Bo Jackson

by Boldy James & The Alchemist

Released August 13, 2021 via ALC / Boldy James

Reviewed August 23, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Brickmile to Montana (48%), Fake Flowers (36%), Double Hockey Sticks (33%), Photographic Memories (33%)

Boldy James ponders what his life would be like if he never sold on Bo Jackson, while simultaneously adopting the title of “two-way sensation” that Bo assumed during his career. But instead of a baseball diamond and the gridiron, James is a champion both at the mic and on the corner. Boldy James is no stranger to the grit, having himself a year in 2020 that only a few could hold a candle to. But linking up with The Alchemist once again—who is a legend in his own right—proves that James is still climbing up the list of the best working in hip-hop currently. Bo Jackson is both among the best in James’ discography and the best hip-hop records of 2021. It manages to expand on his personal growth, while also sticking to what works instrumentally. The beats on this joint are sensational and undoubtedly up to par with The Alchemist’s immaculate track record. All of them unfold with Boldy at the reins, and neither the bars nor beats take center stage from one another. Stale is never a word that’s synonymous with an Uncle Al and Boldy collaboration, and their consistency and chemistry make this album a bonafide slugger. Somehow, we can debate and hypothesize where Bo Jackson would be if he could’ve stayed healthy, without denying his greatness. Boldy can wonder where he’d be if he never worked the corner, but the greatness in his pen is undeniable. – Ben (Synth) (9/10)

When one thinks about Boldy James and The Alchemist right now, the first thing that might come to mind is their individual 2020 runs. Both competed for most dominant rapper and producer of last year, respectively. Now as a duo, they have dropped a contender for album of the year in Bo Jackson. The Alchemist’s production is gorgeous, and the versatility/sampling skills he shows here is a clear improvement over any of his other recent collaborative projects. As longtime friends, he knows what beats to throw at Boldy, and Boldy shows that he knows how to knock it out of the park, by stepping up his lyrics up and showing off a whole arsenal of flows. Both performances on this album can be compared to Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl: Every track is an automatic touchdown – Alan (8.8/10)

Boldy James has put in the work, and similarly to several of the greatest rappers in history, was a legend in a different “game” before he became a legendary emcee. Jay-Z speaks of “Lyrical Exercise” in the bonus section of his 2001 magnum opus, The Blueprint. In it, Hov touts the “statistical categories” he’s leading in: best flow, most consistent, realest stories, among other measurements. Boldy James has subtly been very strong in these same categories for years now. As we know, the mind is a muscle, and the concept of lyrical exercise not only refers to the natural selection of talent, but the desire to practice and refine the skills as well. Spanning from My 1st Chemistry Set, his first Alchemist collab in 2013, to 2021’s Bo Jackson, he has put together a competitive discography that documents Boldy’s steady improvement with each passing release. Now, under the brightest lights he’s seen, Boldy has delivered yet again, proving an elite force in the sport of rapping. Not only is Bo Jackson showcasing a new benchmark for Boldy’s rap ability, but an exceptional display of chemistry between Boldy and The Alchemist as well. Alc’s reports of Boldy writing and rewriting entire verses to get them right show how they were patiently capturing lightning in a bottle, consistently and successively, across this album. As we well know, The Alchemist has put forth an album of the year candidate, year after year, and Bo Jackson is no exception. It will have to contend with Haram, Alc’s other exclusively produced 2021 album with rap duo Armand Hammer. – DeVán (8.8/10)

Boldy James and The Alchemist’s fourth collaborative effort is really where this duo has become special. Their last project was solid, but it was missing some chemistry between its duo. Bo Jackson funnels both of their best skills to create a gritty and atmospheric rap album that’s profound, hard hitting, and likely to leave you with a stank face more than once. Alc’s airy beats create the perfect groundwork for Boldy to spit on, with a new spark that sounds like they really connected in the studio this time around. The features are all fantastic, with the usual suspects such as Freddie Gibbs, fellow Griselda member Benny the Butcher, and Roc Marciano. Sharp bars, nasty beats, and fire flows, what more could you want? – Jared (8.5/10)


Ben (Synth): 9/10 | Pax: 9/10 | Alan: 8.8/10 | DeVán: 8.8/10 | Jared: 8.5/10

Dominick: 8.2/10 | Cam: 7.5/10 | Hadley: 7/10