While it has a similar skeletal structure to other records from Griselda, Boldy James is not so much electrifying as he is charismatic. His vocals that begin to pour in after the “Pony Down Intro” are monotoned, acting like a grey ghost in essence to the narration. As the track “Maria” peels back with warm horns and somber percussion, there simply isn’t a single hi-hat on the entire record. The Versace Tape manages to paint the golden images of classiness through abstract production that ultimately, avoids the techniques that complicate the mix.
Having no cymbal to keep the time or a constant metronome allows Boldy James to reveal in the fact of freeform vocals and obtuse instrumentation. As explained on “Maria,” Boldy James orchestrates like a herald, “Weigh the coke, beat the pot, scrape the bowl, bleed the block. Eight below, steamin’ hot, eighty-four G’s a top… Gave ‘em TPOT In China, now we shinin’ in Kosovo. Met Hov at Club Novo, man this shit on the floor.” While his rhyme scheme is less about the end rhyme and more about packing these metaphors and similes into his sound, The Versace Tape has Boldy James as an art figure over rapper.
It is true however that when featured over more lively instrumentation, Boldy James is a commander that can shift the spotlight to become trumpeting markets for him. Backing out the gleaming Rolls Royce from the garage, Boldy James takes the expressway on “Long Live Julio.” The vocal samples that can coincide within the Avant-Garde horn samples allow a garden of grand band sound.
While Boldy James is a rugged vocal delivery, this is one of his most approachable and diverse sounds to come out of The Versace Tape. His words that flow over the ensemble is less about violence, and more about conquering an audience. He describes, “Used to have fear of flight, scrubbin’ my toothbrush on a pair of Nikes. The strap with my shank for niggas scared to fight who love to carry knives. They always warned me what came with the murder game, and rest assured me that it carry life.” He continues, “Look like a tomato in my cup, mixed with Cherry Sprite. Somethin’ like Fredo in the cut, that’s a scary sight.”
In quite possibly one of the strongest records to drop a saga after, The Versace Tape is a quick but worthy successor of The Price Of Tea In China. Under the Griselda Records label and the backing or features of Westside Gunn, El Camino, Tiona Deniece, and Keisha Plum, almost every eye has a reason to turn to Boldy James.