I have to say, that album cover is both fucking terrible and the most awesome I've ever posted on this blog. I'm still not even convinced that it's real: I'm pretty sure that somebody just typed some words onto a screen grab from a direct-to-DVD action flick shot in eastern Romania, which doubled for Toronto, and a cropped-out Vince McMahon is probably somewhere in the background beating an extra to death with a baby seal.
Action Bronson, the current owner of the most badass moniker in hip hop, has been firmly planted in the New York hip hop underground scene for a couple of years now, impressing listeners and critics with his cameo appearances and solo tracks, all of which showcase a flow reminiscent of Ghostface Killah, although Bronson's fascination with food makes a lot more sense when you discover that he holds a day job as a chef at a Pakistani restaurant in Queens. (He's even attended culinary school and is the son of a baker and restaurant owner, so this cooking stuff is something he's actually really fucking good at.) He's even made a couple of appearances on this blog already: earlier this month, he popped up during a review of Apathy's Honkey Kong, and he even scored a guest spot alongside Termanology and, surprise surprise, Ghostface himself on the Wu's not-really-a-Wu-Tang Clan-album Legendary Weapons. He impressed me more on the latter work than on the former, but the guy shouldn't be counted out on that alone.
Action Bronson is supposed to have a joint project with producer Statik Selektah hit virtual store shelves later this month, and his full-length debut, Dr. Lecter, was released earlier this year. The subject of today's post, the EP The Program, was released before all of that happened, though, which is why I'm starting here. Also, because it's only four tracks long. The Program finds Bronson teaming up with producer Don Producci to give his growing fanbase a few scraps while he finished setting up his actual albums.
Will The Program make you seek out the rest of Action Bronson's discography? Let's find out.
1. BACK 2 THE FUTURE
Bronson rocks over three separate instrumentals on here, one of which cribs directly from the theme song to The Jetsons, which may help explain why this project was released as a free download. Our host comes across as having a combination of both Ghostface's flow and Chef Raekwon's highly specific storytelling abilities: although there isn't much of an actual tale to tell on here, the attention paid to even the most minute of details is appreciated. As a song, there is no structure here at all: this just sounds like three freestyles strung together. But two of the three beats given to us by Don Producci are actually really fucking good. No real complaints here.
2. MR. SONGWRITER
Our host kind of loses his shit in a pretty funny manner toward the end, when he cycles through a ridiculous number of alternate aliases, almost as though he was saying everything that came to mind out loud and then finally settling on 'Action Bronson' because he wasn't fully sold on the nickname until just that second. I hate comparing Action Bronson to Ghostface Killah because it seems like that theme could easily dominate a write-up, but it's impossible to ignore the similarities in their respective flows: shit, thanks to Don Producci's sampling of a fucking Connie Stevens song that inspired this track's name, "Mr. Songwriter" even sounds like a Pretty Toney outtake. So it's a good thing that it's entertaining: Bronson feels like a natural behind the mic, and he couldn't sound more comfortable right now even if he were recording this song while seated in a leather chair while getting serviced by two Victoria's Secret models.
3. DANCE SONG
Also formatted like a certain someone's earlier work, but I pin the blame solely on the producer this time around, as Bronson had no other choice but to follow the same formula when presented with this kind of shit. "Dance Song" isn't bad by any means, though, and our host attempts to make it his own, with varying degrees of success. It's the highest form of compliment that I can give a song such as this when I write that you will not want to actually dance to it, as you will be too busy focusing on Bronson's lyrics.
4. AMUSE BOUCHE
The final track on The Program is a two-verse appetizer (indeed, the title is a French phrase for a free tidbit provided to you to whet your palate while waiting for the first course of the meal), featuring Action Bronson catching a bit of wreck over a surprisingly dope Producci instrumental. The bars aren't particularly memorable, but these four songs aren't meant to be our host's mission statement: they're intended solely to pique your interest in a follow-up. Well done, sir.
THE LAST WORD: Action Bronson's The Program is actually really fucking good. Don Producci proves himself to be an great choice for a collaborator, as he supplies our host with four excellent instrumentals, and Bronson himself tears at each one like a starving artist eating one of his paintings that he was unable to sell. It's incredibly difficult to divorce Bronson from the Ghostface Killah comparisons, but there are many worse artists out there that he could sound like, so I don't think of that as much of a problem. Besides, I like Ghostface Killah, and I know that a bunch of you two do as well, even if you actively ignore the multiple Wu-Tang posts on this blog. Anyway, The Program is only a quick Google search away and is well worth your time and the minimal space on your hard drive. Action Bronson sounds pretty good on here, providing four very fucking entertaining tracks to keep us going until the next hit. You two need to get on this.