It is obvious by this point that music is no longer Action Bronson’s primary focus. As his fame accelerates, the cartoonish brags of his raps have converged with his everyday to such an extent that when he describes himself as an “author, singer, dancer, exotic olive oil taster” on ‘C12H16N2’, he’s not flexing so much as he is accurately reporting on his life. It makes sense: Bronson’s appeal is his personality, and with musicians earning less every year, why not relax in a pile of TV money for a while?
That doesn’t necessarily mean his new project Only For Dolphins is bad. Far from it – he’s as entertaining, funny and skilled behind the microphone as he’s ever been, and his production is just as exuberant. Particular highlights are ‘Splash’ and ‘Marcus Aurelias’, which see Action swinging wildly between the grounded and fantastical with his usual flair.
The album’s closer ‘Hard Target’ is especially interesting. Bronson comes as close to genuine reflection as he ever has: “The weed don’t even hit me like it used to, when I was youthful / Man, I don’t even know how to pray, dog”. It’s just a shame that this is the first time in three albums that Action Bronson has aimed for something more difficult than just feeding the fans.
Only For Dolphins doesn’t feel meaningfully different to Lamb Over Rice, which was itself essentially the same album as 2018’s White Bronco. Perhaps it’s unreasonable to expect significant changes from an artist who has always excelled in one specific lane, but it’s frustrating. New inductees to the Bronsonverse are better served by Rare Chandeliers and the first two Blue Chips tapes. Longtime fans will listen anyway – even at his most stagnant, Action Bronson’s still fun company. The only question is over how long he can really continue to serve fans the same dish over and over again.
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