Chef turned hip hop star
Action Bronson - Live At Barfly, London

Hitting Camden Town on a sunny Sunday afternoon like overgrown teenage fanboys on their way to their first rap show, and the Bronson mania was already thick in the air. Fuck Bloody Marys and Sunday roasts, we were gonna shun the sun and stand in a dimly lit room, drink beer out of plastic cups and jump around like idiots to underground hip hop’s newest superstar, the larger than life Action Bronson.

The twenty-eight year old ex-chef (check his cookery videos, they are hilarious) from Flushing, Queens, has seemingly become one of the most videoed underground rappers around with most of his success and ascendancy owed to his massive internet exposure. With only two years in the game under his belt, Bronson has had an absurdly rapid climb to the top and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon. Two LPs and three mixtapes already released and about three or four LPs in the pipeline, Bam Bam Bronson has been churning out material like a ma’ fucker and without any lull in quality or affirmation, as well as all being released independently without any talk of majors and their obligatory soul destroying “hit singles”. “Independent until I get offered twenty-seven million. I want that football money.”

A crowd started to form quickly in the dingy upstairs room of Barfly consisting of predominantly young men rocking LO (Ralph Lauren) shirts and New Balance sneakers (a staple of Mr. Bronsalinio) as the support act The Mak Of All Trades began. Without wanting to sound too harsh, the support was decidedly average UK hip hop fodder. The Liverpudlian MC was like a conscious hip hop Alexei Sayle, freestyleing over all the instrumentals one would expect to hear from a warm-up DJ at most hip hop nights, but it was all entertaining and I guess they play those tracks for a reason: they are fun to rap along to when you have had a couple of pints.

After the usual “Are you ready to see Action Bronson? Make some fuckin’ noise” stuff a squat, rotund, bearded gentlemen appeared from a side door followed by a small entourage, and made his way to the stage with an enormous spliff hanging out of his mouth. What ensued was nothing short of epic.

Once the front of the crowd were all nicely high (courtesy of Bronson) and after a whole bunch of coughing, Action started to spit lead like an AK-47 as he dipped in and out of the crowd running amuck like a badly behaved pit bull. Because of his stature at points you could only tell he was there by the sound of his voice and the movement of the crowd, like they were the ground and he was bulldozing through like the movie ‘Tremors’, rapping all the way down to the bar to whack 100 quid down for drinks for the crowd.

There’s a lot of footage of Bronson performing live but this is a contender for the most hype, intimate, fun performance to date. He spent more time in the crowd than on stage, while he chain-smoked zoots and distributed them amongst his fans as they rapped along to it all seamlessly.

Mega props from London, Mr. Bronson, we hope to see you again soon.

Words by Eric Thorp

Click here for a photo gallery of the gig.

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