Release Date: Jun 11, 2013
Record label: Atlantic
After dropping well-received joint projects with everyone from Party Supplies to Alchemist, Queens rapper Action Bronson links with Brooklynite producer Harry Fraud to create Saaab Stories. It’s a partnership fans have been clamoring for ever since the rhyming chef did “karate in the water” alongside Riff Raff over la musica de Harry Fraud on 2012’s “Bird On A Wire. ” But how does the project measure up to Bronson’s previous efforts with other producers, especially with so much less? On the EP opener, “2 Virgins,” Action wastes no time building a narrative up from scratch, alluding to “nickels of dirt” to signify humble beginnings and building himself up verbally into something more ruthless (“Close my eyes, spray the whip, hit your rib twice / Now your kids gotta deal with this shit, ‘cause this is life…”).
If you were hoping Action Bronson's major label debut, SAAAB Stories, would be another Blue Chips, you're going to be a little disappointed. Sure, he's still using food as a metaphor for just about everything and referencing obscure athletes, but his delivery is slower and more deliberate than on most of his previous outings. The lush instrumentals from Harry Fraud don't lend themselves to the sort of liquid wordplay present on Bronson's earlier efforts.
Released while he was causing controversy with his misogynist lyrics and derogatory comments about transvestites, the Saaab Stories EP is underground rapper Action Bronson's major-label debut, but those expecting an intro will be disappointed. Produced exclusively by Harry Fraud, the beats mix cloud rap and golden age boom bap to varying degrees, and while these busy and whirling constructions are quite attractive, they don't tend to push Bronson out front. Add the word-filled and murky "72 Virgins" as an intro, with the weird "I'm a grown man, since I had a baby dick" dropped in the lyrics as his credo, and this seems like insider stuff already, but tolerate the lack of cohesion on the front half and this EP gives up the strange and solid party tunes toward the back.
Action Bronson & Harry FraudSaab Stories[Vice/Virgin; 2013]By Chul Gugich; June 26, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetAction Bronson is a rapper who slices through the hipster/hard binary like a sharpened Cutco through sopressata. He is, simultaneously, for the jeeps and the fixed-gears; for the North Faced and the Goodwilled; for yesterday’s barber-shop-buzzed and today’s mustachioed vanguard. Ask your average 23 year-old hip hop head on Flatbush or Bedford Avenues who their top three favorite rappers of the moment are, and both will likely give the name Action Bronson.
Before you even press play on Saaab Stories, you're confronted by the unsettling dichotomy within Action Bronson: The Flushing rapper has a tremendous ear for beats, but he’s also tone deaf. Following full-length collaborations with Statik Selektah, Party Supplies, and Alchemist, Saaab Stories matches Bronson with Harry Fraud, a guy who can play both sides of the underground/Hot 97 divide with beats as rugged and plush as a sheepskin shearling. But at a time when Rick Ross’ verse on “U.
Saaab Stories, the latest release from Queens rapper Action Bronson, is slightly confounding. The EP — entirely produced by rising Brooklyn-based producer Harry Fraud — sounds gorgeous throughout, providing an array of consistently solid beats that explore sonic territory both new and old for Action. And yet, there’s something distinctly lacking in Bronson’s words.
The EP is not a format that’s utilized a lot in modern rap music, with mixtapes and Soundcloud releases instead serving as the preferred stopgap for hip-hop majordomos. This makes sense; it’s costly enough to put out LPs, given the dwindling profit margins for label-backed releases. Putting out another such release — one that’s shorter and less likely to narrow that monetary gap — doesn’t seem like the savviest business strategy.
After working exclusively with Party Supplies on 2012’s Blue Chips and then Alchemist on Rare Chandeliers, Action Bronson tapped longtime collaborator and NYC whiz kid Harry Fraud for his latest body of work, Saaab Stories. For Bronson, even with the steady brilliance and brash wit that made the aforementioned projects so enjoyable, Fraud’s production matches his laconic delivery in a way that other producers’ work just hasn’t. This makes Saaab Stories a much more cohesive mixtape than it would have been otherwise.