Boldy James and Nicholas Craven Remain a Perfect Fit on "Brand New Chanel Kicks"

Exclaim! Staff Picks

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Nov 17, 2023

Toward the end of 2022, Boldy James and Nicholas Craven delivered a winning cross-border collaboration in the solemn, wintry Fair Exchange No Robbery. As the season calls for that album to be put in regular rotation once more, the two have revealed a follow-up titled Penalty of Leadership is on the way with the arrival of first single "Brand New Chanel Kicks," reaffirming just how great a match the in-demand Detroit MC and equally sought-after Montreal-based producer are for one another. 

Craven has previously shared that the production featured on Fair Exchange was born from his own fandom of Boldy's style. Stacked against the magisterial melodics the producer has crafted for Mach-Hommy and the evocative, soulful sounds supplied to Navy Blue, both those beats and that of "Brand New Chanel Kicks" — centred around a delicate bell figure and intermittent snare patter — communicate a glacial solitude soon warmed by the MC's low register and sombre delivery.

As illustrated in the single's artwork by Gallery Provence, "Brand New Chanel Kicks" was cut with Boldy in a wheelchair and neck brace, five days after his release from hospital following a serious car accident that resulted in extensive surgery on his neck. "Three weeks ago was paralyzed, my peoples all was terrified," he recalls, adamant that the near-fatal setback won't slow him in the least: "Got a sale for two P's of powder and a brick in the Cherokee / Right after I do these three hours of physical therapy / Countin' my blessings, don't know why he keep sparing me."

A monologue to close the song — in which Boldy describes "screws and rods all in my shit" and how he "couldn't even move [his] motherfuckin' toes" — further proves his unshakeable determination in the aftermath: "I'm back standin' on the business. Yeah, back walkin' with my walker. Can stand up out my wheelchair strong."


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