My 1st Chemistry Set
Last year's under-appreciated Alchemist concept album, Russian Roulette, featured a handful of artists he would go on to produce full projects for: Action Bronson, Willie the Kid, Evidence and now Boldy James. The Alchemist has hit his stride, embracing the collaboration template to showcase his talents, and on My 1st Chemistry Set, both he and Boldy James prove their worth. Detroit native Boldy James caught his first break with a couple of well-received appearances alongside the Cool Kids in 2009 and has since been drifting around, building his catalogue of stark, street-based raps with mixtapes and guest spots. This album is a condensed concoction of the best he has to offer. Boldy's gritty boasts are balanced with a dash of glare and a muted sense of humour. He says, "I got 99 problems but a brick ain't one" ("Consideration"), as Alchemist flips Joe Jackson's '80s new wave hit, "Steppin' Out," thriving on the original's nightlife theme. Scratches and breakbeats are the backdrop for "Moochie," following in the footsteps of Big L's "Ebonics" and Kardinal Offishall's "Bakardi Slang," as Boldy offers up an entertaining glossary of Motor City terms. On downtempo trunk-rattler "Surprise Party," Boldy inspires exceptional performances from guests King Chip and Freeway, as he does throughout the record, squeezing top turns from other under-the-radar hopefuls, most notably Vince Staples ("Give Me A Reason"). Throughout, the simplified rawness of Boldy James's style matches up perfectly with Alchemist's minimalist production, offering up yet another sneaky slow-burner of a collab from the journeyman producer.
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