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Album Review: Action Bronson – Blue Chips 700

4 min read
Photo: Tom Gould/Warner Music Australia

Former chef turned rapper Action Bronson is back with this second studio record; Blue Chips 7000. As well as hosting his own food show (Fuck That’s Delicious), the New York native also appears in his own comedy documentary – but music is how he got started and it’s good to see how his 2 year gap between albums has shaped his style.

 Never one to shy away from how much he loves to smoke, album opener Wolf Pack has a spoken word dedicated entirely to that very activity. Once the openness of the seemingly home videoed sample finishes, Bronson is surrounded by jazz styled drums straight out of NYC’s finest jazz clubs. Despite hailing from the East Coast, there is a distinct New Orleans style present throughout the record, indicative of Bronson’s travels and love of soul.

The Chairman’s Intent is heavy right from the get go, there’s no room for being humble in Bronson’s life. But then the violins kick in and the flow is disrupted if only for us to catch our breathe for a brief second. Bronson repeatedly reminds us that “you don’t even know me”, a reminder that even those familiar with his work in TV there are many unknown layers to his character. Part of Bronson’s signature style revolves around rapping about food, and Blue Chips 7000 has the potential to leave you musically satisfied but physically very hungry.

Meyhem Lauren and Jah Tiger are enlisted on Hot Pepper, which is full of Creole spice driven by a Big Apple heart. There is beauty in the opening spoken word pieces, which invite you into Bronson’s inner circle as he discovers more of his own world. From one line to the next, there is no cohesive theme, yet it’s easy to be drawn in to appreciate the mighty original style of Action Bronson. This is a man who sings about pot roasts, Aladdin and magic tricks all in one track – but when formatted against the beats the thought process sort of make sense. It’s all over the place in a way that is not contrived, it’s organised chaos in its simplest form.

My Right Lung sees Bronson wishing his breathing apparatus away in exchange for impressive basketball skills – something every young kid has done at some point. To point this out is to nail Bronson’s style as that of a big kid with no desire to lose the innocent fun of his youth. Hip hop and rap are notorious for tackling social commentary and other hard hitting issues, but it is equally as refreshing to see somebody putting the fun back into the genre. The soul backing of TANK provides one of the album’s grooviest moments, slinking along with more style than New York Fashion Week.

The tough to remember 9-24-7000 features the legendary Rick Ross, and is easily the stand out track. Blending NY lounge music with Bronson’s smooth bravado, it’s easy listening with a passion. It strikes as a put down to a rival, with Bronson listing how he’s living the good life so couldn’t care less about the haters. Enter Mr Ross, who’s dulcet tones bring the tempo down to an even more chilled out affair.

Chop Chop Chop is quite the frenetic outing, seemingly tracking the psychedelic mellow high that follows along from Bronson’s favourite smoking past time. There’s nothing wrong from telling stories about smoking weed, but eventually it becomes a personality trait that is a little laboured. We get it, you smoke weed! Durag Vs Headband unfortunately follows in similar style with Bronson bragging about how he’s “been high since he was this big”. It also brings back to the fore previous controversy surrounding Bronson and misogynistic comments, suggesting that he has yet to fully be aware of how his lyrics could contribute to problematic behaviour.

Blue Chips 7000 is more suitable for existing fans than first time listeners. It flows from the serene to the ridiculous, the backing tracks can’t be faulted for their smoothness but some of the lyrics begin to grate after a few listens. For those not sold on Bronson’s music, it may not change much but that’s not to say it’s not an enjoyable initial listen. There is such a focus on hip hop right now, but Bronson can’t quite match up to the world conquering big hitters – but something tells me he won’t be too bothered by that.