My 1st Chemistry Set
Decon / Mass Appeal
Lyrics are my favorite part of songs, bar none. Any artist, any album, any genre, my heart will be won with lyrics. If the album is stellar musically and well produced to boot, well, pending the loosening of some laws, I’ll want to marry it. I want to marry Detroit rapper Boldy James’ My 1st Chemistry Set, dropped October 15, 2013. The 13 track collaborative effort with LA’s The Alchemist is that solid. The thing about My 1st Chemistry Set is that it’s so lyrically intricate, I’m not sure you’re smart enough to listen to it. I’m not sure I’m smart enough to listen to it either, but I’m sure glad I did.
Boldy goes bold from the outset with the album’s opener, “BOLD.” It’s here where you see immediately that Boldy is not capable of being chintzy with words; every thought is taken to its logical conclusion with such thoroughness of prose that listeners leave each verse immensely satisfied. Case in point – “My trigger finger is itchy scratchy / Right, my middle finger it grip that maggy / Tight, my ring fingers embrace my gun / Yikes, and my pinky fingers anchor my thumbs / Strike, the thumb on my other hand click the hammer / Yup, my left index is ambidextrous / Left fuck you finger the reason I squeeze / Put them gloves on, I’ll teach you the meaning of Bold” – many rappers would have stopped after one of those lines, max two. Boldy sacrifices the easy thought for the complete thought; there is nothing lazy about this man’s rhymes.
“Consideration” makes it abundantly clear the subject matter Boldy deals with is dealing (“I got 99 problems, and a brick ain’t one.”). Despite this fact, whether or not you have any personal experience in the matter, the narrative is so rich, you’re right there.
There’s thusly some comedy, then, when you hear, “Trying to stay clean is very important,” repeated on “Moochie.” This aside, the real meat here is how Boldy steps through his complex system of nicknames for everything, justifying four or five listens to catch it all.
Action Bronson is recognizable on “Traction.” A steady clap and some big synth instrumentation shift attention from the verbal to the musical, a tide that continues to roll in on “You Know“ and the percussive “Surprise Party,” featuring King Chip & Freeway.
“Rappies,” featuring Peechie Green & Mafia Double Dee is gritty and trippy all at once. “Give Me a Reason,” featuring Vince Staples shows a clear blues guitar influence. Mix that with a spaceship and some drug slinging melancholy, and you’ve got “400 Thousand.”
Look for an outstanding cast of characters on “Reform School,” featuring Earl Sweatshirt, Da$h & Domo Genesis, lending some diversity to the album’s tail end. Boldy leaves us with “KY Jellybeans” to close it up, a steady, unassuming farewell that will send you right back to the beginning to do it all over again.
If you read any interview with Boldy James, you’ll learn he didn’t pay school much mind because he was smart as shit. He’d gathered most of what he needed to know by the 7th grade. Mostly when people tell you that sort of story, they’re full of shit. Boldy’s confidence is warranted, though, and his swagger doesn’t seem to come at the expense of others. It’s not really even swagger; he tells it matter of fact, and backs up any assertions he makes about himself with his work on My 1st Chemistry Set.