A glimpse at the track list of Blue Chips 2 is deceiving: at 19 records deep, Action Bronson and producer Party Supplies first seem to have overindulged. To play on one of the song titles, it is concerning when any artist releases a body of work that exceeds a certain length, foreshadowing an imprecision that taints the work and hinders its achievable success and consistency. Though not always the case, a number of recent projects did not rise to their full potential because of an overpacked track list. Artists of all levels, from Asher Roth to J. Cole and Tech N9ne, encountered this issue in 2013.
Frankly, Bronsolino could not care less about the trends that plague other rappers, so it comes as no surprise that he all-together avoids such a dilemma. These 19 songs only last a mere 53 minutes, and an impressive majority of those 53 minutes are compiled of high-caliber entertainment delivered by none other than Action himself (and Supplies. No forgetting Supplies). Particularly during the opening stretch of four or five songs, a media-transcending phenomenon stomps out all possibilities of boredom. It’s not just music here: there lies a reach for something grander.
Uncommonly referred to as the “Bronson Effect,” the succession of songs blend so extensively with various facets of pop and niche culture that nothing less than a genius chemistry experiment depending on two elements could claim accountability: AB plus PS yields BC2. References include Sinbad, the psychologist Timothy Leary, Nintendo, Asics footwear, golfer Greg Norman and about a hundred others. Rarely is there a shortage of action-packed, food-scented raps backed by original, soulful beats. Together, this duo has gained the fandom and trust of thousands upon thousands of listeners, and why would they not? Few boast the same combination of sampling acuity, skillfully delivered and culturally encompassing lyrics, and enjoyable production value which rivals that of a television show. Always a descriptive artist, Bronson injects an undeniable cinematic presence into his verses.
The fantastic, Japanese-funk sampling record “The Don’s Cheek” carries an air of mafioso mentality, matched seamlessly with the power captured by the vocals: “Catch me on Venice Beach working on my base, no blonde streak/ Swimming trunk, 30K in arm’s reach/ I’m on the boat, in the water like a swan’s feet/ To show respect you kiss both sides of the Don’s cheek.” Like other Bronson projects, not much time will pass on Blue Chips 2 before some hilarious, fun-to-say line surfaces. Just in the same song, he cheats off of a Chinese kid “like a school test,” visits a handball court and compares the whiteness of his cocaine to comedian David Spade’s pale skin. If statistics that tracked the ability of a rapper to make a writer wish he/she could write “lololol” in a review existed, the former professional chef from Queens might lead the pack. Humorous and gritty lines pervade each and every song until they gradually become the same entity. Bronson’s well told mini-tales of crime life take on a position of mockery, and the resultant world the listener dives into is a positive one.
Structurally, the tape is built to move with a certain edge and quickness. The two-minute opener, “Silverado”, builds around a single verse and a tremendous loop, then “Pepe Lopez” follows with a nearly identical formula. Later, “Amadu Diablo” (which sees Supplies fabulously sampling Tracy Chapman) and “Man & The Mirror” create the same effect. These short, high-energy ‘burst songs’ also alleviate the rare moments in which Blue Chips 2 falls. Several of the features are lackluster, as Retchy P assumes the role of an obnoxious commercial in a strictly Bronson/Supplies marathon on “Flip Ya”. Even Ab-Soul offers nothing beyond forgettable, but the mistakes themselves are forgotten when the main attraction hops back on the mic.
A Blue Chips 2 television series would be as enticing as the lamb broth mentioned in “Silverado”. Bronson and Supplies are at their best when the beats are uptempo, the lyrics are quirky and all possible cultural reference are at the mercy of the emcee. In a week otherwise dominated by Eminem, the Action Bronson Show (executively produced by Party Supplies) already has us asking for an encore.