I’ve been waiting. It’s been damn near a calendar year since the last Action Bronson album and I have been craving vivid food description, absurd bars and that sweet elegant Queens flow. Once the golden musical time of 11 PM hit, I was laying in my bed, staring at the ceiling, having little idea of what to expect. Only for Dolphins was finally here.
The trills and whistles of dolphins grazed my ears, just as elegantly as the species itself. Birds chirp. Dolphins interact. Action plunged me into a musical underwater journey to the depths of the sea, exploring the unknown. And who is my guide? A pod of thirty dolphins and none other than Mr. Baklava, Prince Charming, or Bam Bam.
On this album, Action orchestrates a beautiful exhibition of musical expertise. He revamped his style the same way he has revamped his body, losing 100 pounds over the past few months with intense workout routines. If I explain the journey, it would say this:
I grasp tightly to the fins of my slimy friends as we descend further to the abyss of the ocean, I imagine it is fifty or so miles off the coast of Coney Island. Each song reflects a stop at not only a different segment of the ocean, but a different segment of Action’s life. Some spots are what seem to be underwater jazz rooms, resembling something New York mobsters would go and take their mistress, and get away from the wife for a bit. Some spots are just reflective anecdotes from Bronson, that are so personal and beautiful that they are only to be shared between you and Bronsoliño himself. And some spots are the actual journey itself, gliding through the water gripping tightly onto the exquisite sea creatures. The journey itself is sometimes the most forgotten part (probably from all the hash and psychedelics you are smoking and consuming along the way).
And while on this journey, you hear some of the most delicate and precise production of Action’s career thus far. The vision is clear and it is completed swiftly. A saxophone solo by Yung Mehico on the opener “Capoeira” or the escalating piano chords on “Vega” foreshadow the utter beauty that is on this album; a mix of Jazz, Blues, and crispy verbiage that would make Shakespeare cry. Action explores the bending of many different genres and cultivates them into his own mess of a cultural buffet.
Unlike many of his other projects, there are many songs that display a lot of concepts that I thought I would never hear from Bronson, probably the most introspective work we have seen to date. For example, on the only Alchemist and Bronson collaboration, “Sergio”, Bronson says the lines:
“Lookin' like your boy just won the lotto
But then drowned every dollar in a bottle (Every single one of them)
And put a bunch of junk (Uh), in his arm and his nose (Uh)
And between his toes (His toes)
'Cause feelin' good's the only thing he knows (Ah, the pain)”
If you are a Bronson fan, obviously using third person isn’t unusual but Action uses it in a way that we usually don’t see: self defamation. He dials in on the struggles with drug use and the life of fame. I’m only used to Action boasting in sheer confidence. But this display is oddly refreshing. It is not only present on “Sergio”, but present in songs like “C12H16N2”(which is the molecular compound for DMT for all the chemistry nerds) where he explains himself having a race with the devil which could have many interpretations. Or even “Marcus Aurelius” where he talks about his new and mature feelings about materialism. These topics show the immense maturity in his music, while still retaining the foundation of what makes Bronson so beloved. These silky smooth jazz piano chords and blaring horns compliment the infrequent soft voice of Mr. Baklava. These tracks really display Action’s versatility and proves the ones who think Action Bronson is just a bus stop rapper are embarrassingly wrong.
But, if sadder stuff isn’t your shit, which isn’t for a lot of people, don’t worry, there is some vintage Bronson drizzled throughout. Future classics like “Splash” mix old Action and New Bronson well. The song was beautifully produced by Samiyam, it mimics a 90’s Jacomo perfume commercial with whiffs of godly wordplay. “Cliff Hanger” contains fire bars and some joyous occasions while roaming New York. Like, let's be honest, name one rapper who could arrange this beautifully savage phrase besides Bro