Action Bronson’s ‘Rare Chandeliers’ in Review

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By DAN GARTLAND

SPORTS EDITOR

Rare Chandeliersis the latest release from Action Bronson, the Queens-born Albanian-American chef/rapper. Produced by The Alchemist, it is Bronson’s first release since signing with the Warner Bros. offshoot VICE Media.

At this point in his career, having signed with a major record label, Bronson finds himself at a crossroads. One of the advantages of signing a record deal is working with talented producers like The Alchemist. Indeed, the production of Rare Chandeliers is crisp, but also exceedingly complex. Bronson’s previous efforts stuck to the simple “rap and beat” recipe. Rare Chandeliers employs more abrupt beat changes and interludes. While it is refreshing to hear Bronson stray from his formula, the production can distract from what earned Bronson his record deal in the first place: his smooth, clever raps.

Two things defined Bronson’s early releases: his being from Queens and his love of cooking. On Rare Chandeliers, Bronson will not let you forget he’s from Flushing, but gone are those food-centric tracks (like “Brunch” and “Shiraz” from 2011’s Dr. Lecter) that made him so unique. Culinary wordplay is abundant, just sparser than we have become accustomed to.

Bronson’s sound and style on Rare Chandeliers is different, but more in the sense of being refined, rather than fundamentally altered. Many of his early songs used jazzy samples which gave his tracks a certain texture, hearkening back to the heyday of New York rap. In that regard, “The Symbol” is the only classic Bronson track on Rare Chandeliers, combining a soulful guitar lick with Bronson’s slick rhymes.

If there is one negative about Rare Chandeliers, it is that the slight misogynistic tinge evident on some of Bronson’s early efforts is more pronounced here. Granted, misogyny and rap tend to go hand-in-hand. If we are to believe that Rare Chandeliers represents a step in Bronson’s maturation process, as he steps out of the underground and into the mainstream, then his frequent use of slurs is a step in the wrong direction.

Rare Chandeliers is not really better or worse than anything Bronson has produced before-it is just different. Lyrically, he may have taken a small step forward, but fans of Bronson’s earlier stuff might be put off by The Alchemist’s more sophisticated production. If nothing else, Rare Chandeliers serves to create some hype ahead of Saab Stories, Bronson’s much-anticipated collaboration with producer Harry Fraud, expected to be released some time in 2013.

You can download Rare Chandeliers free of charge at ActionBronson.com.