The Alchemist has been paying homage to classic New York rap since working with Mobb Deep and Nas in the early 2000s. That knowledge paired with the face that in the last year no one has been compared to classic New York rap more than Action Bronson. The rapper and producer collaborating for an entire project sounds like one of the more exciting projects that could be released at any given moment. However, halfway through Rare Chandeliers I found myself waiting for that excitement.
Action Bronson is a character. His ability as a lyricist is just as important as his sense of humor and creativity. This is truer for Bronson than most rappers because absent his sense of humor and creative writing he wouldn’t be Action Bronson. His prominence comes not from his voice being eerily similar to Ghostface Killah; it comes from his ability to talk about roasted bone marrow spread with a Scarface facade so convincing that it sounds gangster. However, his partnership with Alchemist didn’t produce near as much of that Action Bronson as it did a humdrum Queens rapper indistinguishable from nearly all rappers from New York.
There was always an air of satire around Action Bronson’s music but that is lost on Rare Chandeliers. What we are left with for the most part is a skilled rapper spitting well-executed raps over good but not great beats. While that’s an admirable quality; in 2012 that’s just not enough. One thing that you can normally count on an Action Bronson project for is endless quotables, but Rare Chandeliers fails to deliver. There are a few bright spots on this mixtape that make you sad they couldn’t deliver for the entire project, like “Randy The Musical” which is a medley of 3 different songs/beats and the free associative lyrics of Bronson create three brief glimpses at three different Bronson’s. The other highlight “Gateway To Wizardry” copies the multiple beats on one song theme and has Styles P closing it out floating over a simple guitar riff. However, the rest of Rare Chandeliers is almost recycle bin worthy after 1st listen. There’s nothing wrong with sounding the same for an entire mixtape, but when that sound is as mediocre as Action Bronson on Rare Chandeliers, enjoying it thoroughly becomes near impossible.
A mixtape that appeared to be a possible classic on paper instead failed to meet even the most modest of expectations. Action Bronson rapping his most personal and “believable” lyrics is Action Bronson at his least exciting. His ridiculousness was what made him so endearing and unique, and that is why absent that Rare Chandeliers is unexciting and quickly forgotten. Overall there is little substance and even less flash which earns Action Bronson.