One of the first female rappers to mix up hip hop and electronic music in a modern way, Princess Superstar has two top 20s under her belt, including “Bad Babysitter” and “Perfect Exceeder” (#3 on the UK charts), and has recorded six astonishing albums. She is currently working in comedy (she just appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”) and is releasing a new song with Margaret Cho very, very soon. Princess Superstar will be launching an Indiegogo campaign for a revolutionary kids record. More info here.
(photo credit: David Yellen)
When Action Bronson first came out with his debut mixtape Dr. Lecter way back in 2011, there wasn’t much going on in the way of white rappers who could actually rap. Seeing him, it reminded me of performing on Top of the Pops back in the day in the UK with a certain Bubba Sparxxx who took off largely because even my mother would sound dope over Timbaland beats. Now here we are with this his third album and major-label debut Mr. Wonderful, and fuck, I love this guy. And not just because apparently he really is wonderful in real life: here he is throwing Ipads and Flat Screen TVs to his fans at Terminal 5 in NYC.
Action gets the crème de la crème of producers on Mr. Wonderful, including Mark Ronson, the Alchemist, Noah “40” Shebib and others. Thus this feels a lot slicker and more like a real album compared to his mixtapes like Blue Chips (2012), which, although awesome, seemed more like unfinished thoughts and ideas and him just talking random shit. The budget for this one is so large that the first song on the album, “Brand New Car,” samples “Zanzibar” by Billy Joel. (Apparently Action and producer Mark Ronson wrote to Billy Joel personally and got permission!)
But despite the big-budget approach, Action continues to go off Ghostface Killah free associative-style. But the thing about Ghost is that he is so genius and lyrically so random that if you copy him, you end up being genius yourself, because your random is gonna be different from his random, and Mr. Wonderful’s random is delicious, as seen in this line from “Brand New Car”:
“Got to the door, twist the key, elevator waitin’ for me
100, got upstairs and fixed 11 bowls of Crispix
Grabbed a Snapple out the bin, no one’s an even match for the kid
Legs are made of stone, the back of a bridge.”
Mr. Wonderful has a feel-good, summer, fuck-yeah vibe, and the party hits a high point with “Terry,” which was produced by the legendary Alchemist, and feels vintage and jazzy but with insane A Tribe Called Quest meets Kool Keith lyrics:
“Smoke good, fuck, eat, drink
Drive nice car, wear all green mink”
“City Boy Blues” sort of has a Doors-y vibe, and Action is singing instead of rapping. His voice isn’t bad on this one, and with his size and his beard you could see him getting down in New Orleans with the Neville Brothers or something. But I was still waiting for him to rip up the mic, which doesn’t really happen on this song, but then he goes off on the next track, the awesomely titled “A Light in the Addict”
“Shit, I made this out of nothin’
Damn, these ladies love me out in London
Laurenivici served the granulated onion
My mind is locked in a contaminated dungeon.”
Who else is gonna rhyme about granulated onion but this dude?
On “Baby Blue,” Action gets vulnerable and sad about an ex, which is paired marvelously with a hilarious video nodding to his Albanian roots. He sings terribly out of tune à la Biz Markie and raps about how a chick has done him wrong. But it’s Chance the Rapper who steals the song with his hilarious verse:
“I hope your dreams dry like raisins in the baking sun
I hope your titties all saggy in your early 20s
I hope there’s always snow in your driveway
I hope you never get off Fridays
And you work at a Friday’s that’s always busy on Fridays.”
I love how on Action’s cooking show Fuck, That’s Delicious, he plays tracks from the album for a fancy chef on Central Park and the Chef decides “Baby Blue” reminds him of making a risotto, because you have to “stand there naked and stir it over and over again.”
The album ends perfectly with “Easy Rider,” where Action raps over some ’70s psychedelic guitars and proclaims that he will “Put a Jacuzzi on the 7 train,” which is an awesome shout-out to the Queens native’s subway line. In the video for this song, his most expensive clip yet, he’s cast as a biker dude who takes acid and shoots a machine gun, and he seems right at home. With nearly four million views, most everyone agrees with me that Action Bronson is the shit!
Action Bronson really stands apart — physically he does, of course, in that he doesn’t look like your typical rapper — but I really mean energetically. In this self-obsessed-Kanye-as-President world that we live in, he is fun and self-deprecating and doesn’t take himself too seriously. But at the same time, he takes his rapping seriously — which is the whole key. You can’t be fun and be a bad rapper, too, that doesn’t work. Mr. Wonderful shows us that you can be down to earth and fun and sensitive and a killer rapper all in one oversized bundle of love.