Action Bronson’s third studio album, “Mr. Wonderful“, landed on March 23 and is coated in soul and East Coast flavors.
Like a modern day Jewish/Albanian Notorious B.I.G., Action Bronson blends storytelling and hip hop into a singular medium that delights as much as it jams. There is more in this album’s 13 tracks and 50 minutes of hip hop than some artists have in their whole repertoire.
“Terry”, the album’s third track, is explicit in nature and serves as a snapshot into the personality and style that Bronson brings. The beat is simple and soulful, wonderfully sampled and lays the foundation for a five-minute jam. There’s artistry in the way the track is composed and it ends with a wonderful transition into the next track, “Actin Crazy”. “Actin Crazy” is the first taste of trippy and experimental. There is a hypnotizing drone that persists behind Bronson’s rhythmic flow and personal lyrics. If “Terry” is a snapshot, “Actin Crazy” is the author’s note.
By the time the album gets to “Baby Blue”, the ninth track, the listener will have covered a lot of musical ground, when suddenly Bronson gets a little emotional. There’s a soul in this track that is bared beautifully. It’s honest exposure not found throughout hip hop. Sure, lots of artists have material that comes from somewhere beneath the skin, and they can often be revealing, but Bronson and his guest Chance the Rapper both give honest and heart-filled lyrics. It doesn’t hurt that the music video is pretty stellar, too.
The last track is “Easy Rider”, a psychedelic hip hop piece that really crosses some borders. Despite a kind of mind-boggling composition, Bronson rocks it. What’s best, the psychedelic vibe feels like a natural progression of the album: of course this is where it would end up.
All in all, Mr. Wonderful deserves some focus. It’s not the next great American album, but it’s a great step in a positive direction, both for hip hop and music as a whole. Good on you Action Bronson, good on you.
Action Bronson can be found at the world famous Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this year. If you’re attending, make sure to squeeze in a trip to his stage.