(Photo: Atlantic Records)
Even without an album, Action Bronson has quickly become one of hip hop's biggest (no pun intended) up-and-coming stars.
The New York MC with the piercing voice is as imposing verbally as he is physically, and on his fifth mixtape, he continues to establish himself as more than just a cypher superstar, showing better songwriting ability than on some of his previous works.
Blue Chips 2 features different styles but is mostly a refreshing return to the '90s New York sound that birthed some of hip hop's biggest stars like Jay Z and Nas. Jazzy undertones, heavy keys and a small dose of funk helmed by producer Party Supplies gives the tape a darkness that captures the Big Apple's heartbeat like a photo of the skyline.
The mix starts out with "Jackson Travolta," a rock-tinged tale of drug-infused nights and paper-chasing. "Fast money 'til we die, peep the resume/Hang gliding to the boat, get the cheddar notes/Keep the shorty in the leather coat/ Muthaf---a better know," raps Bronson.
The boastful big man then got down with TDE's Ab-Soul for "Through the Eyes of a G," which basically chopped and screwed The Pharcyde's breakthrough hit "Passin' Me By" to create a solid, notably darker track.
And the bearded bruiser came with a little more action on "Contemporary Man," which fuses multiple '80s pop and adult contemporary classics, using the original artist to segue from one to the next. For his part, Bronson offered his signature shock value with rhymes like, "I'm a wild freak/Hit shorty where the child sleep/While her mother makes soup with the cow feet."
Though most of the beats were on the slower tip, "In the City," which featured a funk-driven hook by Jeff Woods, highlighted his ability to rock a more dynamic and uptempo track.
Mac Miller, who recently dropped a mixtape of his own, came through on "Twin Peugots," a flossed out ode to the material rewards that come with murdering ink. Bronson channeled his inner Jadakiss with vivid descriptions like "The 540i, the color salmon" and "Brown vest made of suede on my torso."
One of the mixtape's other standouts, "Man the Mirror," features similar braggadocio with rhymes like, "The b-----s they think I'm attractive, that means I'm sexually active/Hang out with actors and chefs, Gray beamer swing the left/BBS's flip out the roof, land in the split, handle my s--t/Straight from Flushing Queens where them hammers get gripped/A fiend'll suck ya d--k for a gram of the sniff" rapped over a beat that favors Jay Z's "Politics as Usual."
Blue Chips 2 wound down on a high note with songs like "Amadu Diablo" and "Rolling Thunder" — both of which used soulful samples to add just the right contrast to Bronson's verbal ferocity — despite "It's Me," which was backed by a strong, island-tinged xylophone and subtle horns and the overtly basic "I Adore You," the tape's only real misses.
As a whole, Blue Chips 2 was consistent, but Bronson didn't step too far outside of his comfort zone. Instead, it's a perfect tease to get the fans ready for Bronson's Vice Records full-length debut.