Friday, September 8, 2017

Action Bronson - Blue Chips 7000 Review

The relationship I have with Action Bronson can be described as love/hate. It seems like so long ago, but when Bronson began to bubble no one could look past his mimicking of Ghostface Killah. Because of that, he had already reached a creative impasse with vocals that aren't easily altered. Couple that with his lackluster lyrics, one that rode the coattails of numerous Hip-Hop cliches, only partitioned by lewd humor on the upswing thanks to Danny Brown, Riff Raff, Tyler The Creator, and others, and to think an original lane had been drawn that led to multiple webisodes would be unexpected. But that's exactly what happened, and it's where my partial love emerges. First, there was Fuck That's Delicious, a show that tracked Bronson's comical obesity through his various culinary escapades. And then there was the brilliant Traveling The Stars, a Mystery Science Theater 3000-esque production where Bronson and fellow rapping friends would smoke, joke, and ponder the madness of Ancient Aliens. All that's to say, Bronson's better suited as a visual comedian than a hackneyed rapper. 2015's Mr. Wonderful proved that, with dry content and shoddy singing that wouldn't be amended till the grand finale 'Easy Rider.' Nothing on Blue Chips 7000 tops that, but the quality across the board has been rectified.

Believe it or not, it should be noted that the stakes of Blue Chips 7000 are higher than that of Bronson's major label debut. All that thanks to the title. Today, fans drive the narrative, and care more for status and consequence than the semantics of industry expectations. Accrediting your nickname, Mr. Wonderful, to an album means far less than attaching the Blue Chips legacy, one defined by two mixtapes that defined Bronson's career. Problem being, the primary characteristic of the Blue Chips series, that of unfettered 70's and 80's Soul, Rock, and Pop samples, transitions poorly to a record industry where strict limitations are in place. However, the producer carousel of Party Supplies (the main sample supplier during those days of yore), Alchemist, Harry Fraud, and Knxwledge do their best to reanimate the liveliness of Bronson's previous works. For the most part, they succeed, crafting beats far more buoyant and frisky than Mr. Wonderful's desultory position. The slapdash shoe-horning found during the three-track run of 'Baby Blue,' 'Only In America,' and 'Galactic Love,' for example, is nowhere to be seen on 7000. Sonically, the palate is far more consistent, leading to absorbing pleasures when Bronson's off the mark.

Not surprisingly, that happens often. Why? Because Bronson has never, ever, been a good rapper. Much like Mr. Wonderful there's far too many examples to count, but the predominant theme throughout 7000 is that there is none. One-liners come and go, non-sequitur's about as common as the stationary flow Bronson uses throughout. "Puerto Rican Air Force One's at the wedding," found on 'Wolfpack,' is the first rhyme of the album, "I'm a psychedelic image of a black vulture trapped inside  a past solider," on 'Durag Vs. Headband,' is the last. For much of 7000, the words are seemingly picked at random, with the only requirement that of their homonymic position. To Bronson, rhyming and sporting a fair deal of charisma is all that matters, as no song, apart from 'My Right Lung,' honors an exact topic. Even then, 'My Right Lung' only does so because of Bronson's minor introspection that he wishes to dunk a basketball, something that comes off as pointless when perceived as the most serious moment here. Elsewhere though, 7000 aims to make up for the lack of conviction and elaborate samples with a handful of irrelevant skits. Most flounder, like the pseudo-philosophical ramblings of '9-24-7000' or the not-so sensual moaning of 'Let It Rain,' but some, like 'La Luna's' on hold ringtone freestyle turned full-fledged flexing, profit from minimal creativity.

While there's few standouts to gleam, the consistency present on 7000 is something we rarely see from Bronson. This, largely due to the talented production team, combining forces to create a style that's sonically-cohesive. The only exclusion to this is the lead single 'Let Me Breathe,' which has a slight G-Funk bounce, failing to fit Bronson's East Coast swing and the album's groovy craftiness. Tracks like 'Hot Pepper' or "Let It Rain' billow with anime-like excess, similar to the cartoonish nature of Madlib or 7L, the latter especially comparable thanks to his Czarface supergroup. These are 7000's best moments, as they allow for direct aversion to Bronson's subpar rapping. Take 'The Choreographer' and '9-24-7000,' two tracks on opposing sides of this approach. The former enhances Bronson's charisma with some quirks of its own, swaying and bouncing to a drawn out Soul sample, while the latter nimbly weaves in the recess, leaving the emcee to his own devices. Throw in 16 purchased Rick Ross bars and the album's third single is undoubtedly its most boring. Essentially, when Bronson becomes the figurehead, 7000's quality takes a dip, as opposed to the far more talented producers holding him up.

Likely a result of his Internet semi-stardom, Bronson's prior prolificness has taken a backseat. The glaring holes in his rapping style, namely his one-dimensional flow and forgettable one-liners, not as prominent now that his biannual project drops have receded. This isn't just on the whole, as 7000's measly 39 minutes paint a distinct portrait of a man who has other, more profitable interests. This is a win-win, considering Mr. Wonderful's 49 minutes were a slog. Both LP's contain 13 tracks, but there there were eight songs over four minutes, here there's only one. On the whole, that's the most striking example of decision-making Bronson conjured up, since his barebones Boom Bap settles nicely on the short end of the spectrum. Length leads to effort, effort leads to emotion, emotion leads to Bronson singing. And no one wants that. On 7000, Bronson heavily burrows himself into Hip-Hop, honoring the hardened code of conduct, failing to take any risks. Given how limited his are already, that's a positive. Sometimes the lackadaisical affair becomes a bit too blunt, as seen on 'Chop Chop Chop' which pushes 'Wheels On The Bus' towards the street. But even then, Bronson's slack jaw confidence and Daringer's formidable production succeed in making something that's simple and honest. And that's exactly what Blue Chips 7000 is.

No comments:

Post a Comment