Hip-hop artist Action Bronson released his sixth studio album, “Only For Dolphins,” on Sept. 25, playing on themes of tropical luxury, psychedelic drugs and New York City.
A New York City native, Bronson has worked as a rapper, writer, chef and television host, all experiences that are reflected in his music. Bronson, a proud New Yorker, chose a contrasting tropical motif for his latest album, “Only For Dolphins.”
The album’s leading track, “Capoeira (Feat. Yung Mehico),” opens with interesting dolphin sounds leading into a saxophone solo layered over grandiose drums—all creating a sense of luxury. Furthering the track’s theme of wealth, Bronson uses the lyrics “All this marble got me feelin’ like a Roman / Pacific Ocean, to put my toes in.”
Hypnotic and dreamy, “C12H16N2” takes a groovier, slower approach than the former, mirroring the physiological effects of the titular chemical Dimethyltryptamine, better known as DMT. Bronson spotlights New York City on this track, name-dropping Lincoln Center and Tavern on The Green.
Originally released in July 2020, “Latin Grammys” pairs bluesy drums with spaced out horns to create a vibe reminiscent of New York City nightlife. I fell in love with Bronson’s flow on this track, especially with the lyrics, “My swimming trunks hold fifty racks / Don’t make me hit you with the Diddy dance.”
“Golden Eye” leads with dolphin sounds similar to those found on the album’s opening track, diverging with the introduction of a reggae beat. The jumpy pace of the track reminds me of Wendy Rene’s “After Laughter Comes Tears,” a track popularized by the trailer of “Mid90s,” a 2018 A24 film.
The album’s sixth track, “Vega,” combines a simple piano progression with monotonous drums, offering a more mysterious, stripped down vibe—a nice contrast to the rest of the album. The lyrics “As I jump from the Alfa Romeo like I was skydivin’” further brings home the album’s themes of luxury and wealth.
Ultra-‘80s-sounding “Splash” implements overdramatized, echoey vocals to advertise an imaginary fragrance by Bronson. Running just under two minutes long, the track has a sense of theatricality—an endearing quality of Bronson’s television personality.
One of my favorites, “Sergio” opens with a slow drum beat over a deep bass line and provides a melancholic take on Bronson’s life experiences. The relaxed and minimal flow of Bronson’s lyrics, “My phone blowin’ up ‘cause i been missin’ for days,” reminds me of Mac Miller’s 2018 hit, “Dunno.”
Another one of my favorites, “Hard Target” ends the album with cymbals, jazzy piano and nostalgic lyrics that all come together for a bittersweet feeling. Bronson incorporates the descriptive lyrics, “Ayo, the weed don’t even hit me like it used to / When I was youthful,” to illustrate the experience of growing up and maturing through life.
Taking into consideration the bearded, bold personality of Bronson, pulling off a tropical themed rap album was quite the feat—yet Bronson accomplished this with ease on “Only For Dolphins”. Showing obvious growth as a conceptual musical artist, Bronson has piqued my curiosity for what future life experiences will inspire his next musical offerings.