Boldy James has been writing verses and voicing them for a long time. But he did not emerge onto the rap scene until last year when his Trapper’s Alley: Pros And Cons mixtape dropped online and was met with praise for its dark, frank realness. His latest, Consignment: Favor For A Favor, The Redi-Rock Mixtape, released at the end of February, features the same Boldy aesthetic as Trapper’s Alley but with a continuation toward finding new beats and further sharing his experiences about the streets of Detroit.
I caught up with Boldy via phone, and we talked about his latest project—an Alchemist-produced Decon Records album—what parenthood means to him and his music, and why he doesn’t glamorize street life.
You’ve been rapping since you were a kid, and you did a lot of shows back then. Are shows still a big part of your artistry?
Yeah they are, but I haven’t been doing many shows lately. Just focusing on this project I have coming up with Alchemist. It is pretty much about street life in Detroit and keeping with my people. It is also about my travels and my life as a Detroitan.
You rap a lot about the dangers, rather than any glamour, of the lifestyle you’ve led in the streets. What do you want to accomplish with this?
I am just trying to scare the young straight about the trials and tribulations that come as part of the lifestyle. As long as, with your music, you aren’t trying to add to the problem, I think it’s best to let them hear the truth from someone who has experienced it and knows the hardships, not from someone who just tries to share fake experiences through the airwaves and through noise.
In your music you expose a lot of yourself and the world around you. Are you ever afraid that you are sharing too much of who you are?
Not really, because I really like being modest. I am not really trying to share all of it, just half the truth. I can’t talk about everything I do because it could get me in trouble, so I keep many parts of my life to myself. I keep parts of myself secret.
How has your style and your music evolved from Trapper’s Alley to Consignment?
I guess I can’t really say how much I have changed, as I haven’t analyzed it, but I try to stay busy. The streets tell me what to do—I am just the messenger. My sound is reflected by the streets and what I see and hear.
You are the father of six kids. How do they impact your music?
They are my everything: my motivation, my drive. I don’t know what I would do without them. They tell you they love you and are sincere about it, and they aren’t faking it, and they make you feel good. If you don’t have kids, you don’t understand. Everything I do I do for them, and they are my biggest inspiration. You can actually hear one of them right now in the background, my smallest one.
You’ve said in the past that you make music for yourself. Do you feel like you’re still adhering to that idea, or are there more outside influences to consider as you gain a bigger following?
I will always make music for myself, and if people don’t like it, I don’t care. A lot of people can’t understand what I go through on a day-to-day level, so I just focus on what I do. I just stay working—that’s the key, to never stop working.
Boldy James plays the Mass Appeal showcase at the Gramercy Theater on Friday, October 19, and the AllHipHop showcase at Drom on Saturday, October 20.