White Bronco: A Ranking of Songs from A Day-One Fan / by Noor Kalouti

White Bronco

Action Bronson, 2018

For those of you that have kept up with the blog, you know I’ve been anticipating White Bronco since Action Bronson announced its release date alongside the debut of its titular track. This is his first independent project since he left Atlantic Records, and I bet you he put a great deal of weight on this 26-minute project. He even designed the cover-art himself!

First, I’m sad to say that I’m disappointed. Bronson teased towards this release with two solid (yet predictable) tracks, “White Bronco” and “Prince Charming”, both of which I reviewed. I was expecting more innovation with this project based on those two releases. I’ve been a fan since 2011, and at the time Bronson was an aspiring rapper/chef who could rap with exquisite detail about food—this made him stand out. His production choices, as well, have always been authentic and classy, and thankfully he maintains that through this album, but unfortunately doesn’t do anything new.

With that said, Action Bronson is still one of my all-time favorites and there is a lot of good music on this album. His bad albums are better than a lot of rappers’ best albums. It’s entirely subjective; his music is easy for me to enjoy since I already like that old-school, jazzy, free-form hip-hop that has helped define Bronson’s sound. I’m only disappointed because I was hoping that independence from Atlantic would give him the space to explore a new style. I’ve ranked my favorite songs on the album, and essentially re-arranged it to my liking. I hope you enjoy the gallery of pictures I’ve curated to show you the rare bird that is Action Bronson.

I’d love to hear if you agree/disagree with this order, so comment people!

1. White Bronco

How predictable, I know, but there’s a reason this song is the headlining track. “White Bronco” was cut by producer Daringer with help from Bronson’s live band, the Special Victims Unit. I’ve reviewed this song before, check it out here.

2.  Dr. Kimble

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White Bronco opens with “Dr. Kimble”, a laid-back track where Bronson raps about the glamour of his jet-set lifestyle. The song kicks off with that staple horse neigh, which I guess is THE White Bronco, and it’s featured on every song of the album. This track is produced by one of his long-time cohorts, Harry Fraud; I really like Fraud’s production on this song, it’s squeaky-clean.
On the rest of the album, Bronson works with a variety of producers, which I think affects the overall cohesiveness of the project negatively.

3. Mt. Etna

I love the opening of this song and how seamlessly we’re introduced to that groovy bassline—I never saw it coming. This track is also produced by Daringer, who I think does a better job here on “Mt. Etna” than on “White Bronco.” Bronson’s opening line has so much pizzazz, this song is so emblematic of his brand, and I love it.

3. Picasso’s Ear

I was debating putting this below “Prince Charming” but I love Bronson’s flow so much more on this track. My favorite quality of Bronson’s is how he converses in his songs; he’s his own hype man (like the opening lyric “who could it be? “it’s me!”). He keeps us engaged through these self-affirming ad-libs and I love how quirky and sincere they are. This track is also produced by Knxwledge, who never disappoints. Check out the next song.

4. Prince Charming

I also reviewed this track when it dropped in October. It’s my favorite collaboration on the album—Knxwledge is an incredible producer who seems to work seamlessly with any rapper, including Bronson. I particularly love that 60’s doo-wop sounding sample and the fact that Action Bronson has finally found love (apparently).

Favorite line is “My sex stories ain’t suitable for listeners, causes prisoners to wack off… enough of that soft shit”. How romantic, Bam Bam.

 

There isn’t much to criticize nor compliment on this track, Bronson does his thing and he does it well, but nothing new. A notable moment is Bronson’s silly gibberish at the start (0:09-0:17). It’s nice to hear him having fun during these recordings and there are several moments like this one throughout the album. This track is produced by Party Supplies, .  


I should say: I feel varying degrees of ‘meh-ness’ for most songs after this point, so excuse the grumpy tone


Meyhem, what a guy! I discovered him through his collaborations with Bronson and Statik Selektah. He’s unapologetic, has an even grittier sound than Bronson’s, and complements any track they unite on (sometimes they even sound like one another!). I actually prefer his verse over Bronson’s on this, he merges with the psychedelic rock demeanor with little friction while Bronson, despite having visited this genre before, doesn’t suit it very well here.

Produced by Party Supplies, I like the world-building they do on this track. They end the piece with what sounds like a cowboy showdown: pistols shooting, people screaming, and then singing—it actually sounds like we’re in a saloon. With that said, I would have liked a longer musical section.

8. Ring Ring (Ft. Big Body Bes)

This is an easy-listening song, I’d comfortably let it play in the background in most situations. It has no jarring moments and none of the intense samples you’d hear on tracks like “Telemundo” or “Brutal.” I’m not even sure why Big Body Bes is featured in the first place as his only purpose is to perform the brief and simple refrain “Machine gun money!”

Produced by Harry Fraud, all in all, I’m okay with this song but not ecstatic.


9. Telemundo

This song reminds me of Bronson’s single “Easy Rider” which he dropped in 2014. They both have this psychedelic rock, ride or die aesthetic. “Telemundo” is produced by Samiyam, aka Sam Baker, who’s worked with Bronson on Mr. Wonderful (he definitely does a better job on Mr. Wonderful than White Bronco).

One has to get past Samiyam’s creepy opening; a sample of YouTube powerlifter Kyriakos Grizzly’s 3x360kg Zercher front raise, when devoid of context, sounds like someone is just screaming at the top of their lungs in an empty warehouse. Honestly, this might be the most experimental moment of the album and I don’t hate the decision to include it, but I’m curious why, and if that’s Bronson screaming.

The placement of this song is just unfortunate, it sounds like it should be on a different album altogether. It’s sandwiched between two very silky tunes: “Prince Charming” and “Picasso’s Ear”, but the contrast between “Prince Charming” and “Telemundo” is uncomfortable and jarring.

Also, Bronson’s lyrics are mediocre at best. He’s really underselling himself with lines like “about to get this paper like Judge Judy/Told my baby, ‘Come do me’/All these drugs just run through me”. Come on, Bam Bam. I know you’re better than this.

10. Live from the Moon (ft. Yung Mehico)

Also meh, not because of Bronson this time, but because of Knxwledge. I know I said he never disappoints—I was wrong. I understand what he was trying to achieve through that sentimental sample looping throughout the song, but I find it off-putting. I appreciate the stage he sets with it though; creating an environment where Bronson is a kind of storyteller, reminiscing I guess, but his lyrics don’t have much depth here. I begin to enjoy the song when I hear the saxophone, it’s smooth and seductive (like most sax solos), but I wish it was somehow introduced earlier.

 

I bet you this is also Bronson’s least favorite song—it sounds nothing like him. It feels like he’s trying to reach the young, trap-head masses with this polished YG aesthetic. I have nothing against trap or A$AP, you know that, but it’s just not Bronson’s style. That’s not you, Bam Bam. That’s not why I love you, and it’s not why you’re this successful. You'll lose more fans trying to appeal to the masses instead of your day-ones (aka, moi).

So if you read this, take my criticism with a grain of salt because it comes from a place of respect, otherwise, I wouldn’t even review you.

That’s it for today, let me know what you guys think about this ranking!

P.S Bronson, I love you. Don’t hate me for this.
Muffakirah out.