Review: "Blue Chips 7000"
“You looking at some motherf—ing art, boo.”
Imagine cruising through Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, New York… just under the 7-train line.
The obnoxious roar of the locomotive silences the area, as well as the playlist you’re mixing via an aux cord. For ten seconds, you’re rendered helpless to the city’s vibration. Although you might be hungry when you spot the savory empanada stands and food trucks that serve tostadas and gorditas in your side-eye, just don’t expect the homey to pull over.
Once you’ve taken in the sights, the madness, the smells, the cultures, and the genuine inner-beauty of the borough, hit play on Action Bronson’s latest album Blue Chips 7000.
“Just tell me how high you are,” Bronson softly commands a woman in the opening seconds of Blue Chips 7000. Produced by series veteran Party Supplies, “Wolfpack” properly kicks off the album with a bodega-laced vibe that old man Quiles would have played had Bishop not, you know, killed him. Bronson’s wild thoughts are on complete display with swift topical changes that play like a rap “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” From rocking “Puerto Rican Air Force Ones at the wedding” to taking jabs at folks who “smoke little blunts like Kevin Hart’s arms,” the song is a reminder that when Bam Bam is on the mic, you should always expect the unexpected.
Returning to his beloved Blue Chips (his blue heaven) series for his sophomore effort, Bronsolino swan dives down thirteen tracks of absolute ridiculous ridiculousness that feels right at home with the previous entries in his catalog.
Despite the mixtapes being a sole collaboration between Bronson and Party, the album features the sounds of The Alchemist, Knxwledge, Harry Fraud, and Daringer, perhaps best known for his work with Westside Gunn and Conway (“Dunks” is an amazing record to rock some Timbs to, just saying). The combined forces of the named beat smiths help to design an international soundscape with a New York heartbeat combined with the absurdity of a team-up between Black Dynamite and Dos Equis’ original Most Interesting Man character. Bronson’s lyrical prowess shows his ability to command any beat he’s rhyming on even if he’s not setting out to destroy the record. His stylistic choice of flowing, over what seems like anything, without effort helps the album’s 38-minute runtime feel like a breeze.
Uncle Al’s “La Luna” accentuates Bronson’s penchant for eclectic beats as he randomly begins to freestyle over the call-hold music of La Luna Luxury Car Service. “Asian shooter with the blonde hair/ Street Fighter character/ Fuck around and suplex ’em through the salad bar,” he spits. While fashionably Bronson, it doesn’t connect to anything else in the song in terms of rhyme scheme. But it is this song that the entirety of the trilogy actually makes sense, and I’ll explain.
William Friedkin’s 1994 film “Blue Chips,” which Bronson has deemed as one of his favorite movies, starred Nick Nolte and Shaquille O’Neal. The premise of the film revolves around the broken system of college basketball recruitment and Western University Dolphins coach Pete Bell’s despair in searching for young talent to lead his team and boost his flat lining career. Following a moment of truth from the troubled Bell, admitting some of his ill-conceived practices to his team, Shaq’s Neon Boudeaux steps out of the locker room and asks his coach, with marvelous innocence and great sincerity, “did you like my spin move?”
That’s Action Bronson’s Blue Chips in a nutshell.
A majority of the record finds Action Bronson standing front-and-center with only two guest verses provided by frequent collaborator Meyhem Lauren and Chips newcomer Rick Ross. The presence of the emcees is very welcoming and proves to be a rare moment where Bronson is actually upstaged in the zany world he’s created.
On “Hot Pepper,” a joint on behalf of Knxwledge, Brons reteams with Lauren and Jah Tiger following their previous cut, “Mr. 2 Face,” for another Caribbean-flavored banger. While you shouldn’t ignore lines such as “I’m unexplained like a lot of things” and the side-splitting “They thought Body was Bruce Willis in Morocco,” not to mention the “Bruce Willis, Bruce Willis” ad-libs from Bronson, Lauren is the true victor in this cage match. “Take a look at my life, ’cause I’m historical/ You the type to compliment a Rollie at the urinal,” he raps. “I’m the type to look up continents and then explore a few.” The aggressive declaration of his glow up is great enough to shape believers out of casual listeners. The verse is definitely a contender for one the year’s hardest. That’s right, Kendrick and Hov left some space for the other guys. Honestly, Ghostface Killah would have made for a splendid addition since that Jesus piece from ’94 is most certainly a scene stealer. Nonetheless, the song is a highlight within the trilogy.
As Old Man Ebro so eloquently stated on Hot 97, the Rick Ross-featured “9-24-7000” is 3 ½ minutes of “fatboy flamboyancy.” It’s an incredible moment hearing these two each be the best emcee by their own standards while blending so well, and simultaneously managing not to get in the other’s way. Bronson’s reference game is as cool as ever, noting “If I didn’t say ‘it’s me,’ you would probably think it’s Sting,” but not before comparing himself to either Kevin Spacey or Ruben Blades. It’s safe to say the choice is yours. Bronson’s mid-record swim (complete with a splash) is important to Ross’ introduction. Ten tracks in, with Bronson on cruise control at this point, the record is in well-enough hands with the Bawse, who’s in prime form, assuring “young A.B., I got this. You dig?” Over Harry Fraud production, Ross (err, Renzel) two-steps on Frank Lucas’ club soda-blotted alpaca rug, donning Dave Chappelle’s reversible white panda/bald eagle coat, during his verse. It’s exaggerative surely, but when Ross is in his element, he’s incredibly indestructible. I mean, he gave us Teflon Don, do you expect less?
*Stray observation: Bronson’s departing splash is reminiscent of Domo Genesis and Tyler, the Creator’s grocery store escape on “Supermarket.”
Blue Chips 7000 excels as the culmination of Action Bronson’s rap career. It’s a natural next step in his musical evolution… a place he’s more than comfortable living in, but not too far away from the reason his fans love him in the first place. Everything in his content and delivery suggest that Bronson will forever be a larger-than-life persona that raps because he f—ing loves to rap. Sometimes there aren’t any deeper layers than what is provided in front of you and that’s a contributing factor in why his music is enjoyable. We all know that one guy who’s begging for more, but plain and simple Bronson delivers fantastic music to groove to.