The Ghostface Killah comparisons that have followed Action Bronson ever since he hit the national radar with this spring’s breakbeat-fueled digital release, Dr. Lecter, are reasonable, but ultimately lazy. While the two emcees’ vocal similarities are uncanny, and their colorful personalities bloom from the same twisted tree, Bronson’s Anthony Bourdain meets Kool G. Rap lyrical approach is unique and virtually impossible to categorize. Linking up with Statik Selektah (he of the collaboration albums with Saigon, Freeway and Termanology), Bronsolini chefs up 15 tracks of 1080p vivid imagery and Ric Flair level braggadocio over dynamic production that remains cohesive as the menu at a three Michelin starred restaurant.
The smoothed out vibe of the album’s opener, “Respect The Mustache,” fits with Bronson’s nonstop tough talk like a cashmere sock in a steel-toe boot. This is real “curses in cursive” shit, and it works well. “Time For Some,” featuring M.O.P.’s Lil’ Fame on the hook, has an unbelievably busy beat, but is anchored by Bronsolini getting unbelievably busy. Herald horns, organs, vocal scratches and stuttering snares on the hook are tempered by the Queens, NY native handling Statik’s subdued keys like a German engineered sedan.
If nothing else, Statik Selektah should be commended for bringing the horns back to Hip-Hop. Jazzy trumpets, smoky sax riffs and bright brassy blasts are all over the album. They’re used to great effect on the Nina Sky-featured “Cocoa Butter,” which is just as smooth as its namesake, and on the soul searching “The Rainmaker.” Not so much on “Keep Off The Grass.” Either the repetitive stabs or the vocal sample would work fine alone, but together they draw attention away from Bronson’s strong lyrical performance.
Thankfully, Statik proves to be far from a one-trick pony, and saves his best work for the sinister posse cut, “Terror Death Camp.” Hip-Hop’s Bam Bam Bigelow leads off with one the album’s best verses , Meyhem Lauren and Ag The Coroner both man the corners with classic NY griminess, but weaker sonic offerings from Statik Selektah like “Cliff Notes” and the “Stick Up” don’t hold up to the album’s frequent highs. Not unlike a masterfully prepared meal, Bronson and Statik make use of techniques that nod to the past, while remaining focused on the future in terms of style and presentation. Well Done is a excellent effort by an emcee who is just beginning to build his catalog and a producer who is starting to come into his own.
Label: Switchblade/DCide Records | Producers: Statik Selektah