At first I thought “The Food Villain” was The Alchemist paying tribute to rap’s illest villain of all time Daniel Dumile (may he Rest In Power). I suppose in a sense though, it really is. As much as we enjoyed the madcap ALL CAPS raps, MF DOOM was just as much of a virtuoso behind the boards as Alan Maman. The two had completely different backgrounds, completely different countries of origin and ethnicity even, but their love of hip-hop music showed through in everything they did. Since Dumile is no longer here to get his flowers, by all means let’s make sure Maman gets his.
Even though most of the album is Maman doing his musical experiments to great effect, there’s a very appropriate from hip-hop’s most famous chef (and pro wrestler) Action Bronson on “I Hate Everything.” A video with a cameo from Alex would have been hilarious, but that cut could be too deep for the room. It’s only 83 seconds, so I hesitate to call it a rap, but it still makes me me smile when he spits a few bars like “Got me a ride or die bitch like Magic Johnson’s wife/I wish my parents named me Constantine.” He’s clearly having fun and so is Maman, and the same holds true for the album’s other notable cameo from Big Body Bes on “Islamic Excellence.”
It wouldn’t be hard for Alchemist to do a 2023 style Prince Paul concept album with a mixture of songs and skits performed by all of his friends in rap while he produces. In fact, why not Al? You can have that one for free, no credit required. As long as you crazy cool tracks on it like “Blow Your Mind Out” on it, I’m fine with getting none whatsoever. The only bad thing about this is that it’s only 93 seconds long. You’re enjoying the vibes and the culinary dialogue snippets and it suddenly ends. It feels like an Anthony Bourdain rap album (may he also Rest In Power).
The irony of calling a song “The Angry Guy” is that I can’t picture anybody less angry than Mr. Maman. He gets to do exactly what he wants, how he wants, and release it when he wants. This could make some people lazy given they have a built in audience to lap up everything they do, but he always seems to find a theme to inspire him, and then dig for ever more obscure sources to sample to put it together. Okay maybe Al Pacino snippets from “Scarface” aren’t so obscure, but they’re part and parcel of what hip-hop is, so throw them into this salad too.
It’s going to be a while before The Alchemist makes an instrumental album that I don’t fuck with, and today is not that day. “The Food Villain” is worth listening to any way you can get your ears on it. If there’s a CD, go cop that. If there’s vinyl, go to Record Store Day and cop that. If you can’t find it anywhere but Spotify or YouTube, go play that. If you’re a fan of the top level of producers in the rap game getting crazy wild with their own ideas and still having them turn out dope, Al’s your Maman.