Hip-hop has always been about competition but determining what rappers and producers are truly the best at their craft is a highly subjective debate that results in several wide-ranging answers. Despite that, at this very moment, few, if any, MCs or beatmakers are as steady and reliable as Freddie Gibbs (bars) and The Alchemist (beats). Their new collaborative effort, Alfredo, is another slick and assertive offering in the coke-rap canon. It’s equally steeped in classic mafioso and contemporary gangsta themes and sounds – a lane over which both artists continue to exert stylistic ownership. The formula is simple. Alchemist provides a bounty of sublime rock and soul samples, while Gibbs continues to show his elite prowess as a rapper with tight-winding flows and thoughtful meditations on fame, fatherhood and freedom. On paper, the two have the obvious makeup of a dynamic tandem: a cold-blooded and nimble-flowing rap killer paired with a sonic mastermind and impresario. The work doesn’t only live up to the billing of their skills, it magnifies them.