Action Bronson & Party Supplies - Blue Chips 2

It’s not the most natural fit, but Action Bronson can make sense in the context of radio-rap. His Wiz Khalifa collab “The Rockers,” for instance, does the smeary-synth thing and works on Hot 97 amidst all the 2 Chainz/Drake stuff, even if Bronson is just muttering about semi-obscure pro wrestlers on the hook. Still, this is a rapper who works best when the pressure is completely off, when he’s indulging his urges toward deep-inward free-association over thrown-together beats, never troubling himself to fit in hooks or to form his heavily referential funny-asshole tough talk. He’s at his best when there’s no pressure, when he’s free to talk shit however he feels. That shambolic, casual quality — he is, after all, the type of rapper who wears swimming trunks onstage — is what best defines Bronson. More than the food references, or the giant red beard, or the encyclopedic knowledge of peripheral 1980s sports figures, that proud-dirtbag halfassedness sets him apart and makes him special. And Blue Chips 2, in its absolute sloppiness, may be the purest thing he’s yet done.

It would be ridiculous to call Party Supplies the best producer in Bronson’s contact list. After all, Bronson has recorded entire projects with the Alchemist, a time-tested rap veteran who recently discovered his inner acid-head, and with Harry Fraud, who is presently redefining nu-fundamentalist boom-bap as bleary stoner psych. These guys are beasts, and Bronson has done great work with both of them. Compared to them, Party Supplies barely seems to be working. He finds some goofy bit of interstitial music on YouTube, maybe throws some drums under it, lazily loops it up, and calls it a day. But that defiantly unfussy quality makes Party Supplies the best producer for Bronson. Last year’s Blue Chips is the defining Bronson mixtape, and it’s also a total slapdash mess; more than once, you hear the quick blat of the Macbook volume-change sound. And if anything, Blue Chips 2 finds the two of them giving even less of a fuck.

If you’re still trying to figure out whether you like Bronson, proceed directly to “Pepe Lopez,” wherein Bronson raps about looking gorgeous in every portrait and shipping work to a mick out in Pittsburgh over the Champs’ great 1958 Latin-rock novelty stomp “Tequila.” He’s not rapping over a sample of “Tequila,” or even a slightly-altered version of “Tequila.” He’s just rapping over “Tequila,” or anyway the first minute and 43 seconds of it. It’s like you’re in the car with him, the song’s come on the radio, and he’s taken the opportunity to rhyme “suede, snake, crocodile, silk” with “barely legal Brazilian mami all on the quilt.” It’s glorious. Later on, on “Amadu Diablo,” he pulls the same trick with the intro to Tracey Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason.” “Contemporary Man” is an absolute weirdo tour-de-force, Bronson rapping over four ’80s adult contemporary radio hits in quick succession, never breaking stride when the track switches from Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” to Phil Collins’s “Sussudio.” He tells you that this tool he got will loosen up your stool a lot, and he does it over a John Mellencamp song. I’m tempted to tell Eminem fans that this is how you rap over classic-rock instrumentals, but I honestly don’t think there’s another rapper on earth who could pull off this level of deadpan absurdity. Between songs, you hear entire commercials for chain restaurants and prescription joint-pain medication, and they’re not even there so somebody can make a joke about them. They’re just there, Bronson’s TV-addict version of the kung-fu-flick dialog-clips on Wu-Tang records. The whole thing is just ridiculous.

And because the context is so utterly sloppy and randomized and deeply silly, it leads to some absolutely top-shelf Bronson lines. He lives on Michael Jackson’s anguish. He predicts the weather by the wind like an old Mayan. He’s been a degenerate, cutting ribbons with senators. He’s the novelist, he’ll barehanded choke a hippopotamus, he needs to go to Drug Dealers Anonymous. His taste in Asics will leave your fuckin’ spaceship in the matrix. His Oriental-style shirt is flapping in the wind like a bird’s wing. He’s heading toward a magical path, rhyming over African jazz, putting drugs in the crack of his ass. Grown men turn kis to cheese as he waterskis Belize. His silhouette resembles Jesus in all seasons. It’s him and Robert Horry in the foreign whip; he was born to live and fuck a lot of pussy without spawning kids. He smokes the butter, the same color as the Weeknd. He’s drinking a half-glass of cabernet on the PATH train. I could go on. He’s great. Blue Chips 2 is great.

Download Blue Chips 2 here.

Comments (18)
  1. I’m risking sounding like an out of touch idiot here (ok, full disclosure, I AM) but can someone please tell me the difference between an album and a mixtape? It seems to me just a buzzword used to signify a stopgap release or an introduction to an artist, but they all just sound like plain old albums to me. Mixtape certainly doesn’t mean what it meant when I was in high school. Was there ever a deconstructing column about this?

    • Mixtapes are free.

    • It’s practically a meaningless distinction. Some of them are meant to build an artist’s name. Some have samples that couldn’t possibly be cleared. Some are side projects, without label backing. Some are totally original, but free. And sometimes artists are particular about referring to them as “free albums” rather than mixtapes (Run the Jewels). I don’t think it matters at all, but I definitely think any project (LP, EP, Free Album, Mixtape, etc.) should qualify for the all the countdown lists at the end of the year.
      For the purposes of this column, I’m guessing that Tom generally lets the artist decide. He’s included “mixtapes” that weren’t free and didn’t include Run the Jewels, which was.

    • Mixtapes usually use samples that rappers don’t feel like negotiating the rights over which is why they can’t charge money from them.

      Traditionally, mixtapes had poor production value and acted as a median to showcase abilities from a purely vocal perspective. Recently though, we are beginning to see mixtapes rival studio LPs in production quality. This might have to do with the proliferation of digital audio workstations ,but I believe a large factor is diminished record sales across the board.

      If people aren’t going to pay for the record, why go through the process of negotiating sample rights and dishing out money for studio producers if you can just make whatever the fuck you want? Especially if there’s a surplus of kids making slick beats in their bedrooms off a bootleg Fruity Loops copy.

    • In today’s rap scene, a mixtape is largely just a free album.

      In the 90s, hip-hop mixtapes were more like actual, traditinal mixtapes, in that you had a DJ creating a mix of current hits, upcoming, unreleased singles by both label and underground artists, and freestyles. This was technically illegal, since they were selling copyrighted music, but labels put up with it since it was effectively free promotion. Mixtapes were the original music blogs, and were the fastest, most effective ways to break new songs and artists.

      This changed somewhat in the early 2000s, as you had an influx of single artist/crew mixtapes from collectives like G-Unit and Dipset that were less about the DJ and more akin to slapdash albums playing loose with copyright law. There was an entire era of (largely failed) “mixtape rappers” who had released hundreds of songs and freestyles before ever releasing major label debuts (Joe Budden, Papoose, Saigon, Uncle Murda, etc.). It was actually Budden’s 2006 Mood Muzik 2 that really began the trend of mixtapes featuring mostly if not exclusively original production and fully formed, hook-laden, radio ready songs. Mixtapes became a way for rappers to release music in an era where the label business was imploding, finished albums were sitting on the shelf for years and traditional big budget marketing and promotion only existed for the Jays and Ems of the world.

      Mixtapes in the “blog rap” era have just taken that to the extreme. On the whole, major labels don’t fuck with rap anymore, and if you’re a new artist trying to make a name, without a marketing machine behind you, you can’t realistically expect people to come to your Bandcamp page and put down money for a 7 song EP. So, you release that shit free, and if you’re lucky, some blogs pick it up, and you can go on a small tour, and maybe a street clothing brand or a liquor company will want to co-opt your coolness by paying you to make a video, or even sponsor a new mixtape, at which point the cycle begins again. There are a not insignificant number of rappers who’ve never released commercial albums but tour the world just off of succesful mixtapes.

      So basically, a modern mixtape is what would’ve been referred to in the past as a demo, except it’s publicly available, and you have to keep making them to stay relevant in the endless churn of the blogosphere. Being a rapper circa-2013 is like being a professional amateur musician.

  2. i had the exact same Eminem-related reaction to “Pepe Lopez”. also that if he’s trying to shed the Ghostface comparison once and forever stuff like “The Don’s Cheek” will do him no favors, but it still destroys, so whatever

  3. Great write-up. It’s Bronson’s slapdash nature (especially when paired with Mr. Supplies) that’s so brilliant. One of my favorite moments on the first edition of Blue Chips is when he stumbles overs he verse during 9-24-11 and then just starts it over again.

  4. Peter Gabriel into Phil Collins?

    This is some serious next level shit.

  5. I’m a huge Bronsolinio fan but I have to say this mixtape was a little dispointing you look to a Bronson/Party Supplie calabo to flip some interesting beats. I mean Taquila flipped as a rap song? Really? That’s the best you can do… also the second half of the album was filled with old stuff. These guys could have put slight more work into this project. BTW nobody here should sleep on the new Roc Mariano that dropped this morning.

  6. does anyone else absolutely hate big body bes, he is excruciating.

  7. i re-listened to “Pepe Lopez,” and it actually is a loop, the sample is just really long–it’s just the guitar riff and percussion building, and you you can hear half of the first trumpet note play and cut off first at 0:20

    i’m not sure if there are any other radio rap-along tracks elsewhere a la the first bits on “Contemporary Man.” i didn’t realize that one was so old, i knew “It’s Me” (sans full-length joint cream ad) came out last year but “CM” was recorded for and released prior to the first Blue Chips, almost two years ago. it clearly has a different sound quality, the vocals are mixed a little higher i think. and he’s in the room with Supplies–the coverage of this tape makes it sound like here they collaborated over e-mail while Bronson was touring the world, which might account for its slightly less spontaneous feel.

  8. This album is bananas. I love it.

    Has he ever done much with Rae or Ghostface? I’d love to hear him going toe to toe with those guys.

  9. Am I the only one who’s in love with this artwork? I am so sold on Action Bobson Knight.

  10. Action’s mix tape was so dope, I loved it from start to finish, anything action raps over is stellar!

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