Release Date: Mar 24, 2015
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Rap, Underground Rap, East Coast Rap
Benefiting from mixtapes like rock bands used to benefit from pre-debut tours, chef turned rapper Action Bronson is wonderfully loose and comfortable on his first full-length, the audaciously and aptly titled Mr. Wonderful. Album opener "Brand New Car" forgoes the usual bombastic intro for a cheeky, goofy track, one that stops and starts at will while offering "That girl on top of me: pornography/She only want me for my guapery" in a voice that's gruff and powerful, like Ghostface meets Chris Farley.
Action Bronson has grown into the character he drew up for himself. In 2011, shortly after the release of his first album, I saw him walking around a festival in Brooklyn, conspicuous but mostly unrecognized, a tiny blunt tucked behind his ear. Last year, at a concert in Philadelphia that was like many of his recent shows, he marched around a packed venue during his set and sang Billy Joel songs with fans.
I’ve always gravitated toward rappers whose personality outweighs their lyrical precision. That’s not to say I like goofy rappers who can barely string a sentence together, but I’d take Young Thug over Jay Electronica any day, because for me, hip-hop is about the feeling you get from it. I appreciate both sides of the coin, but for an art form that has so much creative wiggle room (you can introspectively reflect on racism or you can wax about how much you love the coco), I’m always drawn to the song I can nod my head along to and laugh at the audacity of whoever is rapping at me.
Action Bronson was born to be a rapper. He’s got it all: confident vocal delivery, a loose flow that pulls back on the funk of his beats, and half-serious lyrics that still hit hard. His timbre is distinctive, raspy, and brash, like a somehow more laid-back Ghostface Killah. His latest record, Mr ….
Action Bronson has been around since 2011. The former gourmet New York City chef decided to leave the kitchen alone after breaking his leg on the job to focus solely on his rap career. First he released Dr. Lecter, an album filled with his calling cards—food, money, women, sports, and weed. The ….
Welcome to the world of Action Bronson, a kaleidoscopic mix of genre-bending and brave mutations. The Queens rapper's long-awaited major label debut album, Mr. Wonderful, is still informed by the fantastic imagery and comedic charm that Bam Bam is acclaimed for, but it also shifts his emphasis slightly; here, Bronson is framed as a more serious artist focused on experimentation.Since the days of Rare Chandeliers and the Blue Chips series, Bronson has showcased his gift for sonically teleporting listeners to his hometown of Queens, making it seem as though they're seated them around his hazy studio as he records his charismatic numbers.
Queens rapper Action Bronson has quickly become a cult figure who transcends hip hop. His food-inspired web series, Fuck, That’s Delicious, is solid gold and does a fine job of illustrating how food is still at the crux of the former chef’s life. Bronson’s rap career came to prominence with a slew of polished mixtapes that boasted the balance between production and rapping that complemented each other through and through.
In rap music, the album has become a hurdle. You can count on one hand the rappers who can accomplish the following two feats: getting a label to release an album, and having that album be good enough that fans aren’t imagining the ways in which it could have been more like the artist’s previous—usually more unfettered and pure—work. In the increasingly fraught journey from underground to mainstream, no time is more uncertain than when mixtapes and EPs must finally become an album.
Action Bronson is so New York that four years into a successful rap career, he still imagines luxury as a subway ride through Queens. "Tell the pilot land the plane/on Roosevelt and Main/Put a jacuzzi on the 7 train and lay," he commands on "Easy Rider." These sort of tight, referential bars have earned Bronson plenty of Ghostface Killah comparisons, but Bronson's major-label debut has a film-noir cool all his own — he's the hardboiled AMC drama to the Wu MC's exploitation flick. This self-described "hunk of beef" might not solve any crimes, but he sure takes pleasure in making fun of those committed by others.
Mr. Wonderful is the title of an obscure 1968 Fleetwood Mac album featuring a shirtless, lanky individual on the cover. Nearly 50 years later, Action Bronson appears on the scene as the well-over 300 pound antithesis. The origins of the former chef-turned-rap-phenomenon are well-documented in the canals of viral myth via unintentionally hilarious interviews and painfully truthful autobiographical raps, but finally Bronson is functioning within a space more suited to his confident disposition—all eyes on him.
Twin ShadowEclipse Poptimism’s dark side rears its head on Twin Shadow’s third LP Eclipse. After deriding his own music as “too elitist,” George Lewis, Jr. switches out guitars for…not guitars, and stakes pretty much everything on an album of enormous, heart-on-sleeve arena ballads that should validate an oft-mocked pop form but too often invites that same mocking.
Action Bronson's first major-label release comes after two well-received albums, two EPs and three mixtapes that cumulatively have established him as a singular personality, separating him from the Ghostface Killah comparisons that plagued his early career. He spends the first part of Mr. Wonderful in his wheelhouse, swiftly stacking lyrics packed with dense internal rhyme schemes.