Artist: Action Bronson
Album: Mr. Wonderful
Label: Atlantic Records / Vice Records
Release Date: March 23, 2015
Action Bronson’s first major label studio album, Mr. Wonderful, seems to be an exploration into all different aspects of music and into Bronson as an artist himself. In this genre, studio albums are generally crafted to appeal to the mass populous with a heavy emphasis on catchy singles, yet with every track serving a purpose and perfectly produced. However, Bronson treats this album more like a mixtape, doing exactly what he pleases. The product is a diverse collection of tracks ranging from jazz-funk fusion, to 80s rock, to off-key singing. Bronson throws in his trademark style and puts together a uniquely disorganized yet thoroughly satisfying project.
All of Bronson’s previous albums contained production from only one person, while Mr. Wonderful contains tracks from multiple producers. This might be one of the reasons that this album, more so than any of his other releases, covers such a wide range of musical styles. With production from the likes of The Alchemist, (who produced Rare Chandeliers for Bronson), 88 Keys, Statik Selektah, (who produced the album Well Done for Bronson), and Party Supplies (who produced the Blue Chips series), the album ranges from rock to hip-hop and pleases at every turn. The total originality of it can be overwhelming on first listen, as the beats jump from genre to genre with almost no transition between. The album also features Bronson’s right-hand man Big Body Bes, Chance the Rapper, Meyhem Lauren and Party Supplies.
Mr. Wonderful also contains a mini opera-esque musical jammed into the middle of the album. It starts with the track “Thug Love Story 2017 (The Musical) Interlude” and ends with track “Baby Blue” featuring a verse from Chance the Rapper. This mini-musical tells the story of a runaway female who leaves Bronson broken hearted. The idea of squeezing a separate musical concept into the middle of an album is extremely ambitious and in this case it was well executed.
Some of the stand-out tracks are “Actin Crazy,” “Falconry,” and “Easy Rider,” all which feature Bronson’s trademark braggadocios exploits littered with food references and tales of the good life. On “Actin Crazy” Bronson claims, “All I do is eat oysters/ and speak 6 languages in 3 voices/ It’s Adriatic summers on the sailboat/ don’t even try to call I’m not available for nothing.” While on “Easy Rider” he states, “The shit I smoke is like cholesterol/Spill dressing on the vest at festival/ best of all/had a Puerto Rican midget at my beck and call/ best believe there was neck involved… took acid for 10 days straight up in the mountains/ started running with the stallions/ playing Frisbee in the West Indies.”
Although Mr. Wonderful is Bronson’s third studio album it is the first one released by a major label. It’s refreshing to hear that Bronson stays true his style as an emcee and made this album for himself and his fans instead of for some nameless suite behind a desk. Mr. Wonderful is a solid release by Bronson and if this is a foreshadowing of what’s to come from the artist, it’s safe to say that he’ll still be around a number of years from now; and in this era of hip-hop one hit wonders, just being able to stay relevant, let alone continuing to come out with solid tracks, is an accomplishment in itself.