Action Bronson • Mr. Wonderful • Atlantic • US Release Date: March 23, 2015
The time has finally arrived for former XXL Magazine freshman Action Bronson – his major label debut Mr. Wonderful dropped in late March 15. Naturally, when a Caucasian MC arrives, the question still arises, how legit could this dude be? The answer – if it even really matters anymore – is that Action Bronson is as legit as they come. Sure, he may not have the ‘range’ of say Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, or Nas, but on Mr. Wonderful, Bronson shows he’s in it for the long run. Furthermore, can any of the aforementioned really be replicated?
“Brand New Car” initiates Mr. Wonderful, setting the tone with confident, energetic rhymes. One of the most intriguing aspects of the brief opener is interpolation of Billy Joel’s “Zanzibar,” which definitely provides ‘fuel for the fire’ for Bronson to spit. “The Rising” follows, featuring Big Body Bes. The production is funky, again owing to sampling Irv Brockington’s “When I Rise.” “My mother said I better win or else she’ll f*ck me up / Ma we did it, I love you, you lucky slut.” He follows that eyebrow raising line with another brutally honest, yet laughable one: “Since I was young I had the husky gut / but I’m gorgeous, got money in the pouch just like a tourist.”
“Terry” keeps Mr. Wonderful soulful with an ‘old school’ sensibility. Like “The Rising,” there is plenty of lyrical gems to partake of, whether it’s the recurrent “smoke good, f*ck, eat drink” which describes Bronson’s pleasures in life, or “there’s no hit records on a demo.” Despite the latter, Bronson goes on to spit, “Catch me hoppin’ out the limo.”
“Actin Crazy” keeps the momentum flowing without a hitch, and Action Bronson confirms his craziness. For one, he asserts “All I do is eat oysters / and speak six languages in three voices,” while later he spits, “I feel so alive, I think I sh*t myself.” AB is definitely one ‘charming’ dude to say the least – that’s the best way to describe it.
“Falconry” featuring Meyhem Lauren and Big Body Bes shows no lack of confidence, opening with brash trash talk and eschewing a hook. Brief at only two and half minutes, Bronson and company don’t still deliver a mighty blow, even if it can’t supersede “The Rising,” “Terry” or “Actin Crazy.” Following “THUG LOVE STORY 2017 THE MUSICAL (Interlude),” Bronson has the “City Boy Blues.” In authentic blues fashion, the production, as well as Bronson’s approach itself embodies the blues idiom. This is a break from the bold rhymes Bronson has spit throughout the effort, but it shows artistic range by all means. On “A Light in The Addict” featuring Party Supplies & Black Atlass, Bronson returns to rapping without a hitch. Need proof – look no further than rhymes like “Sittin’ in first class, feelin’ like sh*t though / starin’ out the window with the mind of a schizo.”
“Baby Blue” follows, featuring oddball rap standout Chance The Rapper. Among the best of Mr. Wonderful, Bronson pours out his emotions, beginning on the memorable, pained hook: “Why you always all on my back? / Why you gotta do me like that? / Why you gotta act like a b*tch when I’m with you? / Baby girl I’m blue.” Chance The Rapper only ups the ante on his verse, which is as unorthodox as one might anticipate: “I hope you get a paper cut on your tongue / from a razor in a paper cut / I hope every soda you drink already shaken up…” “Baby Blue” is simply terrific.
On “Only in America,” Action Bronson rocks out – in a rap sort of way of course. With a guitar-driven backdrop, Bronson definitely offers something rare in the hip-hop world as of late. While it doesn’t rank among the elite, “Only In America” is certainly interesting, and Party Supplies hook accentuates that. Unsurprisingly, “Galactic Love” is a stark contrast, with a cooler backdrop for the MC to deliver his compelling, if scattered rhymes. What does one take away from “Galactic Love?” Well, he once more references his weight (“Custom made sh*t, I weigh 140 kilos”), a Volkswagen Rabbit, and Paramount Pictures.
“The Passage (Live From Prague)” marks a rarity on hip-hop albums – the live track. Maybe rap isn’t associated for an epic live performance translating to the perfectly conceived studio album, but give Bronson credit for the inclusion of this joint. “Easy Rider” concludes an overall pleasant debut, once again relying on the assist from a thoughtful sample, this time “Adimiz Miskindir Bizim.” Go figure!
All in all, Action Bronson gets things right on Mr. Wonderful. It’s not perfect, but there are ample moments where the former chef turned MC is on autopilot no questions asked. His legitimacy as an MC should not be questioned in the least – this dude has “got it.”
Favorites: “The Rising,” “Terry,” “Actin Crazy,” “Baby Blue”