Ryan Meaney knows Blue Chips is an underrated Friedkin flick.
When Action Bronson dropped Blue Chips in early 2012, his landmark mixtape with sampling virtuoso Party Supplies, he was the rapper who used to be a professional chef. The Flushing, Queens native held the magic pen that could connect Steve Wynn with Jerry Sandusky all while reminding you how god damn gorgeous he is (like a young John Kennedy, no less).
His one liners came straight form the stratosphere and dropped liked bombs, landing punchline after punchline, backing you into a corner before you were forced to rewind and make sure you got every word. All the while his ear for beats seemed unmatched; YouTube ripped samples made the tape sound cheap yet raw, like something being hawked in Times Square. Blue Chips 2 only augmented these strengths, and Bronson was soon the New York rapper everyone needed to take notice of.
In hearing Bronson behind the mic and during candid interviews, you knew that his personality was too big to be left in the cramped corners of a studio. The man has a personality larger than the five boroughs, a smile and magnetism that is impossible to ignore. His growing status as a rapper along with his boisterous persona had major labels and television calling, and soon Bam Bam was seemingly everywhere.
Vice’s Fuck, That’s Delicious saw Bronson traveling the world, smoking his way through the finest restaurants and vineyards. Mr. Wonderful, his major label debut, was a trip through the prolific career and sounds he had experimented with previously, but it had the sound of something missing, perhaps even a bit hollow. Was Bronsalino now a celebrity chef who happened to rap?
Blue Chips 7000, Action’s second record with Vice/Atlantic, aims to squash any and all question as to what the fiery tongued Albanian can do with a mic. Over thirteen tracks Bronson takes us on a journey through the mind of one of the sharpest, wittiest lyricists in the game today, with barely a breath to be caught. The images he can portray bar by bar are some of the prettiest, grossest, most head-numbingly hilarious in hip-hop, and he does so such sincerity that you wonder if you’ve missed the joke completely.
Opening track “Wolfpack” finds Bronson smoking up his own mother, goading her into confessing how truly messed up she is. This is Action at his most Action; a gentle, lovable giant who is perhaps his most endearing when he’s fucking with you.
The record contains some of Bam Bam’s drollest one-liners to date, pop culture digs so deep it is best to keep Wikipedia open while you listen. “Wolfpack” sees Bronson singing Erykah Badu’s sweet siren call to Tyrone before quickly trolling both your weak blunt size and Kevin Hart’s arms all in one line. “Hot Pepper” contains perhaps the perfect amalgam of an Action Bronson bar when he raps “Address the jury in a Shaq jersey (black one)/This is one night only, Dragon vs. Phoenix/I think I’ll fuck around and throw Aladdin on the remix.”
At this point in his career, listeners know what to expect from Bronson and the realms his music takes them. He’s eating shellfish at high altitudes, laying naked on lavish sheets, and smoking out of pieces that cost just south of six figures. But the unapologetic absurdity with which Bronson toys with the English language is equal parts ridiculous and genius; he understands how to stretch his rhymes so they are received with dropped jaws, both out of relative disgust and amazement.
The production is directly in Bronson’s wheelhouse and follows in perfect succession with the sounds of the previous Blue Chips. With production from close collaborators Harry Fraud, Alchemist, Knxwledge, Daringer, and of course Party Supplies, Blue Chips 7000 takes listeners on a unique journey through genre and style that could only be found on an Action Bronson project. He works best in quick, tight spaces where the samples tell as much of the story as he does. Bronson has a refined ear that is able to grab the groove and glide over it like he’s riding a wave runner (probably shirtless).
This is no better personified than on “La Luna.” Part hip-hop skit, part jazz lounge act, the track begins with Bronson asking for a ride to the Garden from La Luna car service. While on hold, grainy elevator music fills the speaker as Bronson becomes inspired. The living room freestyle morphs into a full-fledged track, where Alchemist brings the on-hold music to life with a full band of sharp keys and up-tempo bass. The man who was born wearing Timbs soars over the beat with the deft precision we have come to expect from none other than the Don Dada.
All of this comes to fruition beautifully on “TANK,” the centerpiece of Blue Chips 7000 and a perfect encapsulation of the entire Blue Chips series. Over a sputtering ’70s rock sample, Bronson brags and boasts at his most vivacious. “I’m on the plane to Russia with a hard dick and a tank top from Target/Why this blunt taste like Starburst?/And why your girl cheating on you with a player from the San Diego Chargers?,” is a line that could only come from the mind of Bronson; something so absurd and out of left field that you’re not sure if you should be giving him daps or squaring to fight.
Action Bronson is the new age polymath, an artist so in tune with his creative voice that he can’t help but succeed. He’ll cook you a picture perfect chicken parm in a Tony Starks jersey while doing the splits spitting like Supreme Clientele Ghostface. Blue Chips 7000 is a seamless closer to one of the best mixtape series of the ‘10s, a look into a side of New York braggadocio that only he could provide. He’s part Kool G Rap, part Guy Fieri, part Olympic diver mixed with Willie Dynamite. He’s a chef, a rapper, and a television star with total media domination in his sights. With the personality and talent to match his ubiquitous self-assurance, there is no avenue that Action Bronson can’t dominate.