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Action Bronson “Saaab Stories” Reviewed

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Seeing as the flood gates of rap are set to open on June 18th, Action Bronson graciously drops his latest project, Saaab Stories, off a week prior, a bit of antipasto for the rap-hungry constituency. Sticking one producer behind the boards has been a recent trend for Bronsolino (and other rappers like Curren$y and Prodigy) and Saaab Stories is no different, with wave master Harry Fraud steering the sonics of the seven track EP.

For Bronson, this latest offering adds to an already extensive catalog that has yet to feature a major label-backed album. As far as career trajectories go, each release then becomes a step closer to mainstream recognition or popularity. Not that artists like Action need play the single or promo game (mixtapes and performances making a fine living for today’s artists), but an easily identifiable entry point for a mass audience can’t hurt — and he may have it with “Strictly 4 My Jeeps.” It’s got an old school boom-bap beat, with short concise verses and an instantly memorable hook. That Bronson keeps it all Queens with the remix, recruiting LL Cool J and Lloyd Banks, shows just where his musical priorities lie. Putting on for his borough outranks calling upon a quickly recognizable name with market appeal.

He does just that, though, on “The Rockers,” enlisting Wiz Khalifa to rap over one of Fraud’s best beats here; what sounds like spontaneous crystallization over tinkering snares. Wiz is a frequent Fraud collaborator, but spits such forgettable bars here that the hook’s refrain — “Hit you with the drop kick, Marty Jannetty” — can’t come back, soaring off the top rope, soon enough.

By Saaab Stories‘ end, the features are back on track, and back to Action’s Empire roots with the Prodigy and Raekwon assisted “Seven Series Triplets.” The title refers to the BMW 7 Series, and when Raekwon closes out the track with “You know what it is man, it’s automatic,” he could be speaking to his fire arm, his style, or the gear shift in his Beamer. While each seem plausible, the last feels the most fitting, especially considering the project’s automobile focus.

Bronson had said that he keeps an eye for classic cars and that the Saab (spelled with three a’s because of “bullshit logistics”) is the next in his collection. He swaps out his usual food raps for some whip appeal here, referencing Camrys (“2 Virgins”), Camaros (“Triple Backflip”), and Civics (“No Time”) all within the first three tracks. His garage goes deeper, too, including Gold Impala’s (“Alligator”) and a slew of Beamers (635s and 525s). The slick car talk isn’t as tantalizing as his food raps, which have helped give Bronson his own lane, his own burner to cook on.

When he combines the two, with lines like “Ride in the drop top lobster Porsche / Inside I got the pasta sauce” it’s just enough to have it both ways. Which can be a Bronson specialty, as can his absurdist humor. He drops sports references like “Jose Canseco was my hero” and “The joint longer than Mutombo finger” without so much as a pause or double take and boats that he’s “About to buy a fucking lion for my birthday” (on “Alligator”) without considering how terribly that may go. Saaab Stories is full of lines like that, that cascade over Fraud’s silky production. An easily digestible project for fans of both the rapper and producer, Saaab Stories will cut the humidity on stuffy summer nights; a collection for classic cars and open air evenings.

Cop the EP on iTunes to check it out for yourself.

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