The Alchemist & Evidence: Freewheelin’ Step Brothers

The Alchemist & Evidence: Freewheelin’ Step Brothers

It was a delicious egg sandwich from a local food truck which brought Alchemist and Evidence together.  In the words of the Alchemist, “It was magic.” For them, magic happens when all the right pieces come together, not forced, but something that just simply exists. And this is the way the two men approach their music careers. They live by the philosophy that music should not be controlled or limited. 

What came after the egg sandwich was the process and general enjoyment which drove the two California Hip Hoppers to collaborate creatively. While Evidence’s creative flow comes from the beat, Alchemist takes pen to tablet.  Moreover, they don’t have an excessive need for fan-base approval.  Quite frankly, these artists would make music even if they were never listened to.

But fans craved for more.

And now their first full length album Lord Steppington is ready to be heard.  Even though the two do not consider themselves a traditional rap duo, the chemistry they exhibited in my phone interview gave me a glimpse of not only their mutual love for their art, but also their mutual love for whimsy.

How did you two meet?

Alchemist: [Evidence] used to work at a place that sells sandwiches—a mobile—like one of those Mexican trucks.  He used to work in the truck.  It was like a family business or something, but it was really well known in Venice [California].  And they used to make this egg sandwich called the Eggs Roscoe.  It was like an egg, and you cut out the middle of the toast.  It was the shit. They were very well known for it.  His family is very well known throughout Venice.


What is it that made you two know you wanted to create music together?

Alchemist: You know [Evidence] is a really good rapper.  And he makes words up and puts them on the beats.  It just worked out.  We just lived in the same neighborhood.  It was magic.  Magical.


Evidence: We were the only two people around who weren’t black.  We have a common admiration for marijuana.  The truck wasn’t always just for making food.


Alchemist: He was my drug dealer back in the day.  And he always sold me the worst weed.  With the money he made selling shit weed, he would buy the good weed and smoke it.  I bought a lot of shitty weed out of Evidence, but I didn’t know any different [at the time].


Evidence: I’m standing in the middle of my street right now cause the reception is shitty.  I’m trying not to get hit by a car.


Alchemist: Do me a favor, Evidence? Make sure you have shoes on.


Evidence: I don’t wear shoes.  And Alchemist sleeps with one shoe on.


Is the “Step Masters” music video an accurate depiction of your friendship?

Evidence: Loosely.


Alchemist: One hundred and ten percent.


This project was announced on New Year’s Day 2013.  I assumed Lord Steppington would be released earlier.  Is there a reason for this?

Alchemist: I assumed it as well.  I’m still confused as we speak.  But, I am thankful that it will be coming out on January 21st [2014] on Rhymesayers Records.  And I am grateful for the opportunity to share my rap and beats to the world at such a high level.  There are only three labels left in the rap game, and Rhymesayers is one of them.  They are saying that pretty soon all labels will be live streaming their music.  So, [Rhymesayers] is at the forefront of that technology.


There appears to be a regal vibe on the cover of Lord Steppington.  How did that come about?


Alchemist: You know how people with an English accent can say something really rude, but it still sounds very elegant. They can say “Suck my dick, you piece of shit, asshole”, but they can get away with anything.  Saying something rude behind a very regal accent—I’m inspired by that.


Why did you use Kanye West’s acceptance speech as the intro and outro for the song “Byron G”?

Evidence:  The best album of 2013 are the Kanye West interviews.  But this song has been done for like eight months.  So there was no YouTube phenomenon of Kanye West interviews happening yet at the time.  We have to get a little bit of credit for using an earlier [Kanye] rant from the MTV European music awards.  It just sounded like a real dickhead thing to say.


Alchemist’s original rap group from 1990’s was The Whooliganz, which featured the actor Scott Caan.  How did the decision come about to include the old group, The Whooliganz into the album, Lord Steppington?

Alchemist:  Well, Evidence gave us a verse on our Whooliganz album back in 1993.  And we still owed him.  So, we never really paid him back.  Scott [Caan] was like, remember that verse you did on “All Across the Map”? Scott Caan is an amazing rapper.  It will all be seen in the world that they were sleeping on him in 1993.  But we are going to wake them up in 2014.


Since both of you are rappers and producers, how do the two mindsets compare?

Evidence: I hang out with rappers who literally write from the second they wake up.  They have books upon books upon notebooks [of rhymes].  It’s what they do.  I’m more driven by the beat.  Even though I’m more of a rapper/performer/producer, it’s the beat which usually inspires me to write. I’d rather wake up, get high, drink coffee, then go to the drum machine and do records or play someone else’s beats.  And it’s that type of thing that will get me writing—more than just sitting on a park bench, looking around at the scenery, and wanting to pick up a pen.


Alchemist: Or a tablet.  I have a crazy amount of tablets from years and years of writing.  I can dig into any of my tablets.  They all are pretty much organized.  I have a rhyme for pretty much any rapper. I have at least four bars, just in case.  You never know.  I just have them within various tablets.


On top of working on Lord Steppington, Evidence, you have been working on Dilated Peoples new album and you, Alchemist, also released four projects this year.   Was it difficult juggling all these projects?

Alchemist: No. They all found their own place.  There are twelve months in a year and a lot of days in those months.  So you could probably put even more out.  I don’t know what everyone else is doing, but all you have to do is put music out—you can have it—if you have [music] just lay it out on the table. Do what you gotta do.


How would you describe your sound on this album?

Evidence: An entertaining cipher.


Alchemist: It’s like dirty guys with long hair who play Rock and get no pussy and make like twelve minute songs.  But, we get pussy, and we don’t have long hair.


Evidence: My hair is getting pretty long now.


Do you two want to continue working together or is this just a onetime thing?


Evidence: No, this is it. Once this goes out of print, they aren’t going to re-print music. Like in 40 years, someone is going to be digging through virtual record store bins, and they are going to see this shit.  And, they are going to want it.  [The hard copy of Lord Steppington] is going to be velvet.


Alchemist: It’s going to be a collectible.


Evidence: It is going to be a collectible. You know when you go into record stores, and you are like Dude, a Beatles album for like 600 dollars? Why the fuck does it cost this much? And people are going to be like because it’s a collectible.


Alchemist: This is like the Traveling Wilburys when Roy Orbison hooked up with like—who was it?—Paul McCartney? [Note: Traveling Wilburys consisted of Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne.  Paul McCartney wasn’t a member of the Traveling Wilburys].  It was a brief, excellent moment of collaborative forces [in music history].


So, am I right in saying that you guys consider Step Brothers to be only a onetime collaboration and not a group?

Evidence: No, we are not a group.  We’ve never been a group.  We just made a bunch of music and labeled it “Step Brothers” instead of “Evidence featuring Alchemist” or “Alchemist featuring Evidence”.  And people said more!  So we were like fuck it.  We’ve been doing this shit every day for years. Whether these songs [on Lord Steppington] came out or didn’t, they would have happened whether you heard it or you didn’t.  These songs would have been created on regular days just making music.  We never set out to make an album or set out to become a group.  Things aren’t what you make them to be. They just simply are.


Alchemist: This is lightening in a bottle.  And that’s basically it.  This is lightening in a bottle.


Back in July 2013, HipHopDX reported that Slug (of Atmosphere) had an interest in creating a project with you, Alchemist. Will this project manifest into reality?

Alchemist: Well, I think it’s just a matter of which project we drop first.  Cause we’ve already done a lot of stuff.  Slug is a legend.  If allowed, the world will hear it. You gotta ask Slug. You know what—you gotta ask Ant.  Cause Ant has everything in the hard drive.  If you know him, he gives out information easily.


Pick one album of any genre that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Alchemist: Billy Joel.  “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant”—that song specifically.  [It’s] more powerful than people’s whole albums.  That song is a masterpiece.  Watch it live.  That song has the strength of an album.  It will change your life.


Evidence: I’m gonna go with Supreme Clientele by Ghostface Killah.  It’s a good album—man—from beginning to end.  It’s a great vibe.


The Alchemist on Facebook and Twitter

Evidence on Facebook and Twitter

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Marcel Hidalgo was born in New York City and holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College. Besides Prefix Mag, his work has also appeared in The Huffington Post, theNewerYork, and an article is forthcoming in Carrier Pigeon Magazine. Follow Marcel Hidalgo on Twitter: @MarcelFHidalgo