Up until the release date of “Saaab Stories” by Action Bronson, produced by Harry Fraud, I had no idea this EP existed. I find it incredible that there was no hype surrounding “Saaab Stories” release after Bronson performed, and stole the show, at Summer Jam. However, amidst all the anticipation of J.Cole, Mac Miller and Kanye West releasing albums on the 18th of June, Hip Hop might have just missed out on the best project of 2013 released a week ahead of the date being branded ‘Hip Hop day’.
The EP opens up with a track which on the iTunes and Spotify tracklist is named “2 Virgins” but I believe the true name of the song is “72 Virgins“. From the start of this EP it is clear that Bronson is arguably the first white rapper to have no comparison to Eminem to reach any sort of success in the last ten years. Although I get the worst feeling he’s probably been called ‘the white Rick Ross’ already, which is an equally horrific comparison to make. The tracks feature of frequent collaborator Big Body Bes adds more ambiguity to the track then anything worthwhile. The juxtaposition of Bronson “chilling with Bruce Willis”, turning “this motherfucker back into a feotus” and being “a grown man since” he “had a baby dick” with Bes’ having “a fucking fifty year old Puerto Rican” with him and babbling about eating “out the motherfucking pot” makes the track feel unnatural. The switch in Bronson’s multi-syllabic rapping to Bes’ non-fluent spoken word verse leads me to bemusedly wonder why Action Bronson allowed Big Body to disgrace an amazing instrumental constructed with live instruments and no samples by Harry Fraud.
“Triple Back Flip” is a highlight of the EP, especially in terms of Bronson’s rapping as he flows fluently around a track supported by the most upbeat instrumental Fraud contributes to “Saaab Stories”. The hooks lyricism of “piledrive her through the bed” is an early indication of Bronson’s love for Wrestling as he later names a song “The Rockers” after an old WWF Tag Team. The lyricism of the second verse is the type synonymous with radio as Bronson imperatively commands “Come hold my dick while I take a piss” and then goes on to discuss the comfort level of seats inside of a jeep but the natural charm and charisma that the New York emcee possesses allows each lyric to sound like pure gold. The consistent reference to cars is a breath of fresh air to the stale, stock lyrics Hip Hop has grown accustomed to as Bronson manages to bring substance to the clichéd reference. The track’s penultimate line “Needless to say I’m exceeding while you pussies bleeding”, taking a moment first to acknowledge the inner rhyme and wordplay, sums up why he mentions luxurious cars, wine and food with an air of intelligence. Simply, and subtly, saying that he is better than anyone else because he has achieve his success in a short space of time.
My personal favourite track of the “Saaab Stories” EP is “No Time“. The captivating chorus sees Action Bronson sing two lines, twice in a formula typical of pop records but the emcee manages – miraculously – to pull it off. The cars references are prominent once more on the bridge as he compares himself to a “bimmer” and “you in a civic” and in the first verse he spits “tryna fuck a groupie bitch right on the hood of the mustang”. Amazingly the repetitive car reference never grows monotonous, probably in part due to the drum-heavy Harry Fraud instrumental. The second verse features a weak lyrical point for Action Bronson as he fails to keep to a point from racial stereotypes, comparing a joint to a croissant and himself to a “big bear” but “nothing to cuddle”. The latter being a line I expect to see quoted by ‘big boned’ men throughout the world, myself included. The conversation at the end of the track, which I can’t decide if its between Action and Fraud or Bronson and Khalifa who features on the next track, is pointless. Skip the track as soon as the instrumental cuts off.
From being nicknamed Bam Bam to the piledriver reference in “Triple Back Flip” it is obvious that Action Bronson is, or was, a big fan of wrestling. Taking it a step further the Queens rapper names the fourth track of the EP after WWF tag team “The Rockers” and repetitvely threatens to “hit you with that drop kick”, Marty Jannetty was one half of The Rockers alongside Shawn Michaels. The chorus is a definite highlight of an otherwise average at best track in which Wiz Khalifa manages to outshine Bronson in their respective verses. Wiz’s line about “niggas just don’t wanna go to school / Act like they are but they not sick” is a stand out bar of the song, although Bronson’s description of throwing money in the air then picking it back up isn’t far off if he had of delivered with a sense of comical humour. The combination of typical Action Bronson sample with typical Harry Fraud drum patterns allows the song to be a must-listen for the instrumental alone.
“Strictly 4 My Jeepz” sees Bronson bring comparisons between himself and Hip Hop’s late legends Tupac and Biggie Smalls. Fraud samples a song which was also samples on B.I.G’s “Juicy”, whilst the title itself is an intertextual reference to Pac’s “Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z”. For any other artist using similar title or samples to two artists who are considered widely as the greatest rappers of all time would be career suicide but Bronson brushes off any pressure to deliver with a faster flow than anything on the EP or that I have heard from him before. “Shit on my chest, shoot colours like a care bear” is another comical line from Bam Bam which isn’t delivered as well as it could but still sounds hilarious. Bronson spits obscure lyrics through out the song, showcasing just why he has come from “Queens to the top” and is “the cream of the crop” in the space of “one year”. “Strictly 4 My Jeepz” appears to be the popular opinion for the best song of “Saaab Stories” and it is hard to argue against that belief, justifying the no-doubt consious efforts to draw comparisons between Bronsolini and Biggie and Tupac.
For the penultimate track of “Saaab Stories”, we are given two songs in the space of one. A regular occurrence which appears to be the trend in music recently, which I detest. Just add another track to the list… The first section of “Alligator” consists of a mediocre chorus in terms of lyricism as Bronson raps – “I ride so clean, I ride so dirty, I’m about to buy an alligator for my birthday” – a bar which could have been written by any teenager with a pen and a pad for his first rap song. Similar to “Triple Back Flip” however Bronsolini’s charisma makes the chorus cool, captivating and even sound as though it could be complex. The verses see Bronson flips between “stay in the water like the lochness” to switching seats with Spike Lee at a basketball game and sounding like a Hip Hop veteran throughout. The second half of “Alligator” has Bronson spitting a straight sixteen bars without any hook or bridge interlude over a different, yet equally impressive, Harry Fraud instrumental. The Joell Ortiz line “nod your head, make a face like your sitting on the toilet and its real hard to crap, shit”, is the best way to describe the entire second section of “Alligator” especially the abortion line. Arguably the greatest two song track of all time.
The closing track of “Saaab Stories” sees Action Bronson collaborate with East Coast legends Prodigy and Raekwon. In an attempt to align himself with the best, similar to “Strictly 4 My Jeepz”, Bronson spits “Still I blast the shottie faster on your bastards, make you backspin, come out the closet you’ve been trapped in” with pin-point perfection which outstandingly outshines his fellow collaborators on “Seven Series Triplets“. I have seen a lot of people say that Prodigy and Raekwon proved why their legends by outclassing Bronson but I disagree. If anything I think Bam Bam is the stand out artist of the song with only Prodigy’s first four bars holding a candle to Bronson’s entire verse while Raekwon didn’t contribute anything special in my opinion. That is in no way to disrespect the living legend of Hip Hop, but Bronson delivers a special air of confidence with a tint of brilliance in every syllable he spits ensuring he is well on his way to be considered a legend in his own right.
Overall, there was one major stand out of the entire “Saaab Stories” EP which is usually undervalued in most Hip Hop projects. Fans and critics have unanimously agreed that the production of Harry Fraud either carried the EP entirely or at the very least provided a foundation that enabled Action Bronson to deliver arguably the best purchasable project of the year so far. Only Trev Rich’s mixtape “Heights 2” has been better in my opinion. In Action Bronson’s defence, I disagree with the swarm of critics who have berated the length of the project for limiting Bronson’s songs and consequently his brilliance. This is the best EP I have heard since Bad Meets Evil “Hell: The Sequel” and prior to “Saaab Stories” I wasn’t even a fan of Bronsolini. I had respected that he was a talented emcee but his music was not for me. This EP has allowed the Queens emcee to attract a new audience who are now more than willing, and highly anticipate, any upcoming LP he releases.
Stand Out Song(s) – No Time / Strictly 4 My Jeepz / Alligator
EP Rating – 4.75/5
“Saaab Stories” is available from iTunes now.
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