“It’s a f****ng lifestyle n*****s – pay attention.” – This along with the artwork for Boldy James’ Jammin’ 30: In The Morning is probably all you need to get the idea of what it’s all about.
I tried to like this, I really did, but there’s only so much good you can look for within a collection of songs.
My initial first impressions were that this mixtape was going to be all about women, drugs and violence and/or crime, but when reviewing content, it’s important to keep an open mind and give the artist’s work a chance to speak for itself. That and the fact that this mixtape is hosted by DJ Whoo Kid, DJ Ray Ya Dig and DJBJ 3525, I was expecting there to be at least some solid elements to the collection of tracks.
When the first couple of songs played I wasn’t impressed. These couple of tracks brought in some pretty average beats and simple phrasing of rhymes. It’s important to point out that just because every line rhymes with the last, that doesn’t make it a solid vocal track, which is all that seemed to be going on.
By the middle of the second track I was sick of hearing “Boldy James, Jammin’ 30: In The Morning” as I was well aware of what I was listening to and it was nothing else but annoying. I know the artist, I know the name of the mixtape, I know who was involved, and if I didn’t I was already told in the first track. This is a problem that ran throughout all 17 songs on the mixtape, every couple of tracks I’d have to get reminded by the same shout out announcing that I was listening to “Boldy Jaaaaaaaaames”.
Aside from the constant reminder of what I was listening to, I paid close attention to a lot of the lyrics. Unsurprisingly most consisted of making and selling drugs, as well as having sex with various women and distinctly explaining how they were going to go about doing it. In addition to the not-so-varied content about sex and drugs, the mixtape of course had to list numerous ways that the artists were going to engage in violence and how they had 50 Calibres etc. Although, the sound of weapons being loaded and cocked was actually a refreshing change from hearing about it over and over again – something I never thought I would have been happy to hear.
Don’t get me wrong, I get it. Boldy James and the other artists involved clearly have been around and/or want to represent how much violence they’re around and what their lifestyles are. It’s not exactly different to anything that we haven’t heard from these genres (as well as many others) before. Here in the UK even, we have some pretty brutal grime and rap about exactly the same things going on in our cities and on our council estates, poverty-stricken areas and within our gang culture. It’s a norm in many places and it’s a norm that has spawned a huge number of subcultures that revolve around this kind of content, and that’s perfectly understandable.
What my problem is with here, is that it just isn’t done well. If you’re going to go on about how much money you’ve got, or how much you’re going to mess someone up and control the places you reside in, then at least do it well. Come up with some good phrasing for your lyrics, perhaps some more graphic or in-depth lyrics and yeah, it wouldn’t hurt to tell some stories through the tracks, rather than just repeating the same few things in different ways.
Not to mention, it’s clear that there’s a lot of producers involved and a lot of different artists coming to collaborate on these tracks, and so there’s not really any excuse for why there’s such a lack of quality production. The lack of quality production I’m referring to, is the lack in variation on the backing tracks and sound effects. It was refreshing to hear the odd loop of backing vocals or some synthesisers going on in the mix, but it just wasn’t enough.
There’s nothing wrong with representing your lifestyles or the situations you know about, but I think that Boldy James really could bring more to the table than he shows in this mixtape. Rather than having a 17 track mixtape that’s repetitive and uncreative, why not just have 10 quality tracks, or even 7. Tracks that the listener straight away can distinguish one from the next, and tracks that are really well-written lyrically rather than just telling the listener the same stuff over almost the same sounds for the entire time. For someone who cites influences like Biggie, Jay-Z & Nas, it would be great to start seeing some of those musical influences within James’ vocals and track production.
You can find out more about Boldy James, including where to find a free download of this mixtape by visiting his:
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