Sometimes it can feel like artists move through the world in their own bubble, orbiting around each other but never touching, especially in hip-hop when biting and copying is a cardinal sin. But the truth is, music isn’t made in a vacuum. Everything is a re-arrangement and remix of what’s come before, and the best artists know how to draw on a world of influences and experiences and mold them into their own sound. That’s why we’ve started Real Recognize Real, a new interview series dedicated to talking to artists about the real music and people that inspire them.
There aren't many who have been repping Detroit more fully and honestly than Boldy James, and his commitment to spitting ony that raw has earned him a deal with Nas' Mass Appeal Records. With his collaborative album with Alchemist, "My First Chemistry Set," still on heavy rotation and his upcoming album "Trappers Alley 2" on the way, we talked to Boldy about EPMD's influence, mentoring his sister in the rap game and much more.
Who is the first artist or group that you remember hearing, which motivated you to pursue a career in music?
EPMD and their album "Strictly Business."
Why? What about their music was attractive?
They were just so dope to me -- the way their image was portrayed. They were "swagged out." I don't really fuck with that word, but that is a fair word to say. They had dope flows over dope beats.
What was the last full-length album you listened to... from start to finish, uninterrupted?
Kendrick Lamar, "Good Kid, M.A.A.D City".
For you, what makes for a complete listening experience?
The who, what, where, when and why have to all be tied together for me.
Name a fellow new school artist whose music you're currently listening to and would recommend to others.
I've been listening to my little sister, Mafia Double D. Her new album is about one of her best friends, who was murdered over drug money. The album is a dedication to him.
Why did you choose your sister? What is it about her music that is attractive?
I've been listening to it because my sister just started taking her music seriously. She loves making music so much that she now knows how to make good music. Watching her big brother, me, do his thang, seeing how passionate and serious I was, [helped] her.
Fill in the blank: I would lose my sh*t if I found out that _______ would like to collaborate with me on a record.
Name an occupation outside of the recording industry that you respect and think would be fulfilling in the absence of musical creativity.
Hmmm, that's a good one. Point guard for the Pistons. I would have been like a young Chauncey Billups in '04. Me and Rip [Hamilton].
What do you have coming up in the next few months, which you'd like your fans and our readers to be up on?
I got the Mass Appeal compilation with Nas, Mac Miller, Fashawn, Pusha T, Young Thug, Freddie Gibbs and the list goes on. That's out later on this September. Then I'm working on "Trappers Alley 2," which will be out in October.
[Nathan S. is the managing editor of The DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. He also occasionally talks in podcast form and appears on RevoltTV. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.]