Queens rapper Action Bronson knows his culinary delights, that’s for damn sure. As a chef-turned-emcee, he’s not above dropping names like Morimoto between references to duck prosciutto and smoked brisket.
His Well Done, an apt title if there ever was one, isn’t all food references and lip-smacking notions. Proud of his Albanian descent, Action Bronson rolls easily over production by Static Selektah and edges it with a Ghostface Killah tone.
Make no mistake, though, Action Bronson is his own man. Well Done is a proclamation of intent. As the follow-up to his digitally-released debut (and Pitchfork-adored), Dr. Lecter, this is an album that should gel his existence in the rap game.
This record also belongs to Statik Selektah, make no mistake. His interminable stockpile of beats comes to life here without a forced arrangement in the bunch. The cuts are strong and his sampling is taut and not excessive in the slightest. He knows how to step into the backdrop to let the emcee take the track where it needs to go.
What we get with Well Done, then, is a beautifully-produced record that barks with Action Bronson’s poetic facility. We get tales of the neighbourhood, of what life’s like in its rawest forms.
This approach includes its fair share of cringe-inducing lines, complete with misogynistic and homophobic content. It is the language of the streets, couched in witlessness as it sometimes can seem, and Action Bronson doesn’t hide a thing. He is at times profoundly perverse, knocking out sets of disparaging lines with ease.
What’s wise about the approach is that Action Bronson doesn’t hide from the material. He doesn’t offer up some sort of half-assed “respect” song toward the end of the album, either, and that goes a long way in presenting the whole artist.
“Respect the Mustache” boots the record off with talk of a “strange Albanian genius” and some production. He drops lyrics on everything and everyone from Sean Connery’s beard to lesbians to carpaccio. Somehow they all go together, don’t they?
“Cocoa Butter” reveals a slightly smoother side, but, like Wendy’s, our man of Action doesn’t cut corners at all. The track features sexy Nina Sky vocals and Static’s killer scratches behind the rapper’s flow. And yes, he is wily enough to drop the name of Bam Bam Bigelow. Get a look at Action Bronson and you’ll see how funny this is.
Other highlights include the Latin-flavoured “Miss Fordham Road” and “Terror Death Camp,” a guest-filled cut that is as ominous as it is rhythmic.
Fans of underground hip hop will find plenty of appetizing stuff on Well Done. It further sets Action Bronson up as one to watch (and listen to) in a world where flavourless sauce is too often served over undercooked meat.