Before Action Bronson dropped Mr. Wonderful, everyone thought it’d be the end of him. Unlike his slew of successful mixtapes and independent releases, Mr. Wonderful is Bronson’s first release after joining up with the crew at Goliath Artists (with the likes of Eminem, The Alchemist, Danny Brown, etc.), and his first release on a major label – Atlantic Records.
Now, maybe it’s because I ride around on old Harley-Davidson motrocycles, but when I peeped the release for ‘Easy Rider’ last August, I was stoked. Yeah, sure, Bronson was jamming down the open road on an old Shovelhead chopper. And yeah, sure, he did it while trippin’ balls and getting in touch with his inner alien (who hasn’t am I right?!). Whatever it was, the track was solid, and I backed it.
Then came ‘Actin’ Crazy’ back in January. Again, my interest was piqued. It became apparent to me right then and there that all the Atlantic money was finding its way into the right pockets – the production on that track is killer, and when ‘Terry’ dropped a month later, I was practically frothing at the eardrums.
The laid back bossa nova/lounge-style jam really hit me where it counts.
A lot of the early reviews of this record were iffy at best. Adrian Spinelli over at PASTE ‘forgave’ Bronson for what he considered sub-par performing, and only did so because of the sheer amount of hired guns Bronson employed on the record (Party Supplies, 88-Keys, Mark Ronson, The Alchemist, Noah “40” Shebib, Omen, etc.). Jordan Sargent from Pitchfork, who gave Bronson a rave review for his Blue Chips 2 mixtape, walked away less than stoked on the record, saying that Bronson’s attempt at flipping the bird to the “grim and unfair reality” of being a critically acclaimed hip hop artist today fell short.
Well, fuck those guys.
We all knew Bronson was walking into this record with a lot of added pressure to perform, as well as an entirely different mindset with which to record. Was the record’s ebb and flow a little unfocused? Yeah, sure. Was ‘The Passage’ kind of pointless, in the grand scheme of things? Absolutely. Who honestly gives a fuck about Prague? Nobody except the porn industry, that’s who!
But that’s the whole point. This record’s purpose wasn’t supposed to be a provocative look into the heart and soul of one of the modern world’s best poets. It was supposed to be a record put out by a guy who writes bars like, “The brass band was seven pieces / my bitch’s name is Peaches / We got twin mac 11’s with the features / Shit, you barely got sneaker money / So much dick in they mouth that’s why these mother fuckers speakin’ funny,” and “I feel so alive I think I shit myself,” and “We’ll fucking 360 on this pussy.” WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN I DON’T KNOW BUT STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT AND JUST LAUGH LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE, MAN.
If you take a minute to step away from your predispositions about what you think Action Bronson is supposed to sound like, this jawn is pretty clutch. The organ and piano licks, mixed with the heavy percussion on ‘The Rising’ is perfect. The bass and synth in ‘Actin Crazy’ will have you feeling the same type of way as the intergalactic space traveling, chicken-dragon riding, robotic-shark lasering fuckery on the music video does. At times it’s uplifting and energetic, if inspirational, and it’s totally weird. And it’s great.
The retro soul vibe of ‘City Boy Blues,’ as well as the contemplative and introspective jazzy rock and roll pump found in ‘A Light In The Addict,’ (Yeah, our boy even pays “homage” to the late, great Shel Siverstein) is Goddamn divine.
The production on this record is on point, and Bronson’s bars are just what you’d expect them to be; part introspection, part complete fucking drivel, and part comedic self-deprecation, all wrapped in an incredibly soulful, clever, and relevant package. So long as you walk into it understanding the context of the release itself, in relation to where Bronson is in his career, you’ll walk away from it as happy as I did.
Or maybe it’s the weed. Whatever. Go cop this.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10