Action Bronson, “Blue Chips 7000”

Action Bronson
Blue Chips 7000
ATLANTIC/VICE
7/10

With Action Bronson, you know what you’re going to get. The beats, delirious visions equal parts ’70s psych and ’90s boom-bap, are gonna slap. His lyrics will be littered with outrageously creative one-liners and stories too eccentric to believe but too much fun to dismiss. His discography is filled with records that blend these characteristics to varying degrees of success. Dr. Lecter (2011) and the first two Blue Chips mixtapes from 2012 and 2013 are highlights, while 2015’s Mr. Wonderful—his major label debut—feels thrown together and tossed off. Blue Chips 7000, the official follow up, takes the form of its first two mixtape counterparts: equal doses of hilarious one-liners and head-knocking beats that come together in a way only Bronson can pull off.

On the album’s early tracks, Mr. Baklava establishes his footing and acclimates his voice to the impressive and diverse set of producers he’s enlisted for the project. “Wolfpack” and “La Luna” slowly reintroduce us to the Bronson we know and love. On the latter, he raps, “Came out the pussy wearing Timbs.” It’s hard to beat that as an introduction. Old pal Party Supplies returns, as do The Alchemist and Harry Fraud, who produced Bronson’s Saaab Stories EP. That’s a lot of star power to control, yet Bronson’s unwavering half-yell demands that attention is turned toward him.

“The Chairman’s Intent,” the second single from the record, features Bronson in taunt mode, jeering an introductory chant of “You don’t even know me” to nobody in particular. The warped psych sample is the sort of beat on top of which Bronson best performs. It’s spiraling and serpentine, bold enough to rival his voice yet ceding enough control to let the emcee steal the show. “Bonzai” functions as an interlude of sorts, and a lounge jazz rhythm section backs Bronsolino as he raps, “Now I’m layin’ in the bed naked / My chick said I look like Kevin Bacon / I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not / But I’ll take it.”

Most of all, Bronson simply seems fully in control of the world he’s created on Blue Chips 7000. This is most apparent on the album’s standouts, “TANK” and penultimate track “Chop Chop Chop.” The former features Big Body Bes and a start-and-stop beat equal parts funk and ’80s sitcom theme song. Bronson raps, “Guns under the pillow like my tooth missin’ / Everybody know it’s me ’cause the roof missin’ / You can see my smile from a mile.”

And Bronson has every reason in the world to smile. He’s got his own TV show where he basically gets to eat while being filmed—and that’s his side gig. There may be a time sooner rather than later in which his rap career gives way to his personality. But in a way, Bronson’s rap career is the purest distillation of that personality, for better or worse. The bombast, the eccentricity, the rare moments of vulnerability. You get boast after boast, each projected more vividly than the last, but you also get the horrifying accusations of misogyny left untouched and buried somewhere far, far from here. Outside of an open letter, the rapper hasn’t done much to show growth or change. Action Bronson the personality has swallowed any semblance of the man himself. And that, paradoxically, is what makes a project like Blue Chips 7000 such an engaging listen.

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