It’s likely that only diehard Boldy James fans understand how perfect a complement he is to the Griselda Records roster. The Detroit MC’s focus has always been lyrically proficient street rap, but in 2020 alone, his ear for production would manifest collaborative tapes with beloved Mobb Deep collaborator The Alchemist (The Price of Tea in China), jazz musician Sterling Toles (Manger on McNichols), social media content creator Jay Versace (The Versace Tape), and fashion label/production collective Real Bad Man. The man likes to rap. And if there’s one thing Griselda doesn’t do, it’s hold back projects where their MCs go off.
James’ first release of 2021, Bo Jackson, clearly fits the mold. Look no further than the album opener “Double Hockey Sticks” for Donald Goines-vivid streetlife scenarios unfurled in James’ signature deadpan: “My bitch scored and hit a game-changer/I made her transport the work in her Keyshia Ka'oir waist trainer/Say she gon' leave me and I can’t blame her/’Cause I was cutting up my side bitch raw with the same razor,” he raps. The Alchemist is, here, who he was for The Price of Tea in China and the James/Alc collaborative project that preceded that, 2019’s Boldface: a producer whose one-of-a-kind loops bring the best out of an MC who never really needed the help.