Like all great competitive warriors, Action Bronson uses every perceived slight as fuel to be even better. The rare rapper to marry critical acclaim with a devoted, rabid following, Action Bronson isn’t anyone’s idea of an underdog. And yet, on his brilliant new album, Cocodrillo Turbo, he sets out to prove that his lingual versatility is stronger than it’s ever been, that age has only made him a better rapper, and that anyone still sleeping on him as one of the best MCs on the planet better wake the hell up.
“I don't feel like I'm given the fucking respect that I deserve,” Bronson explains. Cocodrillo Turbo is Bronson demanding that respect. He’s gotten in the reps, constantly refining his poetic flow and relying on the instincts he’s cultivated with over a decade in the game under his belt. Now, sit back and enjoy the show.
With his boundless creativity and hustler’s work ethic, Bronson relies almost entirely on his intuitive grasp for rap music on Cocodrillo. The result is an album that is equal parts free-wheeling and tight as a snare drum. “At this point, I treat my songs like paintings. I know what they need,” he explains. “You’ve got to know what it needs to satisfy you. You can keep touching it up forever, but I’ve gotten better at realizing when I’ve captured the moment. That's it. Then I move on to the next moment.”
Cocodrillo is, in this sense, a series of sketched vignettes. Bronson is a storyteller but his songs don’t move linearly. It’s what makes him such a special narrator. There’s “Subzero,” where he raps about dropping a nine in the snow like a long lost Sopranos character before inserting a line about eschewing knives when ripping his bread…Like all men should do. It’s the sort of off-hand comment that has made Bronson equal parts charming and mercurial.
With beats from Daringer, Alchemist, and more, Cocodrillo finds Bronson diving further into the psychedelic underbelly of American culture than ever before. He’s a sociologist on two tabs of acid, Slavoj Žižek after a massive blunt. “You're not going to hear shit on my records that you'll hear anywhere else,” he explains. “So everything I touch is hand fucking picked and chosen because it pushed me to places I didn’t know existed.”
Outside of his co-conspirators behind the boards, Bronson has found unending inspiration in the water, which is where the title comes from. “I first came up with this album while in the water. I’ve spent many lifetimes in the water. I'm just a water man. I was born in the water, I'm a water sign,” he explains. The album’s centerpiece is the finale, “Storm Of The Century,” which summarizes the Bronson mission perfectly: “I’m in the ocean while it’s snows, it’s just the life I chose/ Head first, ‘cuz any other way don’t make no sense/ Like a red smurf, or confusing James Earl Jones with Fred Durst.” Bronson lets us in, but peppers the information with a one liner that will linger in your head for weeks.
Cocodrillo Turbo is the sort of record that hits immediately, but rewards deep listening and close readings; only masters can pull off a trick this intricate. That’s what makes Action Bronson peerless in the game. “I still feel like I am underrated and there's not many out there than can touch my fucking jockstrap,” he says. He pauses, and adds an exclamation point: “And that’s a fucking quote.”