Action Bronson embraces his imperfections. In fact, the Queens MC stumbles on his own album Intro but keeps the ball rolling without hesitance. Mr. Wonderful is Bronson’s major label debut and the album opener “Brand New Car” is all the indication you’ll need that it’s on his terms. Off key singing, plush instrumental backdrops, and over the top confidence included, the album is an extension of what Bronsolino fans have come to love. He takes the risk of experimenting with his sound and while appreciated in some cases, they become uncertain moments at times. It’ll leave you wondering if he’s really sharing something personal, or if he’s just being funny again.
Mr. Wonderful practically lives in the 70’s/mid 80’s, but he doesn’t lose a step in the lyrical field he’s accustomed to. “Terry” produced by The Alchemist packs in the charming and comedic Bronson we all love, while “The Rising” is a braggadocios success story laced with top of the line shit talking from long time friend Big Body Bes (“You might see my face stamped on a bag of dope,” he boasts). The Ghostface comparisons are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Action is cooking up a recipe that manages to pack in a nostalgic vibe with the current state of rap. It doesn’t hurt that he has a larger than life personality to go with it.
The second half of the album is where things take a risky turn. Bronson shifts into short story mode, which begins with “Thug Love Story 2017 The Musical.” The song which isn’t performed by Bronson himself, tells the story of a love lost to the streets. We’re then led into “City Boy Blues” which stretches this story for much longer than we would’ve needed. It’s yet another moment you’re left wondering if Bronsolino is trying to really sell us on his pitchy vocals. These moments are huge misfires for an otherwise exceptional experience. Instead of highlighting his bigger than life personality and animated lyrical ability throughout the album, he goes against the grain just a tad too much here. Bronson also flexes his singing chops on “Baby Blue.” The bitter anthem features some of the pettiest lyrics you’ll ever hear, thanks to Chance The Rapper, and the production lays well with Action’s vocals. Of the three songs he sings on, it’s the best executed.
Bronson comes with a wave of originality that hasn’t been seen in quite sometime. Rap’s new giant has plenty to offer and dares to take risks. It’s almost a guarantee that you won’t hear a song that samples Artischock as he did with “Only In America” on another rap album anytime soon. The closing track “Easy Rider” plays out like the high point of a classic western. As he develops more direction, he’ll remain one to watch.
Standouts: “Baby Blue,” “Galactic Love,” “Easy Rider,” “Actin’ Crazy,” “Terry”