The phrase “larger than life” comes to mind when thinking of the personality and actual size of the rapper from Flushing, Queens – Action Bronson.
When listening to Bronson, the sound is very familiar. His tone and delivery have been compared to GhostFace Killah on numerous occasions. Even Bronson’s articulation seems to pay ode to the legendary Staten Island MC.
Nevertheless, Bronson brings his own brand of outlandishness and personality to the table on “Mr. Wonderful” which is his first major label release.
Bronson teamed up with a nice team of producers made up with the likes of Party Supplies, Mark Ronson and The Alchemist. The album uses a lot of funk and even blues sampling and instrumentation – but the ultimate feel is uptempo.
The album opens with the Mark Ronson produced “Brand New Car” where Bronson’s charisma shines with lines like: “Trust you me, Gotham’s safer now / But there’s always a new Joker in town / Ready to smoke you with the pound / But when he shoots it, the flag says ‘bang’ and everybody laughs / He must be up and off the molly tab.” Action Bronson’s claim is to be something the rap game needs and wants but he won’t conform to any trends to help his cause.
On “Actin’ Crazy” Bronson makes a reference to kissing his mother on the cheek to reassure her that all of his crazy antics are how he’ll take care of things. It’s not a “dear mama” type of song though, it’s more about the “crazy.” Bronson’s flow and cadence become pretty predictable throughout “Mr. Wonderful.” So predictable in fact, that if he was a boxer, he wouldn’t land his jab after the second round. . .
“Falconry” sounds a little bit like “Liquid Swords” by the Gza but the problem with “Falconry” is that there is little genius behind it as Bronson proves with: “I was made like the beginning of Jurassic Park / When they took the f#ckin’ blood from the mosquito with a dope needle then they shot it in a wild lion, 1983 / I popped out holdin’ an iron with a visor on.” Okay. . .
The album thrives off of it’s production. Party Supplies have gained traction recently, but this is a production team that needs to gain more exposure. They supply the backdrop masterfully on the tracks “A Light In the Addict” and “Only In America.” “A Light in the Addict” is one of the few times Bronson is trying to address an introspective issue and even then he can’t wrap his one verse on the song in cohesive fashion.
He starts out saying “Starin’ out the window, with the mind of a schizo, thinking if I jump, will I feel it when I hit the ground” and somehow transitions into “Dog, what the f*ck is with your mother / She got one leg longer than the other / one eye through the shutter, made the transition from weed to butter like spring to summer.”
“Only In America” features Party Supplies on the hook, but the track is produced by Oh No. The beat has an old rock feel but Bronson’s verses are filled with more “filler” than anything else : “Barry Bonds, barracuda, Chattanooga / Back alley shooter, black balley booter / catch me jumpin’ out the plane like a black puma.”
Even the best song on the album is tainted with nonsense, but not to the fault of Bronson at least. . . “Baby Blue” is produced by Mark Ronson, who supplies a very soulful piano melody and Bronson does his best GhostFace imitation here talking about a relationship gone wrong. In this ballad of a man who is just sick of the girl he’s with and leaves her, even Bronson’s rough singing vocal, works well with the track.
The track goes completely in the wrong direction as soon as an appearance is made by Chance the Rapper who dishes out gems like these on his verse: “I hope you never get off Fridays / And you work at a Friday’s that’s always busy on Fridays.” Damnit Chance, you ruined it.
The jazzy bass line on “Galactic” works well, but the song itself lacks a hook and Bronson seems to just quit on the third verse. One can see the appeal of Bronson in his reckless “I can care less about what you think of me” attitude, but when does it come to a point where lyrics and artistry come into play? At times it’s all just too simplistic : “Black magic woman put a spell on me / F*ck around and win a spelling bee / I could walk under ladders, still won the lotto / Ten minutes flat, built a boat in a bottle.”
Jay -Z once accused lesser rappers of putting “words together, just to match,” and that’s what Bronson has seemingly made a career of. The style gets repetitive and boring while his “shock” value has very little entertainment value. In all honesty, the album would’ve been better suited as a collection of instrumentals.
Rating 4 out of 10