Boldy James and Alchemist - My 1st Chemistry Set (Review)

Boldy James and Alchemist - My 1st Chemistry Set

"My 1st Chemistry Set" is the debut album from Detroit emcee Boldy James. The album features guest appearances from Action Bronson, Earl Sweatshirt, Domo Genesis, Freeway and others and is fully produced by prolific hip-hop producer Alchemist. It is set to be released on October 15, 2013 through Decon Records.


1) BOLD - The album begins with a cinematic Alchemist instrumental that should get your head-nodding right out the gate. The beat is ill, with a chopped up vocal sample and dark violins over gritty drums. I must admit that I'm not that familiar with a lot of Boldy James' prior work, but he sounds really good on here, spitting some violent street raps in a voice and flow that reminds me somewhat of Prodigy (of Mobb Deep). Dope way to start off the album. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.

2) Consideration - Alchemist proves why he is one of my favorite producers of all time and delivers a crazy instrumental that has a dusky, night-time vibe going for it. It sounds like something that I would have listened too while playing "GTA: Vice City" back in the day because it has a sort of "Miami Vice" feel. Lyrically Boldy James comes correct, spitting some boastful rhymes about his extravagent lifestyle. His flow is a little overly laid-back, but it works within the scope of the song. Very dope.

3) Moochie - This was the first single released from the album and its banging. The beat is dope as hell, with a menacing sample layered over head-nodding drums. Boldy James comes though and rips it, kicking rhymes full of street slang and nicknames similar to Big L's classic track "Ebonics". This shit is absolute fire. So far this album is shaping up to be something serious.

4) Traction (featuring Action Bronson) - The beats on this album just keep getting better and better. While the past few songs have all had a darker vibe to them, this one has a celebratory feel to it with a cinematic string and vocal sample layered over deep bass and upbeat drums. Both Boldy James and Action Bronson sound right at home over the instrumental, kicking some humorously violent and braggadocios rhymes while showing that they have great chemistry together on the mic. Dope shit.

5) You Know - This song has a chopped up vocal sample over energetic drums and ambient percussion that embodies that classic Alchemist sound. You can tell that this track is produced by him the second you hear it. Lyrically Boldy James comes through and does his thing, kicking more potent rhymes about dealing drugs and about his clout in the street. Very ill.

6) Surprise Party (featuring King Chip and Freeway) - Boldy James and guests King Chip (formerly Chip the Rapper) and Philadelphia Freeway spit some vivid street stories over a haunting Alchemist instrumental. The beat is laid-back but menacing, with a chopped up vocal sample that Alan the Chemist flips beautifully. Another banger.
 
7) What's the Word - The instrumental on this song has another chopped up soul sample who's easy-going vibe contrasts slightly with the gritty drug dealing and street rhymes that Boldy spits over it. Despite that, the beat is excellent and Boldy James comes correct over it, rapping in a slower, somewhat monotone flow. That's not a knock against Boldy though. He is really impressing me on the album so far. Dope shit.

8) Rappies (featuring Mafia Double Dee and Peechie Green) - Alchemist comes through with another banger, this time with organs, resonant synths and the occasional vocal sample and guitars blended in. The beat is lush and Boldy does his thing over it, reminding me yet again of Prodigy in both style and delivery. Guests Mafia Double Dee and Peechie Green also sound pretty good on here, but I think Boldy James has the best contribution to the song. Very nice.

9) Cobo Hall - The instrumental on this song has a foreboding backing sample, synths and ominous keys over hard-hitting drums. It sounds like something I would love to hear Mobb Deep come in and wreck, but Boldy James holds his own as he goes solo over it. Lyrically its just more of the same violent street rhymes, but this shit is hard as hell. Dope.

10) Give Me A Reason (featuring Vince Staples) - Boldy James shares the mic with Cutthroat Boyz emcee Vince Staples as both emcees beg you to just give them a reason to put you in your place. As expected the beat is ill, with a laid-back guitar sample, soft chimes and head-nodding drums. The song as a whole is really relaxing despite the subject matter being anything but. Nice.

11) 400 Thousand - This beat on this track has some breezy guitars, choppy synths and entrancing pianos over hard-hitting drums. The instrumental is absolute fire and Boldy James rips it, spitting a few bars about gettin' his paper in a smooth, easygoing flow. The song ends with a crazy sample that sounds like something straight out of an 80's thriller movie. This shit is fire.

12) Reform School (featuring Earl Sweatshirt, Da$h and Domo Genesis) - This posse cut features Boldy James kicking some rhymes alongside Odd Future's Earl Sweatshirt and Domo Genesis as well as another emcee that I'm not familiar with - Da$h. The instrumental is real laid-back and features a moody sample with plodding drums that help to accentuate the lyrics of all four emcees. I'm feelin' this shit. Very dope.

13) KY Jellybeans - The final song on the album has textured instrumental that has a bunch of different layers coming together to form the full beat. Despite the complexity of the instrumental, it doesn't really overshadow the lyrics that much as Boldy James flows over it effortlessly. While its not my favorite song on here, this shit is still really ill. Dope way to close out the album.

I'm going to rate the album

4.25 / 5

because it's absolute fire. Alchemists beats are stellar throughout, as should be expected at this point, with many being some of the strongest instrumentals he has released all year. In fact, I may go as far as to say this is better produced than Durag Dynasty's "360 Waves", Prodigy and Alchemist's "Albert Einstein" and Willie the Kid and Alchemist's "Masterpiece Theatre". With that being said, this is my first time really checking out any of Boldy James output as an emcee and he really impressed me on here. His voice and delivery are both nice and his street lyrics are very clever at times. I've heard some people say that they think his delivery is a bit monotone, and I agree, but I actually find that to be part of his appeal. Regardless, this shit is dope and is easily one of the best albums of 2013.

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