Boldy James / Real Bad Man - Killing Nothing Music Album Reviews

Boldy James / Real Bad Man - Killing Nothing Music Album Reviews
The prolific Detroit rapper continues his dazzling run with yet another album of detail-rich, tightly-constructed street rap.

Call it what you will–rappity-rap, boom-bap, or “real” hip-hop–but it’s clear that back-to-basics street rap is enjoying something of a renaissance, thanks in large part to the ascension of Griselda Records. Of course, this style of music never really went away—rappers like Boldy James have been carrying the torch in the underground all the while. Now that he’s finally catching some limelight thanks to his association with Griselda, James is enjoying his own career renaissance; few rappers this decade can claim to have better balanced quality and quantity. The secret to his longevity seems to be his craftsman-like approach, one that prizes consistency and continuous refinement above all. On Killing Nothing, he continues to narrate stories of street life in the gruff, seen-it-all monotone that’s become his trademark. But James never runs out of clever, funny, and menacing new ways to weave these yarns about the drug trade—the strength of his writing and rapping prevents the music from ever feeling stale.

Like 2020’s Real Bad Boldy, Killing Nothing is produced entirely by the Los Angeles clothing and production collective Real Bad Man. While they might not have the profile of some of the producers James has worked with in recent years, they know the rapper’s tastes well. Across these 13 tracks, they do a convincing job of approximating the musically-omnivorous, sample-based beats that made living legends out of Madlib and frequent James collaborator the Alchemist. As usual, James doesn’t waste an inch of the canvas, packing each song with tightly-constructed bars. Given the pace at which he’s been working these last few years, it’s remarkable how focused Killing Nothing feels: there’s no fat to speak of across the record’s 43 minutes.

Take the opening track “Water Under the Bridge,” whose ringing piano keys recall DJ Premier’s “N.Y. State of Mind” beat. Less than a minute into the album, James is reminding you of how long he’s been in the streets and how far back his grudges go: “But back in grade school, you was running for student council/Now you a killer and a shooter but we doubt you.” As if to underline the point, he later raps, “hundred-fifty rounder, that’s a rumble pack,” nodding at anyone old enough to have once found a Nintendo 64 under their Christmas tree. This is a trick that James employs frequently: tacking on an eye-level reference to make even the wildest street tales feel accessible. This sort of thing might feel like pandering in the hands of a lesser rapper but every detail in these songs bears the texture of a real memory.

However, James isn’t always concerned with making his songs feel relatable. On “Cash Transactions,” he engages in a common boast over a dusty loop: “I’ll probably never love this rap shit more than these cash transactions/I got a passion for selling drugs.” He stretches out that last word—”druuugs”—and it sounds like he’s sneering at rappers who overstate their proximity to the streets. On “All the Way Out,” he skates over a rolling bassline, tossing out judgements (“None of your niggas killers, they just got attempts”) and compares his footwork during a gunfight to the “Hokey Pokey.” “Game Time” is genuinely gutting when, over a bed of steely synths, James admits, “Mama gave up on me early, damn near called it quits/Seemed like I never stood a chance until I caught a brick.”

In the ongoing barrage of Boldy James’ releases, Killing Nothing is likely to get overlooked: it lacks the prismatic production of Bo Jackson or the high-profile guests of The Price of Tea in China. And sure, even James die-hards might not be clamoring for more music at this point. That said, it’s hard to deny how good Killing Nothing is when taken on its own terms. The sheer variety of Real Bad Man’s production goes a long way toward keeping things fresh; James raps over a circular guitar arpeggio on “Sawyer,” a jangly afro-pop sample on “Killing Nothing,” and spaceship sounds on “Hundred Ninety Bands.” All the while he sounds like a guy who has learned how to rap so effortlessly, he doesn’t know how to stop.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Boldy James / Real Bad Man - Killing Nothing Music Album Reviews Boldy James / Real Bad Man - Killing Nothing Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on May 30, 2022 Rating: 5


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