Action Bronson's lighthearted new album Mr. Wonderful continues to develop Bronson as a food-lovin', weed-smokin' funny guy.
Starting with the album cover, the entire project is very cartoon-like. Bronson flows like the Peter Griffin of rap, bragging about absurdities that other rappers wouldn't mention. The album is full of wild lyrics, proving that if Action Bronson has one thing to offer hip hop, it's his imagination. He's absolutely ludicrous, not completely unlike Ludacris was on Word of Mouf.
The tired topics of lean, the club, and jewelry aren't a part of Bronson's repertoire. "Put a jacuzzi on the seven train / And lay John Coltrane play with that cocaine face," he daydreams on "Easy Rider."
“I'm getting topped off in the front row of the opera," he brags on "Baby Blue." On "Actin Crazy," Bronson boasts with his tongue-in-cheek flow, "All I do is eat oysters / And speak six languages in three voices." To the common man, it's no more relatable than showering strippers with money while sipping promethazine, but at least it brings a smile.
However, despite the chuckles and grins that Mr. Wonderful brings, Bronson does seem to struggle slightly with differentiating his lyrics. He tells the pilot where to land on both "Terry" and "Easy Rider," he's "sittin' first class" on both "A Light In The Addict" and "Falconry," and of course, just about every track mentions something he's eaten recently. It isn't exactly problematic, but it does seem to display a stifling of creativity on his end.
The album displays the comedic, Fuck That's Delicious side of Action Bronson with the exception of a couple tracks. On "A Light In The Addict," Bronson describes staring out the airplane window with the mind of a schizo and having a "sleepover" with his weapons. His melancholy insight is kept to one verse as the majority of the six-minute cut is dedicated to Black Atlass' soulful vocals and Party Supplies' bluesy production.
The gloominess continues on "Baby Blue," the previously released single featuring Chance The Rapper with Mark Ronson on production. The track opens up on relationships gone awry before Chance The Rapper borrows the spotlight for a fantastic verse.
Musically, the album boasts tasteful production from an assortment of strong producers. Statik Selektah, Noah "40" Shebib, and Oh No provide one-offs while The Alchemist, Party Supplies, and Mark Ronson produced multiple beats for the album. Billy Joel, Bill Withers, and Michael Jackson are all given songwriting credit on different tracks, showing Bronson's fondness for intelligent, soulful pop music from the '70s.
In fact, it seems like the entire album was built off music from the past as Mr. Wonderful blends a wide range of vintage rock, funk, and jazz sounds with hip hop. "City Boy Blues" channels Funkadelic's spirit, while "Galactic Love" could pass for a Gil-Scott Heron rarity. "The Passage - Live From Prague" is pure psych-rock that precedes the album's epic closer "Easy Rider," a song that uses the fuzzed-out '60s vibe Jefferson Airplane applied on Surrealistic Pillow.
Overall, Action Bronson and his team of great producers have delivered a fine 50-minute LP. One week after Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly has everyone neck-deep in socio-political debate, Mr. Wonderful works to remind us that hip hop can definitely be lighthearted, if not hilarious.
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