By Luis Taganas
On March 24, eccentric New York based rapper, Action Bronson released his major label debut album, “Mr. Wonderful.”
A former chef, Bronson has made huge waves in the underground hip-hop scene, a member of the new wave of New York hip-hop, the Beast Coast. A big personality, Bronson flaunts himself in his music, bringing fun and humorous lyrics littered with drug and culinary references. Many have compared him to the legendary Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan in voice and delivery, but more colorful and less serious.
Bronson burst onto the underground scene with a series of mixtapes that garnered a cult following. His gruff, raspy voice is accompanied with a laid back delivery and production that utilizes many classic jazz samples. With tapes such as Blue Chips and Rare Chandeliers, Bronson made it onto XXL Magazine’s yearly “Freshmen Class” list, which highlights up-and-coming rappers to look out for.
Mr. Wonderful kicks off with the song “Brand New Car” where Bronson brings his heavy energy and proclaims how awesome he is. But the next track, “The Rising”, brings along a thundering beat, with samples of a pitched up church choir and a bluesy piano. The pounding percussion on this track gives it a bravado like no other. The real highlight of the song is the Big Body Bes feature. His pointless rambling paired with his gruff voice just adds so much more to the song.
Another standout track on this release is “City Boy Blues” which features a busy jazz instrumental and Bronson singing in the background about a gold digger he had met in the city. The song plays just like a hard rock/jazz song from the 60s, with its organ solos and frantic percussion.
The album was preceded by a stellar series of singles, including the song “Baby Blue,” which features Chance the Rapper, and Mark Ronson on production. The song features a laid back, R&B vibe, with a catchy piano melody and an infectious hook. Chance does his part, bringing an unorthodox delivery, but humorous lyrics. The track is fun and accessible, arguably the best on the album.
Though a lot of the tracks work well as individuals, they do not really pull together as a cohesive whole. Some tracks are quite memorable, while others just fall flat for the sake of falling flat. They just do not live up to the others and fade into the background. Mr. Wonderful does bring cohesiveness in terms of Action Bronson’s music. This is pretty much a summary of his other work, bringing nothing new in terms of sound, and Bronson has not really grown much as an MC in his career. The value of this album comes from its novelty, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but one can only enjoy this album so much until its repetitiveness makes the album bland and boring.
Overall, “Mr. Wonderful” is an enjoyable listen. Action Bronson solidifies himself as one of the jesters of the new school of hip-hop. But there lacks a certain element of progression as an artist. The album seems so cookie cutter from Bronson’s other work. Fans of him will definitely enjoy this album, and newcomers will too, but casual listeners still feeling their way around Bronson’s discography will find this to be more of the same.