Review Summary: Heart on froze.
When I call Boldy James a street poet, I don't mean it in any abstract way. Plenty of rappers bank on authenticity above everything else, gambling that the perceived truth of their tales will make up for any weaknesses in their musicality or rap ability. I have, admittedly, been critical of Boldy for this failing before - the dude is talented enough to make a 20-minute album of solid rap in his sleep, which I'm pretty sure is how The Versace Tape
and Mr. Ten08
actually came about. It's not the best way to work though, leading to repetitive flows and uninspiring delivery from a rapper who's proved himself to be one of the best in his class when he puts in the extra work.
It seems to be written in the stars that Boldy James becomes something truly incredible when he's pushed outside his comfort zone. After proving his consistency and reliability with a few back-to-back projects with The Alchemist, the rapper dived into the deep waters and came back out with a diamond by the name of Manger On McNichols
. This near-masterpiece found the rapper baring his darkest thoughts over artful production that pulled from free jazz, electronic and trip-hop. While not quite in the same tier, Indiana Jones
calls back to some of that project's better moments with downbeat production and dreamy hooks that make the rapper's tried-and-true tales feel less like stories that we've all heard before and more like lost transmissions from a forgotten civilisation. Ignore the horrendous AI eyesore on the cover and uninspiring title: Indiana Jones
is beautiful, sublimely sad, and in its very best moments, honestly magic.
The electric guitar chugging along beneath the propulsive beat on "Electric Blue" would make Liquid Swords
-era RZA nod his head in approval, while "Dead Game" finds Boldy getting vulnerable in a way that punctures his hard-as-nails image in a very moving way. It's the one-two punch of "Never Had A Friend" and "Frozen" that really sets the album apart: the duo sound like they were composed on a lonesome walk through thick fog, all bleary-eyed vocal delivery and faraway beats combining for genuinely heartbreaking effect. Few rappers make world-weariness sound as disturbingly enticing as Boldy James - it's like that little rush of excitement mixed with danger you got, say, listening to Earl Sweatshirt for the first time and hearing "step into the shadows, we can talk addiction", but from someone who's been around twice as long and seen everything there is to see. If you're so inclined, twist your dial to that ghost radio station and pick up Indiana Jones
' signal, but you might just leave a little colder than when you came in.