Preferring a literate style over simple hooks or radio-friendly fodder, Detroit rapper Boldy James delivers sharply focused rhymes that describe drug deals in acute detail. Some of his best-received work, including 2013′s My 1st Chemistry Set and 2020′s The Price of Tea in China, has been produced by the Alchemist, whose minimalist production befits Boldy’s cold, unflinching narratives. 2020′s Manger on McNichols, a jazzy collaboration with Sterling Toles, represented a new height in his artistry. He followed it with the Griselda-issued The Versace Tape and further Alchemist productions such as 2021′s Super Tecmo Bo. A prolific 2022 included efforts with Nicholas Craven (Fair Exchange No Robbery) and Cuns (Be That as It May).
Born in Atlanta but raised in Detroit, where his parents were originally from, James Clay Jones III established Boldy James as his stage name in tribute to his friend Boldy, who was murdered. The cousin of rapper/producer and Cool Kids member Chuck Inglish, Boldy made appearances on Cool Kids mixtapes before releasing his first tape, Trapper’s Alley: Pros and Cons, in 2011. Consignment: Favor for a Favor, the Redi-Rock Mixtape followed in 2012, and the EP Grand Quarters preceded My 1st Chemistry Set, Boldy’s Alchemist-produced studio debut, issued by Decon in 2013.
Boldy became one of the first signees to Nas’ Mass Appeal Records in 2014. His output for the label included the 2015 mixtape Trapper's Alley 2: Risk vs. Reward, 2017 EP The Art of Rock Climbing, and 2017 mixtape House of Blues. He went independent with 2018′s Live at the Roxy (Tabs & Caps), then linked back up with the Alchemist for 2019′s Boldface EP and 2020′s full-length The Price of Tea in China. Soon after the album was released, Buffalo-based Griselda Records announced that they had signed Boldy. Following Manger on McNichols, a jazzy and long-gestating LP made with producer Sterling Toles, Boldy released his Griselda debut, The Versace Tape. He capped off an especially prolific period with Real Bad Boldy, his fourth full-length project of 2020, self-issued by album collaborator Real Bad Man.
Two albums with the Alchemist, Bo Jackson and Super Tecmo Bo, were released in 2021. Numerous Boldy albums appeared in 2022. Killing Nothing, a second effort with Real Bad Man, appeared in May, followed in September by Fair Exchange No Robbery, with Nicholas Craven. Mr. Ten08, with Futurewave, was released in November, and the year closed with a collaboration with Cuns titled Be That as It May. ~ Paul Simpson & David Jeffries