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Posted on March 30th, 2015 (10:00 am) by Mark Philipp

After a series of enjoyable mixtapes and indie full-lengths from Queens native Action Bronson, Mr. Wonderful is the major label debut of the gourmet chef-turned-rapper. If you're not familiar with his work, Bronson is exactly what could be expected to happen if a husky, cuisine-obsessed lumberjack decided to pick up a microphone. He's an offbeat artist with enough mainstream flair to be accessible, but enough style taken from classic '80s and '90s artists to hold on to some backpacker cred. With all this in mind, Mr. Wonderful is a satisfying, if imperfect, release.

Bronson's songwriting relies on some off-kilter topics (namely all things food), with a bit of archetypal rapper arrogance thrown in for good measure. It's just different enough from the typical fare to be exciting to listen to, without venturing too far from the median. The rapper's lyricism is mostly solid, with some brief glimpses of brilliance (Bronson endearingly calls his mother a “lucky slut” on “The Rising”), as well as the opposite (for example, “Black magic woman put a spell on me / Fuck around and win a spelling bee” off of “Galactic Love”). It evens out, and the album maintains a consistent level, keeping listeners engaged throughout the entire excursion. The production, handled by a plethora of gifted beatsmiths, is interesting and varied, with Mr. Wonderful offering beats ranging from traditional sample-based boom bap to bluesy and guitar-heavy. Like the lyrical work, the production has some highs and lows, but is consistent enough to maintain its hold on the listener. The album is rounded out by some great guest spots that go as hard as the host artist, especially Chance the Rapper's nonchalant verse on “Baby Blue,” a track that will undoubtedly be remembered as one of Bronson's greatest moments.

Given the variation, it's definitely one of the more experimental offerings in Bronson's discography, and though the effort is appreciated (and mostly successful), Mr. Wonderful occasionally suffers from it. The album feels somewhat discombobulated. It's fun, but it's also serious. It's boisterous, but it's also self-deprecating. Each track is a perfectly working part, but when they're all put together, the machine is loose and faulty. Transitions are barely there, making a thorough listen of the album rather disjointed, a feeling that is especially present when an off-key, rambling “musical” number acts as an interlude for an agonizing two minutes. In addition, there are a couple filler tracks thrown in, and though they are few and far between, the quality throughout the rest of the album makes these less-than-stellar moments into substantial speed bumps.

Mr. Wonderful contains some of Action Bronson's most impressive work to date (even after a famous freestyle that left Funkmaster Flex astounded) and takes things in some new directions, even if it doesn't always stick the landing. There's more than enough here to satisfy both longtime and new listeners, with some clever lyrics, good energy, and worthy production. It might be a bit disjointed at times, but if you're willing to press the skip button every once in a while, Mr. Wonderful has a lot to offer.

Track Listing:

  1. Brand New Car
  2. The Rising (feat. Big Body Bes)
  3. Terry
  4. Actin Crazy
  5. Falconry (feat. Meyhem Lauren & Big Body Bes)
  6. THUG LOVE STORY 2017 THE MUSICAL (Interlude)
  7. City Boy Blues (feat. Chauncy Sherod)
  8. A Light In The Addict (feat. Party Supplies & Black Atlass)
  9. Baby Blue (feat. Chance the Rapper)
  10. Only In America (feat. Party Supplies)
  11. Galactic Love
  12. The Passage (Live from Prague)
  13. Easy Rider
Action Bronson - Mr. Wonderful Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

70 / 100
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