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by Armand Hammer & the Alchemist

Released March 26, 2021 via Backwoodz Studios

Reviewed April 5, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Falling out the Sky (63%), Black Sunlight (42%), Chicharonnes (38%)

With The Alchemist helming Armand Hammer's 2021 effort Haram, all that’s left for the band is their instruments: their voice, their body, and the music it could conceive. The beats are cut from the same cloth that both Billy Woods and Elucid weave their tapestries upon; it’s a match, and although Uncle Al can click with so many MCs, this feels hopelessly brilliant. Despite what could happen outside of their studio, that studio is this trio’s temple. Their notebook of ideas is a conductor for life’s bounties, whether it’s scratched by the pen or a set of fingers wildly dancing upon a screen. Hope alone is far different, and far less genuine, than hope in the hopeless world of God’s Country. Haram is that ambition in an ambition-less environment. It never sacrifices an ounce of its soul, no matter how high the water rises. An essential listen for anyone living in 2021. – Ben (Synth) (9/10)

To an underground hip-hop fan, the uniting of Armand Hammer’s billy woods and Elucid with The Alchemist sounds pretty great. However, when you overthink it a bit, the two camps’ styles actually differ in most ways. The Alchemist is a master at providing a lush, almost steamy type of atmosphere to a cast of high-profile characters (recently working with Freddie Gibbs, Action Bronson, and Boldy James). Armand Hammer, on the other hand, usually demonstrates a brittle, harsh impression reflective of their surroundings and circumstances. Haram certainly leans into the latter of those camps, with The Alchemist proving yet again he’s at the top of the producer food chain for his chameleon-like adaptability alone. The producer-rapper chemistry here is fantastic simply because The Alchemist doesn’t force the duo out of their comfort zone (which is all but comforting). woods and Elucid are still as emotionally provocative and honest as ever in their dissection of how horrible everything is. However, with a producer of The Alchemists’ caliber providing their mesmerizing, disorienting brand of musicality, it actually takes their themes a step further, providing another dense layer. On Haram, there are minute bursts of pale light that are entirely absent from other records and Armand Hammer’s expansive tundra of depressing motifs, an occurrence that is slightly comforting as you drag yourself along their cold wasteland. – Pax (8.7/10)

Billy Woods and Elucid are back, nine months removed from Shrines, and this time in the company of a marquee (and Grammy nominated) producer in The Alchemist. On paper, this collaboration already figured to be an exciting one, and that notion became a reality in the end. Armand Hammer made use of Al's most abstract tendencies, pushing him a bit beyond his comfort zones to evolve his productive resume. Simultaneously, the cult presence that surrounds an Alchemist-produced project naturally guides Armand Hammer’s sound to new places. Iron sharpens iron here, and each of the three parties involved are elevating themselves to meet each other at higher halfway points thus building something a bit greater than the sum of its parts in Haram. – DeVán (8.5/10)

Jared: 9.5/10 | Ben (Synth): 9/10 | Cam: 8.8/10 | Pax: 8.7/10 | Alan: 8.7/10

DeVán: 8.5/10 | Enth: 8.5/10 | Daniel: 8/10 | Hadley: 8/10

Peter: 8/10 | Dominick: 7/10


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