Name it what you’ll–rappity-rap, boom-bap, or “actual” hip-hop–nevertheless it’s clear that back-to-basics road rap is having fun with one thing of a renaissance, thanks largely to the ascension of Griselda Data. In fact, this fashion of music by no means actually went away—rappers like Boldy James have been carrying the torch within the underground all of the whereas. Now that he’s lastly catching some limelight due to his affiliation with Griselda, James is having fun with his personal profession renaissance; few rappers this decade can declare to have higher balanced high quality and amount. The key to his longevity appears to be his craftsman-like method, one which prizes consistency and steady refinement above all. On Killing Nothing, he continues to relate tales of road life within the gruff, seen-it-all monotone that’s grow to be his trademark. However James by no means runs out of intelligent, humorous, and menacing new methods to weave these yarns in regards to the drug commerce—the energy of his writing and rapping prevents the music from ever feeling stale.
Like 2020’s Actual Dangerous Boldy, Killing Nothing is produced completely by the Los Angeles clothes and manufacturing collective Actual Dangerous Man. Whereas they may not have the profile of a number of the producers James has labored with in recent times, they know the rapper’s tastes effectively. Throughout these 13 tracks, they do a convincing job of approximating the musically-omnivorous, sample-based beats that made dwelling legends out of Madlib and frequent James collaborator the Alchemist. As common, James doesn’t waste an inch of the canvas, packing every track with tightly-constructed bars. Given the tempo at which he’s been working these previous few years, it’s outstanding how targeted Killing Nothing feels: there’s no fats to talk of throughout the document’s 43 minutes.
Take the opening observe “Water Underneath the Bridge,” whose ringing piano keys recall DJ Premier’s “N.Y. State of Thoughts” beat. Lower than a minute into the album, James is reminding you of how lengthy he’s been within the streets and the way far again his grudges go: “However again in grade college, you was working for pupil council/Now you a killer and a shooter however we doubt you.” As if to underline the purpose, he later raps, “hundred-fifty rounder, that’s a rumble pack,” nodding at anybody sufficiently old to have as soon as discovered a Nintendo 64 underneath their Christmas tree. It is a trick that James employs continuously: tacking on an eye-level reference to make even the wildest road tales really feel accessible. This type of factor may really feel like pandering within the palms of a lesser rapper however each element in these songs bears the feel of an actual reminiscence.