I’ve got some bad news for you — “Israeli Salad” by The Alchemist is long out of print. It was only distributed on vinyl through his own imprint, ALC Records, and has not been re-issued once in the last seven years. The news gets worse — a deluxe edition was printed at the same time that is even MORE rare. The standard edition averages $195 on the secondhand market, the deluxe edition $300, and let’s not even contemplate what someone would demand for a “sealed graded” copy if records were treated like video games. The one piece of good news that I can offer you is that you can stream the album on YouTube and other music services.
If you’re a fan of Alchemist’s collaborations or of his instrumentals on their own, you’re going to want to listen to “Israeli Salad” either way. This album was intensely personal for Alan Maman. He was visiting his father’s homeland of Israel when he conceived of creating an entire album made from Israeli samples. Now we live in an era where a certain disgraced producer/rapper whose name I won’t mention has become a dog whistle every antisemitic bigot can hear. Hate crimes against Jewish people are at an all time high, and despite that aforementioned artist losing nearly every endorsement and sponsorship he ever had, he refuses to apologize for blaming everything he feels is wrong in the world on fabricated Jewish conspiracies. Alchemist may have released this album in 2015, but it feels far more relevant in 2023 because of the current social and political climate.
Hip-Hop desperately needs an album like this. The Alchemist takes the same passion for producing he’s shared with the likes of Prodigy (RIP), Roc Marciano, Freddie Gibbs and Curren$y and applied it to pride in his roots. It’s a beautiful thing. Every person walking this Earth should be able to celebrate their cultural heritage and/or religious beliefs without fear of being crucified for it. That fear has become far too real for too many people. Some will call it “woke” to say every culture is worth celebrating, but I have yet to find one that didn’t have its own unique food, music and art that enriches all of our lives. Would you rather live in a homogeneous world made up of only one culture? One without Indian curry, without South African Kwaito music, without Japanese woodblock printing and Canadian beer? I wouldn’t. A “salad” is any mixture of different elements to be consumed together and that’s what Alchemist offers us here — an Israeli hip-hop mix.
To be sure this album is important at a moment like this, but “Israeli Salad” is also a tasty nutritious meal that my audio canal couldn’t digest enough of. I wouldn’t be telling you to seek it out if it wasn’t this good, especially given the high prices that original copies fetch, which means in all likelihood I’ll never own the original NOR the deluxe edition of this record. Maybe at some point Mr. Maman will relent and re-issue the record at a reasonable price (or perhaps an even MORE reasonably priced compact disc), but until them stream it and enjoy the flavors digitally.