Boldy James is a 38-year-old journeyman MC from Detroit, Michigan. After being signed to Nas’s Mass Appeal Records, Boldy worked with legendary producer The Alchemist to form an acclaimed debut in “My 1st Chemistry Set”. Sadly, serving a few years behind bars caused Boldy’s career to come to a halt. After being released, projects like “House of Blues” and “Latr” showed the rapper as a shell of his old self. Fortunately, this year saw his return to form as he teamed back up with Uncle Al for the ultimate creation in “The Price of Tea in China”. After a comeback story and established album of the year contender, James was signed to the hottest crew in rap, Griselda. Now joining this star-studded roster, he has put out his debut for them in “The Versace Tape“. Entirely produced by Jay Versace, will Boldy be able to keep Grisleda’s hot streak going?
Starting with “Maria”, Boldy wastes no time as he strings together a series of complex words relating to drugs, prison, and his crime-ridden past. After showing us his street credit, “Nu Wave” switches things up as James looks back at the improbable odds he had to overcome to reach where he is today. “Cartier” pushes the previous ideas Boldy has referred to, but the verse from Elcamino gives the track life due to the polarizing tone of his delivery. “Brick Van Exel” and “Monte Cristo” add more context to the ever-growing gangster gospel of Boldy James. “Long Live Julio” was a definite standout as in under two minutes, the Detroit MC sums up an intense story that is lyrically painted with sports and pop culture references. After this, the next few tracks all follow similar themes, but the songwriting of Boldy James keeps it fairly interesting. The album’s finale, “Roxycntin”, features Griselda leader Westside Gunn Keisha Plum and Tiona Denice. It is clear Boldy ups his performance as his sped-up flow here is one of the best on the entire album. Unfortunately, we don’t even see a verse from Gunn as he just gives a quick speech. All in all, “The Versace Tape” proves that Boldy James can keep up with his newly found Griselda family.
Sonically, producer Jay Versace puts together a unique soundtrack, which perfectly matches Boldy James’s style. Using nearly no drums, each instrumental is almost entirely sample-based. We see this at its pinnacle on cuts like “Maria” and “Monte Cristo”. “Long Live Julio” was one of my favorite instrumentals as its chopped up soul and jazz samples are mastered in beautifully. In typical Griselda fashion, there is a series of skits placed throughout the album. While on some of their records, they come off as annoying and unnecessary, cuts like “Pony Down Intro”, and “Cartier” help echo the drama that Boldy has lived through. Overall, this record serves as another testament to the fact that Jay Versace is one of the elite producers in today’s game.
In conclusion, “The Versace Tape” isn’t as good as “The Price of Tea in China” but, its still another solid addition to the evergrowing catalog of Griselda Records. Like Westside Gunn’s “Flygod Is An Awesome God II” the project is enjoyable, but it doesn’t push boundaries as far as some of their other works. Going forward, this is just the beginning of Griselda’s dominance this month as we have releases from Armani Ceaser, Conway The Machine, and Westside Gunn all coming. For Boldy James, I think he will continue to grow and flesh out his discography as a member of this highly respected team!