Blue Chips will always have a place in my heart. After all, it was the first 10 seconds of the original that converted me to a full-blown Bronson fan. If it was Party Supplies’ production that first hooked me, however, it was Bronson’s incredible writing, off-the-wall persona and excellent beat choice that kept me listening. This was only furthered by the release of Blue Chips 2, a phenomenal follow-up that maintained its predecessor’s charm and musical excellence. Make no mistake: Action Bronson and Party Supplies were a killer combination.
Which makes it odd that, despite the first 2 mixtapes’ universal success, Bronson decided to switch up the formula. Party Supplies is gone for all but a few tracks, and with him the blend of eccentric and vintage that characterised much of Blue Chips and its sequel. Whilst heavy sampling does remain, Executive production from Harry Fraud has added a cleaner sound to the album – the studio touch has indeed made a much less muddied project.
But this is not the only change Fraud’s production has brought. Much of 7000 is funkier, bouncier and more upbeat than its predecessors. Much of Party’s production relied on boom-bap remakes of classic samples, and whilst this is seen on The Chairman’s Intent and The Choreographer, it takes a backseat to more upbeat, minimalist production. This is seen best on Let Me Breathe, the album’s lead single, featuring a bouncing trap-inspired beat that sounds thoroughly modern.
At times, this works in Bronson’s favour, letting Bronson’s larger-than-life persona provide the songs’ narrative and structure. This works excellently on standout track Bonsai, where Bronson’s captivating storytelling and fantastic one-liners are subtly enhanced by a quiet bass sample. Likewise, La Luna sees Bronson rap over the “on hold” music for his taxi company, producing a witty, jazzy, and thoroughly enjoyable song. At other times, however, this new sound seems to detract. A staple of the Blue Chips series is the “9-24-x” tracks, each a landmark in their respective tape. Unfortunately, due to the overly-simplistic production of 9-24-7000, the track meanders and falls far short of its predecessors, letting Bronson flounder before giving way to an equally mediocre verse from Rick Ross.
The failure of this track is symptomatic of the album as a whole – Blue Chips 7000 has no right to adopt the “Blue Chips” moniker. Gone is everything that characterised the series: Party Supplies is rarely seen, the project’s sound is entirely different and the production remains clean and sample-light throughout. By the time I had reached 9-24-7000, the album seems like somewhat of a cash-in – despite several strong tracks, 7000 seemed to be using the name recognition of the previous tapes to drive success, while discarding their character and singularity.
It was here, however, that the album made a brief but fantastic turn. The Choreographer, following shortly after, is one of Bronson’s best. All the elements of a fantastic Action Bronson track are there – the beat is funky and excellently sampled, the lyrics are larger-than-life and braggadocious, and Bronson comes in with a hilarious and epic “SOMEBODY’S SLEEPING IN MY BEEEEED” breakdown towards the end of the song. The track is immediately followed by Chop Chop Chop, a more melancholic track, but equally as good. These two tracks form a phenomenal flashback to the original tapes, giving the album a brief but excellent final flourish alongside the brag-rap of Durag Vs Headband.
This album, despite its variance from the previous Blue Chips tapes, is mainly more of the same. If you weren’t a fan of Bronson’s past works, this will not swing you – despite its changed sound, this album is undeniably Action Bronson. Whilst this sounds great on paper for Bronsolino stans, the album is wholly inconsistent: tracks vary from excellent (The Choreographer, Bonzai), to mediocre (TANK, Let It Rain), to downright awful (Hot Pepper). This inconsistency means Blue Chips 7000 feels more like a mixtape than an album, with some absolute diamonds hidden amongst less successful works. Much like the “Dominican buffet” featured in Bronson’s Mr. Songwriter, this album is something to pick and choose from rather than swallow whole.
Picks:The Choreographer, Bonzai, Chop Chop Chop