It seems as if the underground Hip Hop scene has been trying to hold on to Action Bronson for the longest while now. Since his 2011 debut, Dr. Lecter, Bronson has rapidly solidified a cult following, allowing him to patiently prepare for his debut major album release. The intervening years have seen Bronson collaborate on full-length projects with singular producers such as, Statik Selektah (Well-Done, 2011), Party Supplies (Blue Chips, 2012 & Blue Chips 2, 2013), Alchemist (Rare Chandeliers 2013) and Harry Fraud (Saaab Stories, 2013). Four years and a whole host of projects later, the wait is over as Action Bronson presents, Mr. Wonderful.
In the lead up to the album’s release, Bronson stated that the project was a blend of genres due to the mix of producers, as well as use of samples from a certain era. Mr. Wonderful is the first official project on which Bronson has called on a variation of producers, bringing together familiar names that he’s worked with in the past, including the likes of Statik Selektah, Alchemist and Party Supplies, whilst adding other established producers Mark Ronson and Noah ‘40’ Shebib to the credits, among others.
For the opening half of the project, Bronson delivers exactly what you would expect from the Queens, NY native, applying the same formula that has made him successful up to this point. ‘Brand New Car’ acts as the introduction as Bronson performs his usual lyrical acrobatics over the curtain raising Mark Ronson production. Bronson then stomps all over the church choir inspired ‘The Rising’, sharing, “Since I was young I had the husky gut / but I’m gorgeous, got money in the pouch just like a tourist” in his usual charismatic flair.
Two of the album’s highlights come back to back, in the form of ‘Terry’ and ‘Actin Crazy’. The former is a delicate, soulful jazz infused instrumental produced by Alchemist, allowing Bronson to spit his customary extensive verses, with a loosely put together hook. This glides seamlessly into ‘Actin Crazy’, a bouncy beat that is guaranteed to make an impression in the club, despite not being an obvious candidate to do so. The first guest verse on the album is given to long time partner in crime, Meyhem Lauren on ‘Falconry’. The entertaining, somewhat unusual track brings to an end an accomplished start to the project.
From here, Action Bronson takes steps outside of his comfort zone, experimenting with rock-influenced production and most notably singing. ‘City Boy Blues’ has Bronson embracing his inner rock star, as the full drum kit crashes all over a rough guitar riff. The aforementioned track, in addition to others like ‘Baby Blue [Ft. Chance The Rapper]’ and ‘Easy Rider’ sound like music that would seem suitable for a movie montage, and is a habit of Bronson’s when he picks his beats, adding a cinematic atmosphere to his work.
There’s a lot to like about this album, for example, the immaculate production, as Action Bronson consolidates his current position in Hip Hop, but a concern people may express is that Mr Wonderful hasn’t expanded on much that we don’t already know about him. Other than impressively sharing some genuine, personal thoughts on ‘A Light In The Addict’ and in spurts during ‘Baby Blue’, the album lacks any real story or emotive depth. Of course, such things have never been associated with Bronson, so to expect it now could be seen as unfair. Overall, it’s another project that Action Bronson’s fans can enjoy for the foreseeable future.