When he’s not food blogging for VICE’s Munchies outlet on “Fuck That’s Delicious,” Action Bronson is rapping (though the food references don’t stay too far apart). On his “official” first major label release, Mr. Wonderful, Bronson takes on multiple producers, multiple styles of rap, and even singing, three things he’s never really done that much of before.
Back when he did Blue Chips, or even as far as Dr. Lecter, Bronson had a kind of Ghostface Killah-like vibe to his sound, flow, and mixtape production. Now, everything is recorded really well, and Action is heard completely clear, which is something that would be great for probably any other artists. However, for Bronson, he kind of needs that poor quality mixtape sound, where the audio is a bit scratchy. For one, he’s no singer, and it’s kind of funny-good on “Baby Blue,” but quite honestly he just shouldn’t be doing it. Second, his guest-list of producers like The Alchemist, Statik Selektah, Noah “40” Shebib, Oh No & 88 Keys, don’t really support the rapper from underneath like Party Supplies really does on Blue Chips. Mark Ronson might have been the best choice for Bronson, but he only sees 2 tracks here on the record.
My main problem with Mr. Wonderful though isn’t that Bronson sounds better with old school sounding beats and a little shittier audio quality on the vocals, my problem is his balance between serious and humor that never really clicks together. Tracks like the opener, “Brand New Car,” and “Falconry,” have production that sounds goofy and childish, (not like Childish Gambino, Donald Glover kind of childish), like it sounds like “clown-rap”. With Bronson trying to project himself as the humorous-yet-bluesy guy from Queens who just got his heartbroken, some tracks seem to only focus on the humor, and the way it’s done is often too clown-like comical. It feels like Bronson is trying to put on a show for us,, not tell us a story. The novelty’s worn off. Besides, rapping from a port-a-potty during your set wasn’t funny at all, you didn’t even wash your hands, gross.
With the album’s opening couple of songs setting of Bronson as a rapper, the tone shifts to start to tell his story of heartbreak on “Thug Love Story 2017 (The Musical)”. Going on about how this girl broke his bluesy-heart, it all culminates on track 9, “Baby Blue (feat. Chance the Rapper).” It is in this moment of the album, where in the span of 45 seconds, Chance the Rapper is able to pull off what Bronson couldn’t do on the entire record: rap about how heartbroken he is, while still being able to be humorous. Bronson is either too serious, too normal, or just uninventive.
Chance’s wordplay of lines like, “I hope you never get off Fridays and you work at Friday’s that’s always busy on Fridays”, or, “I hope the zipper on your jacket get stuck, And your headphones short, and your charger don’t work, And you spill shit on your shirt”, liven the situation up like Bronson intended, and then is serious towards the end with, “I hope you ruined this shit for a reason, I hope you happy.” This isn’t designed as just a praise to Chance the Rapper by saying that he did in one verse what Bronson couldn’t for all of Mr. Wonderful, but it was the moment where I realized what didn’t click on the record. If Bronson can learn to balance his storytelling with his want for humor, maybe the next release will be what I’ve been waiting to see come from him, because he has the potential, he’s just not working to his fullest yet.