One of the great stories in rap music this year is Boldy James, the hard-nosed and craggy voiced Detroit underground rapper who has hit some kind of insane hot streak. In the past six months, James has released two albums — both full-length team-ups with producers, both excellent. First was The Price Of Tea In China, a spare and evocative collaboration with the Alchemist. Next was Manger On McNichols, on which the auteurist producer Sterling Toles took old James verses and slathered them in expansive jazz and electronic orchestrations. Today, we get a third one.
A couple of weeks ago, Westside Gunn posted video of himself giving James a Griselda Records chain, thus welcoming James into the flourishing Buffalo label, a great place for a hard-nosed and unflinching street-rapper. Last week, James announced the impending arrival of The Versace Tape, his first album on Griselda. This time around, James made the album with Jay Versace, a former Vine comedian who only recently got into rap production. Today, the album arrives.
The real surprise on The Versace Tape is Jay Versace, whose warm and dizzy post-Madlib beats fit Bodly James beautifully. Boldy doesn’t get quite as heavy or personal on this album as he’s done on the last two, but he’s still come with more intricately written crime-novel narratives and deadpan gallows humor. Westside Gunn, who serves as executive producer, makes an appearance, and Griselda affiliates Elcamino and Keisha Plum show up, too. Stream it below.
The Versace Tape is out now on Griselda Records.