Is Action Bronson Truly 'Mr. Wonderful' On His Major Label Debut?

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One of the most exciting new rappers to debut in the 2010's Action Bronson from Flushing, Queens has both his own style visually and lyrically.

While many claim that he sounds derivative of Ghostface Killah, Bronson's hitch-pitched nasal wrasp is really just a product of his Queens environment.

An overweight, red-bearded Albanian Jew, Bronson certainly stood out in the crowd of rappers, originally making a wave with heralded mix tapes like Blue Chips and Rare Chandeliers.

Tapping into the seedy underbelly of New York City he set himself apart from the pack by understanding the importance of humor and punch lines instead of weighing the listener down with stoic realism.

It came as a shock to most listeners when Warner Brothers signed him in 2012.

One would think that record labels would want to keep milking the "gangster" cow and find the next level of violent, angry young street rapper out there. But Action Bronson's charm is indisputable.

The man spent years as a cook in kitchens in New York City moving from restaurant to restaurant and soaking up a long list of gourmet styles before breaking his leg forced him to rethink his calling. He even hosted online cooking shows and still shares his latest gastronomical creations on his Instagram account.

This is just another interesting aspect of the man the major labels were interested in. Warner Brothers eventually gave him to Vice Records a subsidiary of Atlantic for his big major label debut.

So is Mr. Wonderful another case of major labels getting in the way with too many chefs (pardon the pun) in the kitchen? Will multiple major producers and guest rappers dilute the witty rappers vision? Unfortunitely the answer isn't that cut-and-dry.

Mr. Wonderful, taking the name of the famous Shark Tank millionaire, straddles the line of trying new things while still including many quirks we grew to love with mix tape-era Bronson.

The Billy Joel sampling opener "Brand New Car" is a bit too on-the-nose, sounding like Action isn't ready to take this opportunity too seriously, complete with out of pitch vocals and a jaded attitude. Mark Ronson isn't exactly of perfect match to produce Action Bronson, this is the guy who produced Uptown Funk after all.

The Alchemist has more chemistry (pardon the pun pt 2) with Bronson with the layered, New York-centric jazz of "Terry" which slowly comes to a halt so sedated it sounds like Bronsons been on a three-day-bender.

"Falconry" sounds straight out of Wu-Tang classic mid 90's heyday.

The only missteps occur when Action tries to be different just to be different. "City Boy Blues" finds the rapper singing, but luckily instead of doing an emotional balled we get a gritty blues vamp which surprisingly works for the album. It's not what we expected out of Bronson but sometimes trying something new is worth the risk.

"A Light In The Addict" continues the mid-album conceptual piece with rain sounds and a funky piano lick.

And more singing. "Only In America" finds Bronson rapping to a corny, rocked-out sample and some dumb lyrics like "Your bitch look like Eddie Griffin."

Saving the last half of the album is the gorgeous New York banger "Baby Blue." Bronson starts the track singing over a catchy piano "Why you always all on my back" before the Ronson production kicks in creating a beautiful sound like if Cam'ron had more star presence or if Jay-Z was still hungry. Not even Ghostface could pull this track off and make it sound so easy. At the end of the track a flock of horns blare and the clouds part for thirty seconds.

This is Bronson's one time on the album you can tell he's looking for a home run. It's got everything we loved about the mix tapes with a new shiny coat of paint.

We will see which direction Bronson takes for the next album as there are so many directions on Mr Wonderful we are not really closer to knowing the real Action Bronson.

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