There are few rappers with more character than Action Bronson. The 300+ pound, chef-turned-rapper Flushing's native has been delivering eccentric bars about food, women, cars, and literally everything in between for years. He raps with the persona of a billionaire playboy drug kingpin. Bronson raps about nothing, and everything, with the most insane shout-outs and metaphors while still holding on to the classic East Coast hip-hop sound. On the surface, he may appear as a more refined Lonely Island, but with extremely clever bars, a host of great producers (Statik Selektah, Harry Fraud, the Alchemist) behind him, and a buttery flow, Action is a legitimate respectable rapper. So when he announced that he would be releasing his major label debut Mr. Wonderful I was beyond excited to hear what he had to offer. But I ended up being thoroughly disappointed.
To promote the album, Bronson released four singles, "Easy Rider", "Actin Crazy", "Terry" and "Baby Blue" featuring Chance the Rapper. "Easy Rider" was one of my favorite songs of last year. "Actin Crazy" and "Terry" are two very smooth, yet very different tracks, with the former being produced by Noah "40", and the latter being produced by the Alchemist, but both tracks lets Bronson flow effortlessly all over the beat. "Baby Blue" is one of the few songs by Bronson that actually has a definite theme of reminiscing on and cursing an ex, but the track is pretty slow and the beat sounds like a pop song, rather than a hip-hop beat, probably since the cut was produced by Mark Ronson of all people. But with a pretty solid group of singles, I was assuming that Mr. Wonderful might be Bronson's best project to date.
But the rest of the album is pretty bad. The rest of the songs can either be divided into a weird blend of cheesy, 80's pop/rock production that would fit much better into a musical than a hip-hop album, or into blues/rock songs. I don't mind the blues aspect if it was done properly, but the execution is done horribly on the album. "City Boy Blue" is a dead-up blues song, but Bronson sings on the song instead of rapping, and he is terrible at singing. "A Light in the Addict" is one of my favorite songs on the album, but only Bronson is only on one minute of the song, and the whole song is six minutes long. One of my least favorite songs is "Only In America" featuring Party Supplies. Yet again, Bronson is absent for most of the song, and is replaced by horrific hooks by Party Supplies, that sounds like the already poor vocals are being sung underwater. And besides the odd and mostly poor production choices, the album has a ton of just filler. For being only 13 songs long, there are four songs that are less than three minutes long, another song is a live intro to "Easy Rider", which is almost entirely just guitars playing in the background, and a spoken/badly sung interlude. Bronson has done a lot of experimenting on his mixtapes, with odd flows and ridiculous beats, often with good results, and has proven time and time again that he can make great songs. But instead of focusing on making a cohesive, great album, which I know Bronson can do, he made a weird collection of mostly bad tracks.
Bronson's rapping style is basically the same as it's always been, with slick word-play, but with very little substance, which is perfectly fine. The features are alright, composed of Meyhem Lauren, Big Body Bes, Party Supplies, and Chance the Rapper. They don't really add much, but the don't detract too much either, besides from Party Supplies, who after this project I really think Bronson should divorce from them. Mr. Wonderful was one of my most anticipated albums of this year, but it certainly didn't follow through on the hype. Hopefully his next album will be more focused.