Curren$y & The Alchemist
Continuance (Jet Life Recordings/ALC Records)
Continuance is the latest in a series of well-received collaborations between Curren$y and the Alchemist; their last project was 2019’s Fetti with Freddie Gibbs. The duo’s music engages an audience in thrall to classicist tropes, from syllable-rich slanguage to sampled beats. In recent years, the Alchemist’s drums and bass lines have grown increasingly soft and unobtrusive, turning his productions into the hip-hop equivalent of cool jazz. On his best work, like his Haram project with Armand Hammer, he uncovers innovative twists on the formula, like heightening the ominous qualities of his melodies. His worst projects, like his Carry the Fire instrumental 12-inch and The Food Villain with Action Bronson, sound like hypebeast dross, mere fodder for colorway vinyl to flip online. Continuance lies somewhere in the middle: It’s not as impressive as Curren$y and Alchemist’s 2011 Covert Coup peak, but it’s pleasing to the ear. Curren$y flips through rhymes in a sharp New Orleans cadence like he’s working a gaming controller, tossing off casual observations about maintaining a successful career, weathering the pandemic, and enjoying expensive things in life. “My son is too young to know that he a prince/I’m so grateful I had him when I was rich,” he raps on “Kool & the Gang.” Meanwhile, Alchemist inserts dialogue from sundry films and other sources into his tracks. The effect is akin to smoking a blunt and happily dozing off to a Netflix movie. The guests include Boldy James, hotly tipped Detroit rapper Babyface Ray, Larry June, Styles P, Havoc, and Wiz Khalifa.