Action Bronson is a man who wears many hats: As a chef, author, entrepreneur, and hip-hop musician, Bronson’s creative proclivities bleed across mediums. His most recent album, Only For Dolphins, reflects Bronson’s multifaceted artistry while remaining true to its identity as a hip-hop album. However, while the album is diverse in terms of its culinary references, world music samples, and allusions to exotic drugs, Bronson’s excessive boasts and egotistical displays border on clichéd self-parody.
Throughout the album, “Young Baklava” brags about his hedonistic drug use, taste for expensive clothing and cars, and womanizing skills as he spits over a collection of discordant instrumentals. On “C16H16N2” Bronson boasts about eating entire sheets of what is assumed to be LSD. The string-plucked chords of “Mongolia” and the Yung-Gravy-esque disco samples on “Splash” are colorful, playful, and reflective of Bronson’s eclectic inspirations. The breadth of Bronson’s imagery is on display in lines such as “Just models sniffin’ coke off mirrors, talkin’ ‘bout, ‘Do Domino’s deliver?’”
While Bronson’s lyrics strive for thematic diversity, the raps are repetitive and have little to no flow. Daringer-produced “Shredder” is a two-minutes-long track that only has 19 lines of free verse without a hook or chorus. Here, the aura of ease which Bronson has always had as an M.C. feels lazy and careless. While each track delivers witty one-liner after one-liner, there are only so many times that Bronson can repeat how much he loves dropping acid and driving cars before listeners roll their eyes.
Only in two of the tracks (“Capoeira” and “Mongolia”) does Bronson allow another artist to take the mic. While the tracks’ features take on different vocal qualities, there are few memorable hooks or rhymes. Despite the short run-time and diverse instrumentals of Only for Dolphins, the album is monotonous. Bronson’s strengths as a man who dips his hand in many pies occasionally shines through, but he needs to find some new pies, or dip his hands deeper.