Last night Action Bronson brought his Blue Chips 7000 tour to the Music Hall of Minneapolis for a night of outlandish charisma and meticulous artistry. Joined by longtime collaborator Meyhem Lauren and punk outfit Trash Talk, the three course meal that the rapper/author/chef served up was satisfying and makes one proud to be a Bronson listener.
Full disclosure, I’ve been seeing Bronson perform since 2009. Having lived in New York for many years, I first-hand witnessed the rise of Bronson and the metamorphosis of his stage show from tradition to intimacy to chaos and now to a wholly consistent entry in the Bronson franchise. Given these eight years of context, witnessing Bronson in his final form last night was something really special.
Here’s our 5 takeaways.
1) Meyhem Lauren pickpocketed the show
Having just released a project with DJ Muggs, one may wonder how well a collab-friendly artist like Meyhem would translate to a solo set without even the benefit of a hypeman. Fortunately, it was stupendous, as Meyhem’s smooth aggression and light-on-his-feet energy complimented the boom-bap bursting through the speakers. His reappearance later during Bronson’s set was another highlight, and while any other night one could argue he stole the show, tonight you could say he pickpocketed it.
2) Also, there was more metal than you would expect
Between Meyhem and Bronson was Sacramento hardcore punk band Trash Talk. It was very odd to go from the familiar hip-hop stylings of Bronson’s circle to a band screaming and telling the crowd to open up a circle pit, but in retrospect, being shaken from one’s comfort zone in such a curated way feels like a big part of what the Action Bronson experience is all about. Lead-singer Lee Spielman repeatedly reminded the audience how different they were from the hip-hop acts and yelled at fans to put their phones down multiple times, effectively making the most hostile antagonizing opening set possible, and potentially creating a few new hardcore punk fans along the way.
3) Action Banter
Even the biggest fans of his recorded material would concede that the best part of witnessing Action Bronson onstage is his unfiltered, uncensored live banter. Whether it’s deliberately flipping between a love/hate relationship with his DJ Latin Heat (in the most literal sense, he said “I hate you” and “I love you” to him several times in the evening), pointing out the on-stage mistakes (“he was supposed to turn the beat off right there”) or directly talking with the crowd, it’s a reminder why he’s become such a media darling. One attendee was loudly yelling for Bronson to perform his deep mixtape cut “Dudley Boyz,” which Bronson acknowledged and said “I don’t have that beat, but I’ll spit a few lines” and proceeded to do the track’s first verse to the spasmodic glee of that particular fan.
4) Bronson gets political…sort of…
There’s an old activist adage about how “you vote every time you open your wallet,” and Chef Bronsolini made the food equivalent last night with some hot takes on hot food. While he received cheers for his declaration of “f*** fish tacos,” he was greeted with a mixed response when he threatened “don’t you ever talk s*** about pineapple on pizza,” adding how euphoric the controversial topping is when joined by “spicy tomato sauce, red pepper, some nice sausage” to a smattering of boo’s. The audience was much more receptive of his pre-song explanation to a lyrics change in “9-24-7000” where, in lieu of the recent accusations, he changed a reference of “Kevin Spacey” to “Randy Savage.”
5) Bronson has never, ever been a better rapper
Longtime Bronson fans who’ve grown to associate the rapper’s shows with some sort of chaos may have been a bit disappointed in his own maturity as an artist. Personally speaking, as much as I loved seeing Bronson perform an entire set in a crowd of 35 people at 4:00 AM during CMJ 2011, or witnessing him tear his shirt off mid-verse while rapping at Peter Rosenberg‘s birthday party in 2014, Bronson’s Blue Chips 7000 tour is less about being a beautiful debacle and more about being an excellent rap show. Bronson’s breath control and delivery on his tracks have never, ever sounded better. Whether new favorites like “The Chairment’s Intent” or older classics like his encore “Strictly 4 My Jeeps” and a memorable rendition of “Baby Blue” that changed mid-song to the beat of Biz Markie‘s “Just a Friend,” the Bronson of 2017 is a far more advanced technical rapper and showman MC than he’s ever been, and with him now adding #1 Best-Selling author and late night host to his resumé, that growth is a good thing.