THE ALCHEMIST | Mandy (2018) dir. Panos Cosmatos
THE ALCHEMIST | Mandy (2018) dir. Panos Cosmatos
Don’t get me wrong…W.W.C.D. was dope. And it even grew on me with repeated listens. The musicianship shown by crafting a strong major label debut album without using old samples - considering Griselda is a collective that traditionally feasted off of dusty, classic soul samples - was truly impressive. I was impressed once again when Westside Gunn did the same thing on his own Shady Records debut with Who Made The Sunshine.
Nevertheless, given the prolific discography of Westside Gunn, Conway The Machine, and Benny The Butcher over the past few years, it’s hard for me to keep my expectations grounded whenever they drop a new project. When I heard that the Griselda family was finally dropping an official group album back in 2019 - a project I had been yearning for since I first heard “Beloved” by Conway, Benny and Mach-Hommy, off of Con’s now famous Reject 2 project - I went on a binge of classic Griselda tracks, trying to assemble the perfect album from my favorite joints that have been unleashed by the Buffalo brothers over the years. I never completely followed through with crafting that perfect album…it was simply too time consuming for me to narrow down my list to just a handful of songs (at some point I hope to revisit that idea, but it has only gotten more challenging as time has passed).
Now here we are in the ever frightening 2020. On many days, it feels like the world around us is falling apart, yet the arts continue to thrive - as they so often do during times of peril. Surely Griselda has thrived more than most, having the most successful year of their careers (at least in terms of growing their fanbase off of string of high quality releases). Having expanded their own label (the signings of Boldy James and Armani Caesar), expanding their industry connections to benefit even more talented rap artists that they came up with (Benny’s Black Sopranos/BSF venture), to enduring tragedy and gaining strength and wisdom from it (COVID, the shocking loss of Buffalo’s legendary DJ Shay), all while keeping their hands in numerous other business ventures outside of music (Westside Gunn’s ongoing love affair with the fashion industry even yielded arguably the collective’s strongest music project of the year, Pray For Paris)…it’s hard to imagine a more prosperous year for a group of rap artists from Buffalo that fought most of their lives to emerge from the shadow cast by their rich downstate neighbor - and Hip-Hop’s original home base - New York City.
With all of this success in mind, I feel that it is the perfect time to take inventory of my favorite songs from/featuring Westside Gunn, Conway, Benny, Armani Caesar and Boldy James (post-Griselda signing, that is) in 2020. Even with the smaller sample size, it really wasn’t easy (again, these folks have had quite an output already and it’s still only October), but I think I narrowed down my list to a strong 25 joints…plus a few bonus cuts for the deluxe edition (eh, sure it’s cheating…but who besides me is setting the rules here anyway??). 😬
***Please be aware***: this is NOT a list ranking the order of my favorite Griselda songs of the year, these are my favorite Griselda songs sorted into an order that I feel would make for a helluva strong album.
And here it is, a surprise album/playlist drop that I am calling:
“GRISELDA IN 2020: THE ALBUM a.k.a. W.W.T.R.P.D. (What Would The Rap Pundit Do)”
1. “Lemon” - Conway feat. Method Man
2. “Timeless” - Benny feat. Lil Wayne & Big Sean
3. “Ishkabibbles” - Westside Gunn feat. Black Thought
4. “$500 Ounces” - Westside Gunn feat. Freddie Gibbs & Roc Marciano
5. “Front Lines” - Conway
6. “All Praises” - Westside Gunn feat. Boldy James & Jadakiss
7. “Babies & Fools” - Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist feat. Conway
8. “George Bondo” - Westside Gunn feat. Conway & Benny
9. “Dough & Damani” - Conway
10. “Euro Step” - Westside Gunn
11. “Maria” - Boldy James & Jay Versace
12. “Spurs 3″ - Conway feat. Westside Gunn & Benny
13. “Shawn vs. Flair” - Westside Gunn
14. “Nu Wave” - Boldy James & Jay Versace
15. “Think of the Lox” - The Lox feat. Westside Gunn & Benny
16. “Buffs vs. Wires” - Westside Gunn feat. Benny & Boldy James
17. “Ginger Rothstein” - Armani Caesar
18. “War Paint″ - Benny feat. Westside Gunn & Benny
19. “Forever Droppin’ Tears” - Conway feat. Elcamino
20. “Trade It All” - Benny feat. Queen Naija
21. “Claibourne Kick” - Westside Gunn feat. Boldy James
22. “They Got Sonny” - Conway & The Alchemist feat. Cormega
23. “Scrape The Bowl” - Boldy James & The Alchemist feat. Benny
24. “327″ - Westside Gunn feat. Billie Essco, Joey Bada$$ & Tyler, The Creator
25. “Legend” - Benny feat. Hit-Boy
“One More Hit” - Westside Gunn feat. Stove God Cook$
“Michael Irvin” - Westside Gunn
“Frank Murphy” - Westside Gunn feat. Stove God Cook$, Smoke DZA, Elcamino, Estee Nack & Flee Lord
The Alchemist has shared a new album today with guest features from Action Bronson & Big Body Bes. Stream The Food Villlain now!
“God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that He left for you.”
- Paul Coelho, The Alchemist
FREDDIE GIBBS FT. CONWAY THE MACHINE - “ BABIES & FOOLS “
“[Macbeth/JC/R3] is just so relevant right now….”
me: stage The Alchemist you coward
We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.
- Paulo Coelho
Boldy James & The Alchemist - Carruth
So I just saw the blights new costume (I think it was called ‘True Blight’?) and lemme just tell you, the amount thirst I have for this stinky glowing guy is painfully high.
Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist - Babies & Fools (Feat. Conway The Machine)
When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.
Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist - Frank Lucas feat. Benny The Butcher
Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist - Babies & Fools featuring Conway The Machine
Where there’s a will, there’s a “ray”.
A southwest-facing bedroom sun-drenched this morning. Isn’t it a bit dramatic?
Got this book from a second-hand bookstore the other day. It smells vintages as it ages.