At its core, a true rap record is one that embraces the art of storytelling, evokes tangible emotions, and leaves an erasable scuff on your psyche. In the case of Action Bronson, Mr. Wonderful covers each base and distributes a sense of authenticity that leads you to what you were searching for in the first place: Action Bronson. In about 49 minutes, the Queens emcee falls into multiple zones, entering each frame like a 1990 version of Steven Seagal – glowing with confidence, dislocating styles, and reluctantly facing the noise that comes with romance. It’s still a rapper’s rap album – hell, “Actin’ Crazy” and “Falconry” are packed with enough lines to man a rotation in a club’s bathroom stall – but it’s Bronson’s handle on miscellaneous sounds that makes Mr. Wonderful a record that’s worth talking about.
That attribute stems from his knowledge of music. In one stretch, Bronson merges ceremonious gospel hip-hop (“The Rising”) into keyed-out boom-bap (“Terry”) and in another, a classic hard rock riff (“Only In America”) eventually transitions into a Turkish, Party Supplies psych blend (“Easy Rider”). The space in between is also occupied by Bronson’s depiction of a musical piece – a bluesy three-way that finds him singing over uptempo jazz, getting introspective next to Black Atlass, and being dejected with Chance The Rapper about a girl that should never get Fridays off. It’s these narratives that make Mr. Wonderful sound like a comedy album that got left on the shelf for too long, but they’re really just illustrations that paint something real – something you can hold onto as the seasons switch.
Listen: “Terry”, “Actin Crazy”, “A Light In The Addict”, “Falconry” || Watch: “Baby Blue”