By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Alchemist still splits time between L.A. and Manhattan, but for the last three years his chief residence has been this Santa Monica studio. The period has coincided with his most creatively fertile stretch, highlighted by full-length collaborations with Prodigy of Mobb Deep, Curren$y and Gangrene.
Nearly 20 years after getting his first record deal, the latter project might be his most successful endeavor. A recent video for "Vodka & Ayahuasca" received 50,000 YouTube plays in its first 24 hours. Not only did Gangrene pack their recent Amoeba in-store but they've also sold out large clubs in Russia and Switzerland.
"I'd always wanted to have my own version of [reggae legends] Sly and Robbie's studio in Jamaica, where people would show up every morning to make music," Alchemist says. "I'm not going to turn down a big check to place a beat on an album. But these days, if I make a hot beat, I'm going to give it to whomever's here and ready to go."
Over the next hour, a veritable lazy Susan of drugs spins, and Alchemist, Fashawn, Oh No and I trip out while watching a documentary on ayahuasca, the Amazonian tribal sacrament so hallucinogenic it rivals peyote and pure DMT. Gangrene bounce ideas off each other with seamless odd-couple chemistry: Oh No, linebacker-sized and laconic; Alchemist, built like a spliff and speaking rapidly. Both share a quick-witted sarcasm and restless desire to take everything higher — even if they haven't tried ayahuasca yet.
"We work constantly and take breaks smoking and bugging on all sorts of documentaries," Alchemist says. "The drugs of choice in the rap game are kind of corny these days. Lean and pills just slow you down and make you dumber. I'd much rather bring attention to ayahuasca."
The following day, I smoke with an Angeleno friend, a rapper himself, who is also no slouch in herbal understanding. When I pack the Pineapple Goat into the pipe, he takes one glance at it and asks me where I got such good weed.