Boldy James & Nicholas Craven “Penalty of Leadership” Album Review

Penalty of Leadership

Boldy James and Nicholas Craven are kicking off 2024 with their joint new album, “Penalty of Leadership.” The project ended up being released today, Friday, January 12, after several teases and a handful of songs.

However, a significant narrative component of “Penalty of Leadership” appears to be the Detroit MC’s vehicle crash in early 2023, which appears to be addressed throughout the album’s recording, promotional artwork, and lyrical content.

Album Cover Art

Boldy James &Amp; Nicholas Craven &Quot;Penalty Of Leadership&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, April 15, 2024

An animated version of an injured Boldy is seen being strapped to a stretcher in a scene that seems fresh judging from the caution tape barricades. We can also see him watch his life flash before his eyes, as indicated by the various blurry black-and-white scenes being projected by his watch.

This is also a distinct way of reflecting on the vehicle accident that nearly resulted in the rapper’s demise. The Detroit rapper was critically injured in a car accident in his hometown on January 9 of last year. James sustained fractures to his neck and back in the two-vehicle incident, necessitating neck surgery and placing him in critical care.

Tracks and Features

The formidable duo of Boldy James and Nicholas Craven set the ball rolling by offering listeners a “Formal Invite” into the project. In the song, James praises himself and takes pride in his struggles and accomplishments, which, of course, came with the soft life. While he lives it up, he doesn’t forget his homies doing time. The interesting hip-hop beat and Boldy’s calm, Larry June-type flow add quite the color to the song.

“Jack Frost” takes the stage next, and Boldy does what he knows best, spitting some cool bars over another great production from Craven. The rapper tries to touch on a number of topics all at once and within a short timeframe, making his lyrics a bit uncohesive. However, he does a good job discussing street life experiences, which include dangerous dealings with the homies and sexpacades with the honeys.

James gets a little vulnerable in “Evil Genius,” where he gets real and raps about the downsides of the street life and friends lost to the dangerous doings of the streets. He takes a swipe at the po-po and also laments being underrated even when he’s as talented as he is. Though he might be a street dude, Boldy maintains he’s “clean-cut.” Beautiful production too.

In “Murderous Tendencies,” he sings about the loss of a dear friend and a whole lot of other close pals who he said can’t be fit into a picture collage. The sadness in his lyrics are also expressed in his delivery, accompanied by a superb production suited for the moving performance.

“No Pun Intended” is an ode to how far Boldy has come in the game and in life. He also puts his city on the map while bragging unapologetically about being a Detroit native and how he came up slinging that dope. Again, he raps about missing his guys, those dead and those behind bars.

The celebration of personal accomplishments continues in “Brand New Chanel Kicks,” where he does a little before and after comparison of his life. He even talks about breaking out of rehab and recuperating from an accident that had him paralyzed. Craven, on his part, understood the mood and came with a befitting beat.

Double Dee joins Boldy and Nicholas in “Early Worms Get Birds.” The theme is still street doings and slick talk. Dee’s vocals and lines, however, are the real icing on the cake. If Kodak Black rapped without slurring his words, you may not be able to differentiate his voice from Double Dee’s. That’s how similar their vocals sound. Amazing sampling in the production.

Standing on business, James is stacking up his coins in “All My Tokens.” While he brags about being deep in his bag, he gives special credit to his children for being his anchor, for holding him back from crashing. Craven outdoes himself once again, almost stealing the show with those infectious lead guitar chords.


# Title Duration
1 Formal Invite 3:06
2 Jack Frost 3:06
3 Evil Genius 3:02
4 Murderous Tendencies 3:30
5 No Pun Intended 3:15
6 Brand New Chanel Kicks 3:51
7 Straight As 2:53
8 Soccer Mom 3:15
9 Early Worms Get Birds 3:03
10 Speedy Recovery 3:17
11 All My Tokens 4:16

Album Theme

Reflecting on a second shot at life, survivor’s guilt, and self-aggrandizing encouragement.

Production Credits

Nicholas Craven produced the album singlehandedly.


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