In 2020, despite the world being on fire, one rapper was grinding hard with not one or two but 4 LPs released that year (each under a different producer), and that rapper is Boldy James. He’s a Detroit rapper who has garnered much attention from releases like The Versace Tape (with producer Jay Versace), Real Bad Boldy (with Real Bad Man), and Manger on McNichols with (Sterling Toles), but of course the project that won me over was the one produced by The Alchemist with The Price of Tea in China. His 2020 wasn’t too shabby either between that and his critically-acclaimed and Grammy-nominated album Alfredo with Freddie Gibbs (and they should’ve won that award but that’s another story), even continuing into in 2021 with their recent team-up with Armand Hammer, Haram.
Now, they’re teaming up again for another project entitled Bo Jackson, and in case you’re like me and wondering who that is if you’re not much of a sports nerd, he’s a pro-baseball and football player from Bessemer, Alabama who often says ‘Bo Jackson’ every time on his tracks. Now going in knowing more about Boldy James and his style as well as looking at the track list with features including Earl Sweatshirt, Roc Marciano among others, I was highly anticipating this, especially with the singles “First 48 Freestyle” & “Drug Zone” which… oddly enough are the closing tracks of the album.
Now going in this album, I knew what content to expect from Boldy at this point. He’s a story teller going into detail about his daily life and the environment around him, and the way he delivers it is always nonchalant and unbothered. Of course, with it being named Bo Jackson, there are some sports references in there as well.
On the H-E-double hockey sticks, we keep a strig
When it come to creature biz, I make sure I keep in touch with papi bricks
Bruno my consigliere, from the craft to the roll
Used to put that bag on the road, now it’s in the air
Last don of a dyin’ breed, real niggas rare
Louboutin sneaks, got at least twelve differеnt pairs
Ice wires, diamonds cuttin’ up like I’m Mikе Myers
Gotta shoot it up in front of me, the first time buyers
Drug zone, 7-6, dead zone 49ers
“Double Hockey Sticks” was a great start to the album, and the way the beat switch came later on was a chef’s kiss of beat switches, just excellent overall. Then come in the coke rap bars on tracks like “EPMD” (strangely enough the third time this year there’s been a track named after the hip hop duo), and “Brickmile to Montana” with returning feature Benny The Butcher delivering the business as always.
“Photographic Memories” has an excellent sample loop that carries this eerie, mournful vibe that made for my one of my favorite instrumentals of the album, and the guest verses from Earl Sweatshirt and Roc Marciano added to it being my favorite track on the project, remembering vivid memories of how some deals will go or even depression.
Niggas winnin’ Grammys now, five star livin’
On the 5 South, jammin’ out, Heisman magic
Stickin’ out an arm and they standin’ down, cram it in
Stamp and send the package out, Jackson style
Something wicked inbound, fast
Wind whippin’ up disasters in the distant clouds
Hit the basement, the moon full at its roundest
Wolves howlin’, cleared up a couple counts
Broke generational curses with my cursive (Yup)
I understand the game and I know all of the inner workings (I do)
The pain run deep, you only see what it is on the surface
My bitch in there squeaky-clean, but the work was sittin’ in her cervix (Boofed it)
For all the dirt, we might need detergent for cleanin’ purpose
Bloody money in the machine circlin’, the precursor
The rest of the album has a solid, healthy list of features such as Stove God Cooks doing the chorus and intro on “Diamond Dallas”, with the production having that dusty blues aesthetic. We get a mini Fetti reunion with the track “Fake Flowers” where Boldy, Curren$y and Freddie Gibbs do their sets of bars on here with that lavish, stylish Alchemist production, and the way Freddie starts out his verse. (Ha, I’m so proud, haha, yeah, nigga, fuck them kids / I ain’t your mentor or your role model).
Speaking of The Alchemist, his production game on here shines so much from the way he use samples and looping to the sequencing on said production that transition in the song to the next, it’s quite amazing. Another track I think has some great production on here is “Illegal Search and Seizure,” and that was another favorite track on here, with the only problem I had being that I wanted more of the song.
I went back to The Price of Tea in China a lot when it came out and gave either the whole album or certain individual tracks a lot of re-listens (yes, that included the deluxe version of that which was 4 extra tracks, 16 in total, so it wasn’t bloated as many rap deluxe albums nowadays), and I dug a lot of those songs from front to back. With this one… I can’t rule that out yet but I know that I’m definitely feeling this album, having given it a lot of listens since it first came out. It’s more of what I liked about the last album of theirs, from the content of the bars to the unique production that shines throughout, the Bo Jackson LP is another solid piece of underground hip-hop that excellently executes what it’s doing.
FINAL VERDICT: Buy It. It’s a home run! Or a touchdown! I’m using sports analogies to say this album is great.
BO JACKSON is available on digital download and streaming services. You can also purchase the album via ALC Records site.