The Great Escape

The Alchemist • Larry June

Empire • 2023

The Great Escape is a chemical reaction between two contrary approaches to hip-hop that balance each other to a perfect pH. This is album is a testament to the power of the proverbial ‘power duo’. There have been many. Zapp and Roger. Hall and Oats. Cleopatra and Marc Antony. Al and Peggy Bundy. It’s this album’s balance and coordination allow its execution to be effective. While The Alchemist is very popular, I find this album to be his best work mainly because he is working with strong structures and subtext that I don’t hear in his other work. I find his other work to be somewhat scatterbrained and arbitrary, with a lot of misdirected creativity. Larry June is an animal on this album. As usual. What’s great is that the album creates a perfect product that focuses The Alchemists creative drive while, simultaneously, making Larry June’s input more interesting and diverse. Thematically bringing about concepts of getting away, bridging ideas, change, and triumph, every song lends its listeners the keys to the Porsche 911. There’s also driving funk, soul, and r&b dynamics within the beats and cadences that lend to the lyrical theme. The beats seal the deal for me. Reminds me of DJ Shadow or Dan the Automator’s work. While it doesn’t rival Cheat Codes by Danger Mouse and Black Thought, it still stands on its own two feet. Both albums are by hip-hop duos that highlight the importance of intelligent collaboration, innovation, and forethought in music. Guest appearances on The Great Escape include Action Bronson, Big Sean, Ty Dolla $ign, Slum Village, Boldy James, Evidence, Wiz Khalifa, Jay Worthy, Joey Bada$$, Curren$y, and Slum Village. Just like it’s 1963 namesake starring Steve McQueen, The Great Escape is a well done and memorable album. I’ll be listening to it regularly.