Album Review: Action Bronson, Mr. Wonderful

mr wonderful

Action Bronson

Mr. Wonderful (to be released March 23, 2015)

If you’ve yet to make acquaintances with Action Bronson, it’s about time y’all get familiar.

Really, all you need to know is here in his video for “Actin’ Crazy.” Go ahead and watch, I’ll wait:

The homie spit lines like “I’m not available for nothin’/Unless it’s stupid paper, hop out the Studebaker/With Anita Baker” while riding a fire-breathing robotic eagle. Unreal.

Bronson lives his life in front of a green screen. Whatever he conjures in his bizarre imagination becomes his reality.

A successful mixtape series and head-turning guest spots helped Bronsolino land a major record deal with Atlantic Records, with Mr. Wonderful serving as his introduction into the mainstream world.

It’s hard to accurately describe Bronson’s style, and that’s what makes it so thrilling. It’s like if Redman was trapped in an MC Escher painting or if the Wu-Tang Clan hijacked Pee Wee’s Playhouse — superb storytelling swimming in a sea of chaos.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Mr. Wonderful isn’t just the witty lyricism, it’s also the diversity in musical sounds. The’re a method to Bam Bam’s madness. He’s as crazy as a fox.

The intro track “Brand New Car” is so lighthearted and bouncy that it could be the theme for a 90s sitcom in the TGIF days. “When I Rise” sounds like your church choir popped a Molly, with Bronson spitting his trademark insanity, lovingly calling his mom a “slut,” disses a guy for driving a Scion (chill, Bronson, I drive a Scion) all while declaring his life is a kaleidoscope. That’s a pretty fitting description, actually.

Bronson links with Chance the Rapper for the soul-filled “Baby Blue,” where the pair trade hilariously bitter barbs about their women. “I’m not exactly flawless, but I’m gorgeous, just like a horse is/I know the thought of me succeeding makes a lot of people nauseous,” Bronson spits, while Chance goes in too: “I hope there’s always snow in your driveway/I hope you never get off Fridays/And you work at a Friday’s that’s always busy on Fridays.”

Action sounds like he’s bearing his sins in a smoky 90s nightclub on “A Light in the Addict” while “City Boy Blues” is a slice of funk that features Bronson’s off-kilter crooning. Trust me, it works MUCH better than you’d expect. The same goes for “Only In America,” where he snaps on his enemies (your b**** look like Eddie Griffin”) over hyperactive 80s guitar licks.

At just 13 tracks, the album breezes by and remains pretty cohesive despite the clashing production styles. The only track that doesn’t quite work is “The Passage,” where Bam Bam’s spaced-out vocals distort and float too far in the stratosphere. You can barely catch what he’s saying — which I’m sure is intentional — but it’s a little frustrating too.

By the time Bronson hops on this chopper on “Easy Rider” and rolls off into the sunset, you’ll realize Mr. Wonderful is like revisiting your favorite cheesy 80s movie, filled with over-the-top violence and bad special effects. Snooty critics won’t get the hype because it doesn’t fit the mold of a typical successful project. But that’s exactly WHY this works — it’s crazy, hilarious, cringe-worthy and thoroughly entertaining.

Best tracks: “Actin Crazy,” “When I Rise,” “Only In America”

4 stars out of 5



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