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.