Although overshadowed by Lil Uzi Vert’s heavily anticipated Luv is Rage 2, Action Bronson released his sophomore project Blue Chips 7000 on August 25, 2017. An album with really little marketing, I listened to it about a week after its release date. To be honest, if I hadn’t seen an episode of Everyday Struggle where he was a guest, I wouldn’t have heard of it.
Despite it having little buzz in comparison to his breakout album Mr. Wonderful, Blue Chips 7000 is a great album full of diverse boom bap beats from the likes of Party Supplies, The Alchemist, Harry Fraud, Knxledge, and Daringer, his trademark, seamless Ghostface Killah influenced flow, and his eccentric meshing of clever wordplay and slapstick food references. Above all, the most interesting aspect of Bronson’s latest work is his character.
In this album, like Bronson’s previous works, he plays the role of the protagonist of an exploitation film, as Fantano describes in his review of the album. The album is full of machismo, materialism, and grandeur, tropes, often despicable tropes, common in hip hop. In regard to theme of materialism, it is fitting that Rick Ross is featured on the album and is likely an influence on Bronson. Despite these common, clichéd tropes, Bronson brings hyperbolic, comedic lyricism, coupled with his energetic, natural flow that makes him appear less like a braggadocios rapper and more of a quirky character. This is evident in my favorite line of the album: “On the stage I’m like Great Balls of Fire/One more year, I’ll be on Lake George retired.”
An argument for this album, though, is that Bronson doesn’t really challenge himself. He uses beats that he’s really comfortable on, and raps about the same subject matter with the same flow. Although I’m a sucker for going out of your comfort zone with each project, Bronson has a brand that works for him: exotic boom bap beats, food-references, and even a flow that rarely changes.
After listening to this album, I thought about an underrated element of MCing: personality, a trait Bronson has a lot of. Sure, you might have the tightest flow, the most interesting rhyme schemes, and jaw-dropping wordplay, but if you don’t have a personality to meld it altogether, you don’t stand out.
Practicing any art form, it’s important to study and augment your skills; however, if you aren’t putting your own twist in the process, applying what makes you unique, you make yourself unrecognizable. What would Michael Jordan be if he didn’t dunk from the free throw line with his tongue out? Likewise, what would beBronson be without his gruff, New Yorkian accent and passion for food and extravagance?
When studying the greats you can see a trend of rappers having interesting personalities: 2pac being the beleaguered “thug angel,” Biggie being a storytelling gangster, Reasonable Doubt Jay-Z being the remorseful drug dealer. Even today, Kendrick Lamar is the introspective lyricist who is determined to “murder” a rapper in battle and J. Cole is the anti-rapper who is apathetic to where he stands next to his contemporaries.
Blue Chips 7000 reminded me about the importance of having an interesting, compelling personality as a rapper. Although this album is what you expect from Bronson, these thirteen new tracks don’t bore due to Bronson’s humor, grandiose depictions, and slapstick food references.