A gangsta foodie whose raps feel like equal parts Ghostface Killah and Rocco DiSpirito, Action Bronson mingles ingredients from the black market and the farmer's market, drugs and haute cuisine, serving up thug life with a raspberry-balsamic reduction. An Albanian-American former chef shaped like a kettle but boasting sexual conquests like he was Lil Wayne, Bronson can take a gritty street opera and drop in a line about “bone marrow roasted, spread it on the rosemary bread, lightly toasted, drizzled with the vinaigrette” without much stretching. This is no joke: This is Action Bronson's “Blue Chips,” the title of which connotes high-value stocks, poker or something to slather with fire-roasted habanero puree.
Produced by rising Queens, N.Y., crate diver Party Supplies and available as a free download, “Blue Chips” is proudly and loudly an East Coast revival album, heavily ladled with 1970s funk samples and garnished with left-field head scratchers. Bronson's New York is a place where people scream out of windows, just like the messed-up couple in “Thug Love Story 2012,” which is built on the vocal hook from the Flamingos “I Only Have Eyes for You.” In Bronson's world, a gangsta victory is celebrated with culinary finesse, and Party Supplies keeps the beat loose and strange, looping the Ozark Mountain Daredevils' “Jackie Blue” under “Dreamer,” Extreme's “Rest in Peace” on “Pouches of Tuna” and, in the piece de resistance, Frank Zappa's “Tell Me You Love Me” on “Expensive Pens.”
Most East Coast purists' grade-A beef with Bronson is that he cops too much from Ghostface, and it's understandable: Bronson's style is built on the Wu-Tang MVP's foundation, and most of “Blue Chips” can fit seamlessly into a mix between “Supreme Clientele” and “Fishscale,” but while he indulges in the same kind of hard-boiled stories, he's not really poaching. Since his first forays after he hung up the chef's coat and picked up the mic, Bronson is much improved as a storyteller and on “Blue Chips,” he serves up crime and grime and then tops it with a rich demi-glace.
— George Lang