Born Alan Maman, the Alchemist grew up in Beverly Hills and began his career in nearby Los Angeles. As a teenager, when he was known as Mudfoot, he was part of the Whooliganz (with Scott Caan, son of James) and DJ Muggs' Soul Assassins collective. The Whooliganz released the single "Put Your Handz Up" on Tommy Boy in 1993, but their debut full-length, Make Way for the W, was shelved. Alchemist continued making beats, however, working with and learning from Muggs on 1995's Cypress Hill III: Temples of Boom as well as with childhood friend Evidence of Dilated Peoples. These connections led to a prolific career.
In 2006, Alchemist continued to showcase his work with The Chemistry Files and No Days Off, a pair of mixtapes containing previously released and unreleased material. After supporting Prodigy on the 2007 album Return of the Mac and producing "You Ain't Got Nuthin" for Lil Wayne's Grammy-nominated 2008 LP Tha Carter III, Alchemist tended to his solo discography with 2009's Chemical Warfare, featuring the likes of Eminem and Juvenile. The next year, he and Oh No launched their Gangrene project with the Sawblade EP and the Gutter Water LP. The year 2012 found him releasing Vol. 2 of Rapper's Best Friend along with Gangrene's Vodka & Ayahuasca, and his own Russian Roulette, an album built by sampling Russian music. A year later, he worked again with Prodigy on the album Albert Einstein and produced the entirety of Boldy James' My 1st Chemistry Set. Affiliation with Oh No continued with Welcome to Los Santos, a 2015 collection inspired by the virtual radio stations found in the video game Grand Theft Auto V. The same year, Alchemist assembled the Israeli Salad beat tape, featuring samples from radio broadcasts and thrift store albums the producer sourced in Israel.