Already on his third project this year, Detroit legend Boldy James has released his first as a member of Griselda Records. Produced by creative polymath Jay Versace, the album is conveniently titled The Versace Tape and sees Boldy continue with his incredibly introspective and animated raps over some crisp, lush and soulful production. Boldy James’ allure on the mic continues to strengthen with each and every release, as he flows effortlessly on the woozy and jazzy soundscape Jay Versace is able to create with guidance from executive producer Westside Gunn. I’ve been a fan of Jay’s work for a while now, and seeing him produce an entire album is just so inspiring. He really came into his own, exceeding my personal expectations, and I’m just happy seeing him succeed. As for Boldy James, it’s just another great, great album, cementing himself as one of the best emcees of the last decade or so.
After the opening new skit on “Pony Down Intro” (where someone gets a $2500 pair of Cartier glasses stolen off his face), the album dives into the soulful and minimal “Maria.” The track sees Boldy reflect on his successes, namely getting money, meeting Jay-Z and shining in general this year. His nonchalant, almost deadpan delivery is poignant on these colourful beats, and I think that it’s a perfect match for Jay’s incredibly lush production. The lack of drums is one noticeable feature on this project, and it’s the lush and textured grooves and samples that makes this a pretty great listen. “Cartier” featuring El Camino is a highlight on this project, with a fantastic beat and two outstanding verses from both rappers. El Camino’s animated persona is infectious, talking about street life on an animated, colourful beat. On “Long Live Julio” Boldy James reflects on his younger years dealing coke, while my personal favourite “Monte Cristo” has an incredible beat, giving Boldy James the perfect soundscape to flow effortlessly. “Cardinal Sin” similarly has an exceptional beat, with a woozy vocal sample that perfectly complements his flow and intricate raps. “Bentayga” is another stellar track, while the closer “Roxycontin” featuring Westside Gunn, Keisha Plum and Tiona Deniece is a reflective, soulful and phenomenally produced track, with short but punchy verses that perfectly complement the rich, textured production.
The Versace Tape is a short but cohesive body of work that perfectly captures Boldy James’ artistry, with complementary, phenomenal production from Jay Versace. I hope both artists continue to thrive and strive musically, because they’re still so much untapped potential for them to unleash. Great release!