be like, "I am Nardwuar."


“No Hesitation” ft. Styles P

Evidence: That shit is hard as fuck. I think this is the blackest album done by two white people.

Styles is one of those guys beyond rap is one of the most solid dudes. That day that he knocked that out, he came through after a show. I don’t even think he went back to his hotel. He stayed for 24 hours, and we knocked out like four joints. He knocked that out, he knocked a couple of other things out, and that’s one of the dudes that if he ever needs anything, I’m there. There’s certain people in this industry you make connections with beyond a beat on a CD or just rapping, and he’s one of those guys. If he ever needs anything from me, I’m there.

He got one of the most timeless cadences in rap—all of The LOX actually. But his beat and the way he knocks that beat out, it’s like you can definitely identify that’s him before the second word comes in. He has like a crazy presence. I think people forget sometimes that he was half of "We Gonna Make It." He had half of the raps on that song. SP is a legend man, so working with him is great.


“Swimteam Rastas”

Evidence: Alchemist tracks: When you get one you’re excited, right? What if you went to his studio and he’s like, "Listen, I got three beats for you for the price of one." You’re gonna be like, "Oh my God. It’s on and cracking." It’s like Black Friday on a fucking Wednesday in January. So of course you’re going to be excited.

The other thing is the transitions and the way they morph—morph is a key word—the way they morph into each other, the same way Snoop Dogg morphed into the dog, that’s what those beats do. They morph into each other, like dog to human, human to dog.

Alchemist: Did you ever see Double Dare? Remember at the end there was like the retarded course and you had to run through the fucking ooze and up through the nose and get all this crazy shit? That’s how I look at that song. It’s like collision course you got to run through but in the end, it’s like triumph. You win in the end. The first beat is kinda tense, the next one is smooth, and in the end we found the flag in the big fucking nose and we won on Double Dare. We got the streak at Toys R’ Us, the five-minute run through and take anything you want.

Evidence: The second beat of that three-part beat is my favorite beat on the album. DJ Premier started that shit. He’s the godfather of doing three beats in one song. So I wouldn’t even have thought of doing that shit if he wasn’t doing it first on the Gang Starr albums.


“Mums in the Garage” ft. Action Bronson

Evidence: Action bodied real hard. Hard to rap after that one. I think I mustered up something good on it. The song goes downhill. It starts great, I like the middle, and then Al kinda sucks.

Alchemist: Yeah, I took a shit on the end. In true fashion, as a rapper.

Evidence: Al definitely did not pick that song up. It gets worse and worse as it goes. Al got moments on the album where he kills everybody, and he got ones where he’s just doing him—like sucking. That one was just like a sucky moment for him. Al’s sucky moments are still bodying everybody.

Al is the best rapping producer out. He’s better than Kanye West. This is like “Bound 2” for Al, like “Bound 3.” [After being informed of the Seth Rogen and James Franco parody] Then this is like "Bound 4." Bam.


“See the Rich Man Play” ft.  Roc Marciano

Alchemist: That’s my second favorite song and that one is sick. Wait 'til you see the video for that.

Evidence: That’s like if you ever go to those casinos in downtown Vegas. The fucked up casinos that are off the Strip. There’s always like a couple of broke motherfuckers near the slot machines. You can tell they’re washed up. Just smelling bitches walking by... That was that.

Roc Marci was tight too. He was like, “Man, how you gonna put me on a concept song?” He’s like, “That’s that bullshit. I wanna spaz out like an Action Bronson spaz out and I gotta write a concept record, man." Roc Marci is one of the best rappers, period, in rap right now. And Brownsville Ka as well. They’re bringing some shit to the game. I like what I like. That’s all I can speak for.

Alchemist: He’s like on another level with the way he raps. With his approach and his perspective. If you listen to his adlibs, it’s like he’s so disgusted with the fly shit that he’s saying, he just can’t believe it.


“Banging Sound” Feat. Fashawn

Evidence: "Guns bigger than Theophilus London’s lips.” How do you feel about that line? That’s the creativity of Fashawn.

Alchemist: That’s like a weird beat. It’s supposed to kind of annoy you. It’s supposed to be like, what the fuck. You’re supposed to be left hanging a little with that beat and just hear a banging sound...We turn up on that. [The sample] Is from Gary Gnu and the Great Space Coaster.

“Step Masters”

Evidence: [On the “Talk slick, I’ll connect both of your lips with staples” line following the Theophilus London lips reference on “Banging Sound”] It’s iller because I’m connecting your lip with staples if you talk slick. That’s some do-not-talk-slick-type lyric.

[The video] was a study in contrast. We picked a song that was supposed to be the hypest song, and it’s supposed to be like M.O.P is performing. You put a video to it where you don’t even rap to the lyrics. That video is supposed to be like a sold out show and everybody going crazy, so we didn’t do that.

Jason [Goldwatch, the director] hung out with us for a day, and he was like, "Jesus, you guys really do Dance Revolution against each other?" These are things we do with each other every day. When we’re bored, we’ll just do, like, a freezing hand contest and mouthwash contest. That’s just a regular day.


“Tomorrow” Feat. Raaka & Blu

Evidence: Blu is one of our great contemporaries and Raaka is my Dilated Brother, so we had them come rip shit. Al made the beat on the spot in like six minutes, and the song was really done fast. That’s the beauty of this album. Chorus? Nah, I don’t feel like doing a chorus. Five rappers on one track? Yeah, that’s cool, let’s do it. I been on Capitol, I’ve been on places where you have to have expectations to have records with fucking Kanye West and shit. Those are pressure records. This is not that. This is not on a label; it's actual friends who hang out. A day in the life captured through multiple songs in an album. That’s basically how it works.

Linking Up with the Alchemist:

Draw Something” Feat. Oh No

Evidence: With Al and Oh No being creatively Gangrene, it’s highly notable to me. That shit is crazy. Oh No is sick on the beat, but he didn’t make the beat. He’s just showing how sick he is on the rhymes this time. He’s super versatile, and he’s one of the most prolific people we know. He can turn things around with quality at an amazing speed. Super inspiring to be around Oh No.

It’s just family. The only reunion so to speak is Scott Caan, because Whooliganz hasn’t been heard in forever and Scott is a huge actor from the Ocean’s movies to Hawaii Five-0 to everything else he’s doing. He’s the son of fucking James Caan, who’s Sonny from The Godfather. He had to go to acting because that’s just what he’s supposed to do, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been killing it in the meantime. That’s the only reunion. Dilated [Peoples], we got a new album coming out and everything has been happening.

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“Buzzing Away”

Alchemist: The most illest shit you could probably do is a weed song, so I feel like we wanted to stretch the boundaries and do something that’s never been done. Like who’s ever made a song about weed? Nobody! So we wanted to be the first to say this is that weed shit right here. The beat is like, “buzzing,” like you’re buzzing away. This is that weed shit right here. The first weed song ever.

[The conversation at the beginning of the song] That was a real conversation. We didn’t even do that on the microphone. We just said it so loud that it automatically just flew into ProTools. Have you ever heard of a rapper getting their voice into ProTools without a microphone before? We did that.”

“Just Step”

Alchemist: It was a song we leaked about two years ago. It’s like the beginning in reverse. Do you love Radiohead? Can you name me three members of the band Radiohead? [BJ: Ed O’Brien, Johnny Greenwood, Thom Yorke...]

Evidence: Damn, son, you’re the only person who’s ever fucked this question up for me. So you would be somebody if you were a Step Brothers fan who would know what “Just Step” was. If you’re a fan of Radiohead, it’s okay to just know who [frontman] Thom Yorke is. You don’t have to know what the rest of them is, but you do, so you would be the equivalent of a real Step Brothers fan who would know what “Just Step” is. But if you don’t know what “Just Step” is, it’s okay because you just know who Thom Yorke is and what the fuck is wrong with that?

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