Album Review | Boldy James & The Alchemist – The Price of Tea in China

This album was released on February 7th this year. Boldy James & The Alchemist released a collaborative extended play in December of last year entitled Boldface. It was pretty dope, but I was too busy at the time to listen and write a full review for it. I didn’t actually end up checking it out until a few weeks ago. The first project I ever heard from Boldy was a mixtape called Trapper’s Alley 2: Risk Vs. Reward. It had some really good stuff, but it was just way too fucking long. If I’m not mistaken, it was basically a free double album. I actually wrote a full review for it back in the day, but it’s probably deleted by now. I deleted a lot of my old reviews because they were terrible. Speaking of terrible reviews, my alter-ego, Padlock Jones, wrote a review for a mixtape called The Art of Rock Climbing, which was hosted by DJ Butter. This was either in late 2017 or early 2018. I can’t remember. Anyway, it wasn’t very good, but it had some songs on it that I still like to this day. Skantless is a really dope song to me. With all that said, my favorite Boldy James song has always been 50 Foot Razor Blade. It didn’t appear on either of the two projects I just mentioned, so I don’t really remember how I heard it. It’s fire though. It samples a Coldplay song, but it’s fucking fire. That guest verse from Peechie Green was awesome. I wonder what happened to that dude. I should look into his work and see if he’s released any music recently because I really like his verse on that song. Anyway, Boldy James & The Alchemist actually released a collaborative album back in 2013 called My 1st Chemistry Set, which I never actually listened to. I’m sure I’ll check it out some day, but for now I’m just gonna move forward instead of checking out his older stuff. Oh shit, I almost forgot to mention that it was recently announced that Boldy James would be joining Griselda. Like, he’s officially signed to that label now. I’m not sure if that’s happened yet or if it’s about to happen. All I know is that by the end of the year, Boldy James will be an official member of Griselda. That’s cool. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting that at all, but I don’t mind it. Anyway, The Alchemist is one of my favorite producers of all time, and I really loved both of the singles I heard from this album, so I think this shit is about to be fire. It’s gotten a lot of positive reception, so I have no reason to expect anything but greatness.

1. Carruth

The Alchemist’s production on this song immediately had me hooked, and I think Boldy James’ voice fits over it perfectly. This beat is amazing, and he killed it.

Grew up in a hell hole, that’s why I think so twisted
When your wifey a rich bitch, it make you treat hoes different
Had to pay my respect, ain’t takin’ likely to no threats
Take a nigga connect, kill him in blatant disrespect

I really like how the content here is more personal and autobiographical. The final quatrain of the song is really well written too. I’m not into sports at all, so I didn’t know anything about Rae Carruth, but I looked into his story after hearing this song, and the way Boldy James tied that reference together was really nice.

The moment all your tokens gone, no minutes on your phone
God bless the child that hold his own, that shit hit close to home
When everything you ever love you lost to the gun
From all that you done but down the line that could cost you a son

I think this song is pretty awesome, and I have no gripes with it at all. This shit is dope as hell.

2. Giant Slide

I wish y’all could’ve seen the way my face twisted up as soon as I heard this beat. The Alchemist is a fucking monster, man. This beat is fucking incredible. It sounds so fucking evil; I love it. I know this is a bold statement, but this might actually be the best beat I’ve heard all year. It’s literally perfect. I love the way Boldy was flowing over it too. His flow during this quatrain was so awesome to me…

Had to find a whole ‘nother route
Mappin’ out a whole ‘nother town
Slappin’ off a whole ‘nother line
Trappin’ out my whole mother house

That line about niggas’ crews looking like boy bands was nice too. I feel like it’s been a long time since a song has gotten this kind of reaction out of me. I fucking love this shit though. The hook is absolutely cold blooded. I love how fucking grizzly everything about this song is. It sounds like a horror movie. A remix with Conway the Machine would be a dream come true.

Last night, somebody said they caught me hoppin’ out the ride
Slide down on a opp, pop his top, drop his guys
Cut ’em up with that chainsaw, we did the Cha-Cha Slide
Same niggas chasin’ clout who still think Pac alive

I have no issues with this song at all. It’s my favorite song on the whole album. It’s dope af.

3. Surf & Turf featuring Vince Staples

This song has yet another incredible beat. This one sounds more melodic than the previous instrumental, but it still sounds really desolate and melancholy. I really love the way Boldy James was flowing on that first verse. I’m glad he switched it up for the second verse though because it would’ve gotten old if he ran it into the ground. The hook is dope, and Vince Staples’ verse was cool, but I’d be lying if I said he really blew me away like I wanted him to. I feel like I’ve pretty much lost all the excitement and interest I initially had in him at this point. Overall, I definitely like this song a lot, but it’s mostly due to the production and Boldy’s flows. All the verses here are good though. This shit is dope.

4. Run-Ins

This is a good song, but I will say that it has one of my least favorite instrumentals on the album. It’s not a bad beat, but the repetitive vocal sample got really annoying to me very quickly. I actually think this song has one of Boldy’s better performances though. The lyrics aren’t amazing or anything, but the way he was flowing was nice as hell. There’s only one verse, and the song is relatively short, so it kinda feels more like an interlude than a lot of the other tracks, but I definitely fuck with it. This is a good song.

5. Scrape the Bowl featuring Benny the Butcher

Bro. The Alchemist. This beat. Yes. This beat is pure evil in the form of music. This is some of the hardest, grittiest shit I’ve heard all year. As soon as the track starts, man…


The way Boldy James & Benny the Butcher trade lines on the hook is really nice. I love how Boldy’s kinda deep voice sounds over the beat. His verse was great.

They say I got a morbid sense of humor, but that made me smile
Shoutout to my shooter, when he drill you that’s a flagrant foul
Just put in for his appeal, he told me it might take a while
Told him, “that shit bought some time, just make sure that you make it count”

Of course Benny’s performance was fire as well. This track has me super excited for The Price of Tea in China, which will also be out by the time this article is published, so be sure to get your hands on that shit if you fuck with this single.

6. Pinto

This beat is a lot smoother than any of the preceding instrumentals. It sounds really cinematic, like something I’d hear in an old movie. It reminds me of L.A. Noire for some reason. I’m not used to hearing Boldy James rap with this relatively fast paced flow, so he kinda caught me off guard here. Something about the way he was riding the beat on the first verse felt a little off to me, but overall it was pretty dope. The part where he started referencing a bunch of different drugs was really nice.

Bitches know I got the juice, niggas know it’s been the drill
Niggas whipping Robitussin, mixing it with Benadryl
Get a brick of blow and cut it, hit it with the fentanyl
Baby bottle spoiled up, I ain’t talking Enfamil

Both of the verses are pretty good despite that tiny gripe I had with his flow. I was admittedly more impressed by the production than anything else, but Boldy definitely did his thing over it. This shit is dope.

7. Slow Roll

This track has another really great instrumental. I love how dark it sounds. Boldy’s deep voice sounds perfect over it too. His flow is also really nice on this track.

Slidin’ with glocks in the armrest
Got some get-back, we ain’t duckin’ no wreck
Put that choppa to a nigga lips like some fuckin’ Carmex
Blow the Artex, DJ run it back like a fuckin’ hot track

The hook is so simplistic that it might as well be nonexistent, but I don’t have an issue with its presence here. The line in the second verse about stuffing a woman with a bunch of Xanax in a condom was fucked up. There’s this subtle beeping motif in the beat that made me keep pausing the track to see if someone in my vicinity’s phone was ringing, so that was kinda distracting, but it’s just a nitpick. Overall, I really fuck with this song, but I will say that the structure kinda left something to be desired. Maybe if the hook was more memorable I’d love this track more. This shit is still really good though. I think it’s dope.

8. SNORT featuring Freddie Gibbs

This beat is really nice, but I was hoping that the song with Freddie Gibbs would have another super hard, cold, evil sounding instrumental in the same vein as Giant Slide or Benny the Butcher’s Broken Bottles. The first verse from Boldy was really great; I loved that closing quatrain.

No, this ain’t Kweli; that was Hi-Tech in my juice I poured
On my mama stove with a Pyrex full of sushi roll
I hit it with them ice chips and ramen noodle bowls
It harden up and turn into a block, looked like the soup was cold

Freddie Gibbs killed that second verse too. His flow was really goddamn nice. I think one more verse would’ve pushed this song to the next level. It also could’ve used a hook, but I definitely fuck with it as it is. This shit is dope.

9. Grey October featuring Evidence

This song has one of my favorite beats on the album. It’s a super low-key, melodic, sad instrumental with no percussion. It’s a perfect fit for Evidence. I feel like Ka would be perfect for this beat too. The first verse from Boldy was great.

Mix the yola with the baking soda
My uncle said he hid them brickies in my baby stroller
These bitches so moody and shifty, tryna play me closer
I sold some blueys for the Griffey, caught a eight at Kroger’s

I have no clue what the fuck a bluey or Griffey is, but that shit sounded hard. Evidence’s verse was awesome. I think Boldy’s was a bit more enjoyable in terms of his flow and delivery, but I was more impressed by Evidence’s writing.

I don’t run away from danger, I’m better running towards it
All my words are just the letter, show the swords and I enforceth
Missing all players when I hit the streets but Evi’ didn’t forfeit
Rising from the scorched earth, I roll it up and torch it

This is definitely one of my favorite tracks on the album. It’s dope as hell.

10. Mustard

I think this is my second favorite track on the album. I was surprised by how much I ended up loving it because when I saw that it was just over 90 seconds I assumed it’d feel more like an interlude than anything, but nah. This shit is COLD as FUCK. The murky production is fucking incredible, and Boldy killed it. I love how fuckin’ evil he is on this track.

Now these niggas killers, they some late bloomers
Know they wish they caught up with me way sooner
Pussy ass nigga, you a fake shooter
Tryna figure out where I’ma take junior
When we snatch him up out his playpen
Take him outta school, walk him straight in
In exchange for that money in the safe bin

He sounds like a fuckin’ villain on this song, and I love it. This is the kinda shit you play to scare old white conservatives. I fucking love it. It’s dope as hell, and it transitions into the following track really nicely.

11. Speed Demon Freestyle

This is the first single from an upcoming album called The Price of Tea in China, and this shit is dope as hell. One thing that’s always been kinda funny to me about Boldy James is that he always sounds high as fuck, but not in a bad way. Some times when other artists have that quirk about them it just makes their music sound incredibly lethargic and boring, but Boldy James thankfully keeps my attention because he’s actually a skilled MC.

Snakes on the collar of my shirt, this polo so exclusive
Out in Vegas at the Mirage, shit ain’t no illusion
You know who winnin’, but of course we all know who losin’
Jump with them killers off the porch, we all know who rootin’
For the bad guy in a movie smokin’ on a Cuban

His flow is smooth as hell too. It’s even easier to tell that he’s high out of his mind if you actually watch the music video. He can barely keep his eyes open lmao. Anyway, the song is really dope, and I’m looking forward to the full album. I know Boldy James & The Alchemist released a collaborative EP last month that I unfortunately haven’t gotten around to checking out yet. I’ll have to hurry up and get on that.

12. Phone Bill

This track has another amazing beat. I think it’s one of the best instrumentals on the album. The content of the first verse isn’t that interesting to me personally since Boldy’s pretty much just reminiscing about a bunch of shit that happened to his friends coming up. If he went into more detail and kinda told a more vivid story instead of just listing a bunch of unfortunate events then I’d probably appreciate it more. I did enjoy the first verse to some extent though, and I like the hook a lot. The second verse is far more enjoyable to me though. Overall, the song isn’t amazing to me, and I think he probably could’ve closed the album in a more grandiose fashion, but I still really fuck with this track. It’s a dope song.

This album is pretty great. I’m satisfied. It’s actually one of the better albums that I’ve heard in 2020, and I think it’s easily Boldy James’ best work to date. The way people were raving about it had me thinking that it could’ve ended up being flat out amazing, and that suspicion was only bolstered after hearing the opening two songs. That didn’t end up being the case, but I will say that they came close, and this is certainly worth listening to. Boldy James still has that same monotone, one note delivery that he’s always had, but I think he’s stepped up his flow and writing. I think he really held his own over The Alchemist’s production. I also don’t think that any of the features completely smoked him, which is impressive. This is the most focused project he’s ever made, and I think a lot of it has to do with The Alchemist’s presence. This actually sounds like a legitimate body of work rather than a collection of songs. They all transition into each other really nicely. Some more detailed song structures and memorable hooks probably would’ve pushed this to the next level, but aside from that I don’t really have any consistent gripes. This shit is really great, and I think it’s a must listen project for Hip Hop fans in 2020. Don’t sleep on it.

Favorite Song: Giant Slide
Least Favorite Song: Run-Ins


Watch the video below for more thoughts on this album.

Grade: B+


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