Action Bronson has debuted.
He’s given the world Mr. Wonderful right around when Earl dropped his shit and a week after Kendrick blew up hip hop with To Pimp A Butterfly. Action Bronson is one of the best white rappers doing it though, and this is his pretty highly anticipated major label debut, so this shit should be good. Read on for Spit Talking’s Mr. Wonderful review to see if Bronsoliño delivered.
I feel conflicted about this album. On the one hand, the beats are mad dope and jump around a lot, showing that Bronson is clearly trying to do something different for hip hop with Mr. Wonderful, and he commits. On the other hand, I just don’t always super feel the rhymes. I mean, they’re dope, but I feel like Action Bronson could bring us more but he’s just keeping it chill and pretty funny sometimes. That’s fine, and shows that this album is good for kicking it with some smoke, but I’m still looking forward to the future to see what he’ll bring us once he’s been working on his rap some more.
For the musically diverse sounds this album hits and its overall chill raps (even though they never quite hit the next level), I give Mr. Wonderful a:
Brand New Car
The album starts with something that sounds like it’s an old sitcom theme song with Bronson singing before he starts rapping. Then the beat drops and comes in a little harder for Action to start really spitting. From the first track, Action Bronson’s identity is confirmed as a dope rapper but also just a funny guy. He spits some nostalgic shit so you know how he got where he is.
The second track The Rising comes in with the first feature, Big Body Bes. Again, we get a beat that sounds like it should introduce an ’80s cop show with Bronson rapping about how dope his life is and how he’s gonna run the game soon. Even when he’s boasting he’s honest, and this is one of the reason folks like Action Bronson, he just seems like a cool guy. Big Body Bes finishes off the track talking a little shit over the still-dope beat that’s repetitive but doesn’t necessarily sound like every hip hop beat, it’s pretty interesting.
Penthouses and oysters
Terry starts with Bronson saying “don’t hurt me again” over some easy listening before he goes in on the optimistic beat with a shade of darkness. He goes from giving life advice to talking about how the first time he jacked off was in a penthouse. It ain’t all that serious to Action Bronson, who just likes spitting some funny shit or rhymes about food, only occasionally getting that deep. It works for a chill sound though. The beat fades out with about a minute left for it to go into some spacy shit and fades into the next track.
Actin Crazy sounds way different than the first 3 tracks with a slow electronic beat and Bronson turning up the heat a little bit and going a little harder, like all of a sudden he isn’t fucking around. He keeps it real, saying “all I do is eat oysters, and speak 6 languages in 3 voices.” In just 4 tracks on the album, Bronson’s showing that he’s pretty versatile, in case you just think he’s a food rapper or something. This track rides well, and I could see it hitting the club.
Then we got Falconry which goes back to a lighter, more carnival-like sound for the 5th track, which features Meyhem Lauren & Big Body Bes. Again, Bronson’s rapping about how dope his life is, in case you didn’t know. At first it seems like this is almost like an interlude or a skit disguised a song, considering it’s the 5th track, only 2 and a half minutes long and starts with a bong. This is a smoke session track, and indicates who this album is really for (besides Action Bronson.) But then we do actually get an interlude as the 6th track, THUG LOVE STORY 2017 THE MUSICAL. Shit’s a pretty real 2 minutes actually that could either “be about drugs, or it could be about a woman”, then the musical flows into 3 more tracks.
It goes nicely into City Boy Blues, which really is pretty much the blues. It’s actually just Bronson singing a song without rapping, and all of a sudden this doesn’t sound like a rap album but like alternative rock or something. It’s bold to do this for 4 minutes in the middle of a rap album, but it works. It’s a pretty solid song that even ends with a guitar solo and an arena-like fadeout.
Some smooth gangsta shit
The 8th track is A Light in The Addict (featuring Party Supplies & Black Atlas) and it starts out like it’s between songs at a rock concert again. After a minute and a half of this, it all of a sudden drops into a real smooth, jazzy beat and Bronson’s back to spitting some introspective, dark shit. This is the best Action’s given to us so far on Mr. Wonderful, cause it’s some NY gangsta shit but he kills it and it doesn’t sound played. The vocal contributions take it to an R&B level, and we got some soul on the track now. Even though Bronson raps on this one, it ain’t exactly just hip hop either, but damn does it sound good. He’s being pretty bold on Mr. Wonderful, but hasn’t flopped yet.
Then we got Baby Blue, which as I’m sure you know by now features Chance the Rapper. Chance comes in singing some harsh shit about his girl before the beat drops into some staccato-type shit for Bronson to spit over before Chance comes back in with the hook. Bronson raps about how he doesn’t care if people don’t like him or that he’s getting big, cause he’s living it up. Then Chance comes in rapping some real harsh shit about how he hopes all this terrible, unlucky shit happens to his girl. This is a raw heartbreak track, and Chance is perfect for it. This track ends the musical which started with the 6th track interlude.
Prince makes an appearance (but not really)
Only in America comes in as the 10th track with more ’80s electric guitar and featuring more Party Supplies. This track continues the musical diversity Bronson’s trying to hit in Mr. Wonderful, cause this really sounds like a Prince track once the singing comes in, even though he shouts out Depeche Mode first. The whole album is definitely musically interesting with Action Bronson dipping his toes into a bunch of shit that most rappers wouldn’t touch, but overall I just gotta say the verses are just pretty good, they’re nothing amazing. I love dope lyrics, so no matter how dope or bold the beats are, I’m still always looking for rappers to spit some incredible shit.
Anyways, the musical experimentation continues in Galactic Love, and Bronson continues to rap about how dope his life is, from his drink to his piano over a nice deep bassline. He’s got some dope rhymes on this track, showing that he can hit a neat flow without needing to go fast, and he spits some realer, more depressed shit near the end about how hard he’s been working to support his family. In 2 and a half minutes, he’s made me rethink what I just wrote a paragraph ago. The verses still weren’t incredible but don’t get me wrong either, the dude can really rap.
Not what you’d expect
On the second-to-last track we get The Passage which is live from Prague, which in interesting for a track on a rap album. It starts with some old ’80s synth that slips into a nice little groove before the drums come in and you’re just waiting for the beat to drop. Then more guitar comes in and shit sounds like an updated, more metal Lord of the Rings soundtrack or something. The beat drops out with a minute and a half left for the crowd to start chanting “Bronson! Bronson!” before they die down for some guitar, bells and synth. With about 15 seconds left another beat comes in that flows into the last track.
Easy Rider ends the album by distorting and filtering that beat a little bit, then we finally get Action Bronson rapping again, about Les Paul and cholesterol, and a 10-day acid binge. After his first verse, he repeats “ride the Harley into the sunset”, showing this really is like a finale track, and you can almost hear the sun going down in the background. He raps about food, his career, the people around him, his musical influences and his life without missing a beat.
Dope, but could have been doper.
Like the beats around him on Mr. Wonderful, Bronson likes switching it up, but the album never quite reaches its full potential. It could have been a real dope concept album, but Bronson should have focused a little more on the rhymes (even though the beats are straight flames.) Instead, it’s just a pretty solid album, which is still impressive for a major label debut.
What’d you think?
I think this shows that Action Bronson is anything but a regular rapper, and he’s gonna switch it up to whatever he feels like within his range of musical tastes. I think the future is bright for him, but he should tighten up his lyrics just a bit. I ain’t talking shit though, cause Mr. Wonderful is a real good listen and makes you question what can and can’t be on a rap album.