It’s been another big year for Action Bronson – between his impressive health journey and legendary ventures in the food world, he has arrived with his long-awaited album, ‘Only For Dolphins’. It’s been nearly two years since his last full length album, White Bronco, although last year he delivered the tasteful Lamp Over Rice EP with his long-time friend and collaborator The Alchemist.
A lot has changed with Bronson since 2018’s White Bronco. From his departure from Atlantic / Vice Records, to becoming an increasingly influential Chef / TV Personality thanks to the success of his show F**k That’s Delicious, becoming a dad, and losing over 100 pounds this year since hitting the gym and changing up his diet. This shift in lifestyle is reflected on ‘Only For Dolphins’ – with 12 tracks clocking in at 35 minutes, it’s one of his most succinct records yet, and a sense of clarity prevails throughout.
As the offbeat title suggests, ‘Only For Dolphins’ is on a different level. Action Bronson fans know that he’s a deeply * spiritual * being and it’s his off-kilter taste that gives him his edge in the oversaturated hip hop market.
Speaking on his obsession with the intelligent marine animal, Bronson revealed;
“The dolphin is one of the most intelligent creatures ever created on whatever planet we’re on,” He previously said in a press release. “They have their own way of communicating. They have nuance and intangibles like we do.”
Production, as always, is a strong point on the record. A strong international flavour is added in the mix with old samples and world music influences, Bronson creates a refreshing soundscape that makes his album appealing to both the casual listener and the avid fan. Enlisting a different producer for almost each track (including producer pals The Alchemist, Harry Fraud, Daringer, Budgie, DJ Muggs, Tommy Mas and Samiyam), there is a same-same-but-different feel to several of the tracks that’ll keep you engaged. A few listens in, fans will be able to pick up on the sub-themes within each track – from the old-timey Jazz inspired ‘Vega’ or the Summery, funk-infused ‘Capoeira’ that stars a smooth saxophone solo.
Lyrically, Bronson still holds the persona of the hip hop stereotype close – detailing getting in fights, crazy drug experiences, escapades with women, and so on. This bravado is balanced with stories from his own life – he even mentions his cameo in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman on ‘C12H16N2’ in which he recounts a crazy trip on DMT. The album includes a few note-worthy features from friends Meyhem Lauren, Hologram, and Yung Mehico, creating a sense of warmth and comradery on the tracks that translates to the listener.
It’s no surprise given Bronson’s presence in the food world that this love translates to his music, with many culinary references on the new album from baklava to mangú. This is a recurring theme for Bronson throughout his discography – take 2019’s Lamb Over Rice EP for instance.
More than a passion for food though, it’s Action Bronson’s love of people, travel, and culture that injects his music with an undeniable cosmopolitan flavour. As a native of Queens, New York, this appreciation of culture is part of his identity. Queens is one of the most diverse boroughs in the world, with 800 languages being spoken there. Influenced by everything from Jazz, Caribbean Reggae, French romance movies, Brazilian funk, and Middle Eastern trance, they all come together to lay an international foundation for his rhymes.
‘Only For Dolphins’ is more than just an album, it’s another Action Bronson™️ venture as he furthers his multi-hyphenate empire – a chef, author, actor, TV personality, artist, and musician are just a handful of his many titles. This variety in his day to day has led to a full user experience available to fans on top of the record. As well as the album, he’s released merch, soft toy dolphins, ice cream pints in collaboration with Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, and is working on a signature scent called ‘Splash’ inspired by the album. This full sensory experience is an intentional decision;
“I get inspiration from all around the world and I make what I want. I wanted to make sure that I hit everything on this project. We’re giving you the auditory. We’re giving you the visual. The olfactory. Your taste buds. There isn’t a physical sensation that ‘Only for Dolphins’ doesn’t cover.”
This album feels like a new phase for Action Bronson, despite not sonically straying too far from his previous work. While many may seem him as a Jack Of All Trades, Bronson’s sense of worldly curiosity is a holistic passion that infuses his life and gives him a unique artistic perspective on the world around him, including music. Despite being busy with other projects, he’s become a ubiquitous brand in himself and his talent shines through on ‘Only For Dolphins’ – the next piece in Action Bronson’s puzzle.