You would think that the prolific beatmaker known as the Alchemist was Jamaican, because he has almost just as many jobs as a Jamaican. Of course, by “jobs” I mean “joint projects” (no pun intended). In the past four years, the man has produced entire albums for the likes of Conway the Machine, Freddie Gibbs, Boldy James, and Roc Marciano. But producing a record with Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt is different territory because, unlike the aforementioned four emcees, Earl isn’t a coke rhymer. In fact, their collaboration has been so low-key that The Alchemist dropped clues about it back in 2019, leading to something of a scavenger hunt on YouTube for it this past summer. The album, “Voir Dire”, eventually did drop in August, but the recently-released streamed album is actually the original version of it. The album’s title is French, the literal translation of which is “to speak the truth”, with the album cover depicting the Grim Reaper with a gavel.

The Alchemist’s beats vary, from a looped vintage soul sample with no drums to a few samples complete with snares, hi-hats, and just basically pulling out all of the stops. The man’s a crate digger, and that calling to find unique sounds to flip is no different on “Voir Dire.” It starts off with “100 High Street.” Over some lo-fi snares and a looped violin sample, Earl raps with his lackadaisical flow and spitting stream-of-consciousness rhymes. The first single, “Sentry”, features New York City rapper MIKE. Though chosen as the initial single, it’s awfully lackluster. Earl did as well as can be expected, but MIKE raps as though he has marbles in his mouth while the beat is just an R&B sample with partial vocals looped around. It gets better on “Heat Check”, which has The Alchemist sampling what sounds like a polished R&B track from the 1980’s. The single “Vin Skully” is both apt and mellow: Not only does it utilize a vocal sample from the late baseball announcer of the same name, but it also makes use of a blues guitar sample that goes with Earl’s laid-back drawl:



Fellow west coast emcee Vince Staples makes the first of his two guest appearances on “Mancala”, with The Alchemist tinging the beat with some heavy Gospel elements. The production on “27 Braids” has some airy guitars and drums, akin to urban psychedelia from the 1970’s. Lyrically, Earl sounds confident with his bars: “I’m tryna farm up some lavish green with the fam / Lavash bread, sharin’ everything with the team / Spreading seeds, spilling drinks for the dead / Godspeed, into the league but I’m still ahead.” Next up is “Mac Deuce”. On a side note, the songs on this album lack hooks and consist of Earl rapping various amounts of bars per track and “Mac Deuce” is no different, though he peppers the lyrics with boxing references. The atmospheric “The Caliphate” is the second appearance of Vince Staples. Sharing two verses each, both men loosely rap about street tales:



For “Sirius Blac”, The Alchemist slows down the beat to match Earl’s slurred slow flow and does more of the same on “Dead Zone.” For the album closer, “Free the Ruler”, Earl seems to be making a tribute to once-incarcerated rapper Drako the Ruler. Overall, “Voir Dire” isn’t bad. But to speak the truth, in the spirit of the album, both men have had more superior output. Plus, The Alchemist’s beats are usually better suited for rappers with gangsta motifs, because it sounds more like shared vision then.


Earl Sweatshirt x The Alchemist :: Voir Dire
7Overall Score