“Saab Stories”, Action Bronson x Harry Fraud, 6/11/13

by on June 15, 2013

Posted in: Album Review, Hip Hop, Music

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Action Bronson hails from Flushing, Queens, but he is a man of worldly tastes, tastes which he never hesitates to indulge, as evidenced by his music and his physique.  Listeners of his previous projects know well his devotion to luxury cars, exotic food, and hospitable women through his ability to endlessly discuss all three in new and entertaining ways.  On Tuesday, Bronsolini released Saab Stories (Atlantic), a 7-song EP in collaboration with producer Harry Fraud.  Much anticipated since Fraud revealed the project in April, Saab Stories arrives in the wake of past Bronson-Fraud hook-ups, including this year’s classic “Bird on a Wire” with RiFF RaFF.  Although the Brooklyn-born producer originally told The Source magazine that it would be an LP, Saab Stories succeeds because it demonstrates Action and Harry at their very best, with no dead space or missteps.

A large part of that success comes directly from the interplay between Action Bronson and Harry Fraud, whose signature “La musica de Harry Fraud” drop is one of the most promising beginnings to any hip-hop song these days.  All four of Action’s most successful previous projects have featured exclusive production, from four very different beatmakers (Tommy Mas, Statik Selektah, Party Supplies and The Alchemist), and he has expertly adapted his unique brand of lifestyle rap on each release.  In linking up with Harry Fraud, he finds a producer equally adept at matching his work to the style of his collaborators.  On his excellent compilation Adrift from this March, Fraud delivers beats to suit each of the diverse MC’s on the tape, from Action, to Bun B, to Pusha T, to Young Roddy.

Fraud supplies 7 great, varied beats on Saab Stories, and Action Bronson systematically knocks all of them out of the park.  It’s tough to say exactly what makes Bronson so unique lyrically, apart from his outsized preoccupation with, and knowledge of, cuisine.  Part of it is that his depiction of the good life is presented in a weirdly unglamorous way: he is aware that his idea of gratification is lewd, unrefined, and indulgent, but he couldn’t care less.  On the fantastic “No Time” he explains that his ideal woman will “Do a split on my dick, if I’m sick she’ll even clean me if I shit”, but also clarifies “No socks in the loafer cuz its tacky”.  His aesthetic his hilariously distinct, even when it is totally repulsive, and his delivery is always flawless.

“The Rockers”, which is Harry Fraud’s best work on the EP, a shimmering joint laced with racing snares, features a truly classic Bronson verse.  His perverse imagination is on full display, and he allows his stream of consciousness to dictate his rhymes, “Burning cheese, saganaki, Greek shit, whole team sick, ho bitches from Cleveland on my dick because I rap (rap), fuck it make it clap”.  It is not perfect rhyme structure but Bronson effortlessly pulls it off.  On “Strictly 4 My Jeeps”, which has been on the internet since January, Bronson raps, “Now my beard look like Uday and Qusay, plate of pule on a cool day”.  Not to go all RapGenius, but Action here compares his facial hair to the diabolical sons of Sadaam Hussein and, in the same breath, drops a reference to what may be the world’s most expensive cheese.  If nothing else, the man is imaginative.

If Saab Stories is guilty of any flaw, it is brevity, both in length and scope.  One of the most engaging aspect of Action’s music is his tendency for moments of  sudden honesty,  in which we get a glimpse past the shades.  On “9-24-11”, from the mixtape Blue Chips, Bronson raps, “Well naturally I’m jealous, because I’m lonely, at times my only friends in life are drugs and a cannoli”.  Saab Stories is lacking these moments of transparency, save perhaps for the second part of “Alligator”, on which BamBam raps, “A bit disturbed, confessions in the journal, I’m sickened by my thoughts so its tossed in the inferno”.  Additionally, the short track-list is disappointing, especially as it is Bronson’s first for-pay release.  However, these are only complaints because what is on the EP is so damn good it will leave fans of Bronson and Harry Fraud wanting more work from the duo.  And with Action’s album still without a release date, releases the quality of Saab Stories will be enjoyed eagerly and, hopefully, often.

Best Line: “Ain’t nothin’ perscripted, baby clams from Montauk mix it up with the linguistics…Bitch I’m high”-Action Bronson, “The Rockers”
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