On “Respect The Mustache,” the table-setting opener from Queens rapper Action Bronson’s full-length collaboration with Boston producer Statik Selektah, Well Done, Bronson offers a boastful but telling profile of himself: “I’m straight raw like carpaccio/I’m just a heartthrob that’s straight off the screen just like DiCaprio.” It’s a ripe breakdown of the winning formula that has catapulted the former gourmet chef from relative anonymity to Internet rap notoriety in only a year’s time—he’s a pure lyricist with a raw, no-frills approach to rapping (in an age where lyrics often take a backseat to novelty), and he packs a XXL charm and larger-than-life personality that, reminiscent of rappers like Notorious B.I.G. and Big Pun, is only bolstered by his size.
Well Done, Bronson’s second proper LP, expands on the East Coast rap traditionalism that he established with last year’s Bon Appetit…Bitch!!! mixtape and his debut full-length, Dr. Lecter, released earlier this year. The Flushing representer’s relentless, airtight style of rhyming remains as loaded with action, vivid street imagery and culinary metaphors as ever, but with seasoned beatsmith Statik Selektah behind the boards, Bronson is able to branch out into a few new sonic territories. The Nina Sky-assisted standout “Cocoa Butter” finds Bronson flexing majestic in between comparing himself to Leslie Nielsen and Rickey Henderson and over a lush, Olympian, horn-driven production. Bronson laces a Latin-infused beat on the dime piece ode “Miss Fordham Road” and showcases some lyrical acrobatics on the twitchy knocker “Cirque Du Soleil.”
At heart though, Action Bronson is a meat-and-potatoes type lyrical rapper and Statik Selektah is an East Coast classicist producer, so most of Well Done is anchored in the kind of boom bap that is their bread and butter. Tracks like the sunless “Central Bookings,” New York posse cut “Terror Death Camp” and lead single “Not Enough Words” paint detailed portraits of street life, with plenty of tough talking and aspirations of having, as Bronson says, “a bag of money stuffed inside my shorts.” It’s no-bullshit, gritty hip-hop for hip-hop’s sake, forgoing radio-friendly hooks or overly flashy production in favor of inspired storytelling and colorful slang.