Boldy James & Conductor Williams’ ‘Across the Tracks’: All 10 Tracks Ranked (2024)

The Detroit rapper and Kansas City producer make the midwest proud with this project.

Boldy James & Conductor Williams’ ‘Across the Tracks’: All 10 Tracks Ranked (1)

Over the weekend, Boldy James dropped his second stellar project of the year. Produced entirely by Griselda affiliate Conductor Williams, Across the Tracks is a perfect pack of 10 tracks. Both rapper and producer are in peak form with Boldy rapping at a very high level and Williams conducting drum machines as if his name was Lydia Tár or Carlos Kleiber. The duo have been rolling this album out over the past few weeks, with “Terms and Conditions” (the album’s intro) and “Off-White Lumberjack” serving as the first two singles. Both songs gave listeners a good idea of what to expect from the full-length.

Across the Tracks only has two features: Mafia Double Dee and Bo Jack. The former is Boldy’s sister and the latter is his teenage son. Yes, you read that right. Bo Jack makes an impressive standout appearance on “All Madden,” giving the impression that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Boldy’s ear for beats is an underrated talent of his, and Conductor does a great job making sure the production accentuates the Detroit rapper’s signature monotone flow. There’s nothing better than listening to Boldy wax poetic about his days as a drug dealer over soulful production. It gets even better when you hear Williams’ signature tag, “Conductor, we have a problem!” as a track starts to play.

This collab tape has been overdue, and we’re lucky to get to the opportunity to witness two masters work together at a high level. Across the Tracks is just the latest in a string of great projects from both artists. Boldy’s first album of the year, Penalty of Leadership (fully produced by Nicholas Craven), made some mid-year best albums lists and Conductor ended last year with a Drake credit and started this one with a J. Cole placement.

Be sure to check this tape out, and give a look at our track-by-track breakdown and rankings below to see if you agree.

  • "St. Juliana"

    Boldy and Conductor tone things down a bit here, as the Detroit MC looks back on his journey from trapper to rapper. He spits, “Conductor, all of the sales I conducted/ Now I’m hoppin’ out a UFO, look like I’ve been abducted/ If we should fall, one of us should be each other’s crutches/ Ain’t no more runnin’ from police, obstructing the justice/ Flock in 1017s like I’m Wooh da Kid/ Now that Rolls parked at the trap just to shoot a vid’.” Boldy references Jay-Z lyrics a lot in his raps, maybe Jigga should really consider doing a track with him. We’d get a lot of game in a song by those two.

  • "Stamps in the Middle"

    This outro sounds triumphant — as if Boldy and Conductor are taking a victory lap. But James still takes time to reflect.

    This cluster of bars stood out to me as he makes yet another Jay-Z reference: “It’s the allure of the game infected with the evil/ Had to reroute the paper, never had a paper route/ Changin’ out in the county, was never chasin’ clout/ Yeah, I sold drugs but that ain’t s–t to be ashamed about/ I madе it out unscathed, Blocks so high that you could sunbathe/ Neighborhood full of dеad ends and one ways/ Made man, ain’t no more hustlin’ on Sundays.”

    He ends his verse with, “I had to fall back, watch everything fall in place/Countin’ all this paper, if I get snatched, I know she ain’t gon’ wait” and Conductor throws in a sample from Wild Style because the art of rhyming is a pillar of hip-hop, after all.

  • "Permission" (feat. Mafia Double Dee)

    This track is another family affair. Mafia Double Dee is Boldy’s sister, and she’s been featured on his songs before. Her verse on Rome Streetz’s “Stunna” is my favorite verse of hers, so far. “I’m talking Game Time/Like Stephen A. and Skip, we ain’t on the same time” and “hit his lil’ b—h, got him lookin’ like his puppy died/ My pockets C-walkin’, peace to the blood shuffle/ Known for breakin’ up couples, all the bad b—hes love Double” are some of the standout lines from her on this joint. Bars aside, Dee and Boldy have so much chemistry on songs.

  • "All Madden" (feat. Bo Jack)

    Boldy and Conductor smooth things out a little bit with this track, as James reminisces about doing some jail time. “Playin’ chess on the unit, me and old-school/ Got out, ain’t have s–t to my name but my legal fee/ I think about that s–t every blue moon just to keep me free,” he recalls. The second verse is handled by Boldy’s son Bo Jack — and, to no one’s surprise, the kid goes in. “Everything on my body cost a real bag (For real)/ When I see you in the field, you better have your pads (I ain’t playin’,)” he raps confidently.

  • "Undisputed"

    I like how Boldy refuses to let this beat breathe at all. He gets right into it, as if he’s still in the same zone he was in on the previous song, “The Ol Switcharoo.” While that track has a more subdued sound, the production on “Undisputed” is more deliberately frantic. It feels like a mixtape track in a good way, almost like Nas’ “Blaze a 50.” That song floated around mixtapes before finding a home on Lost Tapes.

  • "Off-White Lumberjack"

    Virgil would be proud of Boldy naming a song after one his products. In a profile with the Detroit Metro Times, the Detroit rapper revealed the fashion designer wanted to remix Nike Bo Jackson crosstrainers for Boldy before he passed. I’m sure Virgil was a fan, because of lines like, “To be or not to be, crime school, and I majored in philosophy/Band proctor with drums, got a doctors in criminology” and “Made a mountain out a molehill, I’m the real the MacGyver/ Turn your block into roadkill, ambitions as a grinder/ Hook, line, sinker, trap his keeper like a bookbinder.” Each bar, coupled with Conductor’s production, makes this track perfect for rippin’ and runnin’. The beat sounds like a muscle car’s tires hitting the hot pavement during a getaway. Boldy could write a Tarantino flick.

  • "Flying Trapeze Act"

    These guys are good. There are days like today when I consider Boldy James to be one of the best rappers alive.

    The hook says it all: “Tight-roping in the streets, this s–t is death-defying/ When your mans the witness in your case testifying/ Whipped my last 90 circles with a wire hanger/ Jumpin’ through them fire hurdles like a lion tamer/ Feel like a Green Bay fan for them greenbacks/ I put that cheddie on your head like a cheese hat/ Two and a hottie, finna slid the machine back/ My youngin’ catchin’ bodies like a flying trapeze act.”

  • "Terms and Conditions"

    Boldy gets right to it here. There’s so many bars on here that make you jump out of your skin. When he spits, “Was taught to always be the message I bring/ Pulled the sword from the stone, some n—as’ll never be king,” it gave me visions of the Disney classic The Sword in the Stone. Then he gives us an AZ reference and pulls the competition’s street cards, rapping, “Could nеver compete, thеy know the flow is rather unique/I kept the receipts, most of these n—s never was street.”

    He then ends the first verse with these beautiful bars: “Stormin’ on the dice, full force, I’m like a tidal wave/Owe my auntie Adrien for me shortin’ out her microwave/227-50-Z, n—s know we thick as thieves/Real street n—s, never ratted, never bit the cheese.” Boldy makes it all sound so easy, and it comes across even more effortless when he’s rapping over a soulful beat like the one Conductor cooked up here. When you dream up a Boldy James and Conductor Williams tape, this is the sound you’re expecting.

  • "Lamp Shade"

    This is one of my favorite beats on the whole tape. I think it’s the star of the show. I can’t make out the sample, but the loop and horn sound like you’re listening to this on cassette in a yellow Sony Walkman. Boldy drops jewels in a way only he can, with wisdom and boldness. You can hear it when he asks the question, “Why would I take $500K over dinner with Hov?/If I could pay Jay a half mil’ to sit with Emory Jones.” Emory is a close friend of Jay-Z’s, who famously put a 16-year bid in prison on his back and, in exchange, was rewarded with top-level position within Jay’s ranks as soon as he came home.

    Boldy then ends the second verse with this vivid imagery: “This game cold but I still get that chill in my bones/ ‘Fore I could check out my room and book my ticket home/ I left another half a mil’ stashed in the memory foam/ A different type of bully print, don’t compare me to dog/ They say his jewels VVS but his character flawed.”

    As Boldy tends to ask, what else?

  • "The Ol Switcharoo"

    This is the song that made me perk up when I first gave this tape a spin. Conductor’s beat takes you to a world of mystery while Boldy gives us another exercise in elite wordplay. He raps like Michael Corleone if his favorite album was Reasonable Doubt. “Paint his frame, I’m a real artist/ All my life I been a drill sergeant/Trying to oversaturate the pill market,” is the stuff of beautiful villainy. There are too many lines on this one to point out, but just know Boldy has an out of body experience during the second half of this barfest. These no-hook songs from Boldy are usually some of his best. Put “The Ol Switcharoo” next to songs like “Speed Demon Freestyle” and “First 48 Freestyle.”

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Boldy James & Conductor Williams’ ‘Across the Tracks’: All 10 Tracks Ranked (2024)

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