SALUTATIONS INTERNET. Dr. Socktopus is back from the Syrian DMZ to engrave another medium-rare review on the Titanium Tablets of the Moist Graffiti. It was with great ecstasy that I recently experienced Blue Chips II, the latest mixtape from duo Action Bronson a/k/a Dr. Lecter* a/k/a Dr. Baklava a/k/a Bronsolino** and the revered Party Supplies a/k/a Justin. There’s a suitcase bomb full of grammatically questionable nonsense in that sentence, so let’s unpack it gently.
ACTION BRONSON is an Albanian born, Flushing, Queens-raised former quick-fire chef turned fire-bearded MC with the voice of Ghostface Killah and a round belly that when he laughs, shakes like a bowl full of jelly. Bronsolino is the Super Saiyan fusion of three expansive topics: New York narrative flows, 83-99′ pop culture, and modern foodie-ism. Although his lyrical strength has increased steadily since 2011’s Dr. Lecter and Well Done, the essence of his narrative is still (almost) wholly comprised of references to obscure sports figures and absurdist renditions of hip hop tropes (drugs, misogyny, speedboats, etc.), both of which are routinely sp(l)iced with culinary mixed metaphors. And that’s all right with me, because he prepares it so well that it never gets boring, E.g.:
“Poison be the flow, got the boysenberry blow
Finish on the women
That mean the bitch from Finland
Her tits are bonkers
Chilling in her chanclas
Rollers in her hair, I’m running through it, Larry Csonka” – Larry Csonka
I could provide several hundred examples similar to the above… but damn, now I just want some boysenberry bread pudding.
ASIDE: One of the central questions embattling the Unified Field Theory of Rap ™ is whether hip-hop is at its best when artists are (i) spitting bars based on real life experiences, (ii) weaving the mythology of a fictional persona, or (iii) doing both simultaneously. Those that make too much of (i) eventually run out of stories about driving down Crenshaw with a mac-10 and some ready rock, and either become static images (Pusha-T) or are forced to reinvent themselves. Re-imagining one’s image is an incredibly challenging process for all but the very ill-est, and will inevitably result in failure if taken too far (lookin’ at you Hov). The problem with (ii) is that taken to the extreme, the rap is too often utterly disingenuous. Why would one listen to blatantly false bars about being a cocaine slangin’ killer (known in the medical community as Rick Ross Syndrome), when one could enjoy the nonfiction audiobook of the same story (Z-Ro/Trae****)? That’s like beating someone’s ass over a dime bag in the bathroom of a Jason’s Deli and declaring yourself El Jefe of the Los Zetas Cartel.
IN THIS CASE, Dr. Baklava is clearly the Sun Myung Moon of the (ii) approach. It works because his personal lemon twist on it is extraordinarily specific, well-developed, and it’s never quite certain whether he wants you to believe in his super stoned, Brooklyn-analog-to-Yosemite Sam self-portrayal. It’s simultaneously compelling and utterly absurd, like those dudes who fall in love with dolls and shit. And hilarious.
ENTER PARTY SUPPLIES. In the year of our Lord 2012, Bronson teamed with Party Supplies to release Blue Chips***. Although both had previously enjoyed success individually, it became immediately apparent that together they were much more than the sum of their parts. Party Supplies’ ability to supply party beats that broke Bronson out of his NYC formalist roots was uncanny, and the mixtape was immediately dusted with panko and fried in duck fat by critics. With vintage-marinated tracks and Sound Blaster 16-quality production, it was as if the music was emanating directly from Bronson’s pan-seared imagination. It was awesome. Needless to say, when the below teaser trailer was released, the internet was once again engulfed in flames:
YES, YOU ARE CORRECT. The teaser trailer for Blue Chips II is a retelling of Game 7 of the 1995 East Conference Semi-Finals, wherein Bronson fixing the game was the actual reason that Patrick Ewing missed that finger-roll layup. Who thinks of this shit, b? I remember seeing the game at age 9, putting down my grilled cheese, and being like “Dad why does Patrick Ewing suck?” and him bein’ like “Didn’t I just tell you to shutup boy!? I had your college fund ridin’ on this game!” I mean this whole mixtape could have sucked dicks behind a Blockbuster (RIP) for money and people would still remember the trailer in ten years.
FORTUNATELY, Blue Chips II delivers the same exquisite flavor profile as the first installment. “Silverado” comes straight out the gate with a looped sample from Elton John’s “Island Girl.” Bronson drops epic disses to all who might oppose him, e.g. “It’s time to take those leather pants off, this ain’t no dance off; I know your hands soft, you’re on the menu like the lamb broth; This is a grown man’s sport; And, dog, I leave a motherfucker laid out on the handball court.” Throughout the album, stanzas like this create mini-montages where invariably (a) someone is getting their ass kicked by Bronson’s henchmen in an exotic locale, (b) he’s getting cooking a 5-star dish in a trailer in Queens, and/or (c) all while a washed up WWF/NBA/NFL/MLB star watches on and nods his approval. Oh yeah, and (d) everyone is super blazed.
AFTER A BRIEF INTERLUDE, we get to “Pepe Lopez,” an up-tempo joint rapped over The Champs’ “Tequila.” You know, that song from that scene from The Sandlot where the kids drink 40s, smoke a ton of kill, and end up puking everywhere? Yeah, that one b. The best part is that it’s not even a sample– it’s the exact track to a T. Some critics who get way less toppington than their insecurities require have critiqued Party Supplies for being a little lazy on the beats for this album, but they’re just jelly. They oughta recall the wisdom of Lao Tzu***** before throwin’ shade at Supplies for finding a beat that needed no adjustment to be the perfect vehicle for Bronsolino’s magic show.
SPEAKING OF RIDICULOUSNESS-NESS, please see the above video for “Contemporary Man” and press play when you’re ready to be bamboozled. Again I must query, who thinks of this shit b? By rapping over not just the incredible “Sledgehammer,” which I could have listened to six minutes of alone, not one but TWO Phil Collins joints, and “Jack and Diane,” Bronson opens a portal to 1989, climbs in, and stages the ill-est karaoke scene that year not involving Billy Crystal. Again, Supplies doesn’t even bother to sample or loop the tracks, leaving them in a linear mash-up worthy of a Glee episode.
MUCH LIKE BLUE CHIPS I, with Party Supplies on deck Bronson is free to paint the rowdiest fresco of his leather-suit wearing, salmon smoking persona yet, which is a welcome change from his darker musings with Harry Fraud on Saab Stories and The Alchemist on Rare Chandeliers. Once someone has released a rap mixtape entitled Bon Appetit, Bitch, it’s difficult to be serious after that, which is something I suspect Bronsolino has realized since 2011. I hate to say it, but one wonders if the Blue Chips mini-franchise represents the best projection of his narrative possible, and everything after will inevitably be a sugar-free, low-fat, and without the uncut Colombian creativity that powers these tracks.
So yeah. Let’s hope not, but even if it’s true, there’s always room for Blue Chips III: Bronsolino’s Revenge.
Moist Graffiti Rating
Beats: Party Supplies’s selections are incredible for Bronson’s style: 88.301
Flows: It’s pure Bronsolino of the highest order. Drugs. Females. Food. 1980.: 72.119
Brilliant nostalgia beats: +3
Equally brilliant album backstory: +2
MG Rating: 85.420
This Thanksgiving we of the Graven Grimoires of the Moist Graffiti are thankful as fuck for your readership. Stay fresh until next week, wherein I will turn a gravy-drunk eye on Devonte Hynes’s most recent effort.
*It’s about time Schnitzel B. and myself invented a long string of ridiculous hip-hop nicknames. I gotta practice tho. Ahem– YO it’s Dr. Socktopus a/k/a Sock 3:16 a/k/a The Genie Rocktopus a/k/a Sock-Rock Hudson a/k/a Sock-Rock-Obama. Ugh, I think I’m too sober for this.
**If Bronsolino (pronounced Brawn-Celine-YO) were a dish it would be a bowl of Cavatappi tossed with purple basil pesto and seared Hen of the Woods mushrooms, and then finished with a drizzle of Moroccan hash oil.
***It’s worth noting that the title itself, a reference to the (now obscure) 1994 college basketball movie starring Nick Nolte, perfectly encapsulated Bronson’s narrative obsessions.
****(Cough) Moist Graffiti pro-Styrofoam City-bias (cough).
****** “True wisdom seems foolish. True art seems artless.” – Tao Te Ching