Action Bronson returns to the UK for a series of sure-to-be-rambunctious live shows next week, with the rapper seemingly determined to keep things moving following his recent skirmish with Wu-Tang Clan star Ghostface Killah this past summer.
Sure, his Vice-backed culinary-themed online TV series ‘Fuck, That’s Delicious’ may have established the gourmet chef-turned-rapper as something of a cult celebrity beyond purely hip-hop circles.
But dig a little deeper beneath the cookery clips and hipster endorsements, and you’ll find that the Flushing, Queens emcee boasts a heavyweight rap pedigree and considerable stock in the game, as this selection of prime cuts ably demonstrates….
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1. ‘Terror Death Camp’ - Action Bronson and Statik Selektah feat. Meyhem Lauren, Maffew Ragazino & AG Da Coroner
“Linguine linguistics that left my verbal lesson saucy/Send a message, leave you sleeping next to headless horsey/Play the plaintiff, I'mma slide off to prior engagements/Let you die in the basement/Toast wine from the time of the ancient/Turkish warriors, cobblestones in Macedonia/Albanians in Shkup never living by the book…”
With help from fellow Outdoorsmen Meyhem Lauren and AG Da Coroner, along with Boston beatmaker Statik Selektah and Brooklyn emcee Maffew Ragazino, Bronson serves up a hearty blend of culinary references, assorted barbed threats pulled straight from the Mafia playbook, and a salute to his Albanian roots.
2. ‘Northern & Roozy’ - The Purist feat. Action Bronson
“Get the wrench, spray the hydrant in the street/When I seen that special girl she had me flying on my feet/ Shirt wet, damn, I'm trying to hurt that/Two girls, one boy, want her to birth that/Years later though, we living in the moment/Caught up in the young love, kissing and the holding…”
This guest shot from London-based producer The Purist’s fine ‘Double Feature’ EP finds Bronsolini in rare contemplative mode, kicking a back-in-the-day reminisce rap about falling in love as a kid in those Flushing streets.
3. ‘Barry Horowitz’ - Action Bronson
“Ain't no ‘Cat in the Hat’/Just a cat that can rap/This is Bronson, representing Flushing, Queens on the map/Yeah, heavyweight primate with a Harvard mind/Blunts filled with the citrus mixed with orange lime…”
Whether declaring himself the ‘Intercontinental Champion’, threatening to “hit you with the dropkick [like] Marty Jannetty”, or comparing himself to Bam Bam Bigelow, Ron Simmons, Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart and countless other old school stars, Action Bronson has long mined the larger-than-life world of professional wrestling for ideas. But it’s obscure WWE jobber Barry Horowitz, and his gimmick of patting himself on the back inside the squared circle, that provided the inspiration for one of Bronson’s early bangers which would set pulses racing.
4. ‘Pool Hall Hustler’ - Alchemist feat. Action Bronson & Roc Marciano
“The scent of money familiar though/Appealing hoes/Dark shades so I can hide the way I’m feeling, moe…/Just keep it true/’Cause snitching is forbidden, boo…”
Adopting a slightly darker tone, Bronson and long-term collaborator and critically-acclaimed Long Island rapper Roc Marciano bounce lines back and forth with finesse, trading descriptions of the NY underworld while producer Alchemist’s low budget crime thriller backdrop soundtracks proceedings perfectly.
5. ‘Imported Goods’ - Action Bronson
“Orlando Magic warm-up suits and black Shaqs/'95 younger Bronson on the fast track/To blast gat, now I'm looking past that/I want the cash stack higher than the NASDAQ/I put the work in, the downtime I'm cooking lamb…”
With dreams of rap riches draped in ‘90s street couture, underpinned by a majestic loop of Diana Ross’s ‘Brown Baby’, these lines from ‘Imported Goods’ offer a vivid snapshot of Bronson’s early hunger and ambition.
6. ‘Mystic Moves’ - Shaz Illyork feat. Action Bronson, Spit Gemz & Timeless Truth
“I got the Ruger for Christmas/Scoop up your princess/My team moving rocks like Žydrūnas Savickas/Full length dinner and that consists of twenty platters…”
A trademark chop-up of arcane sports and pop culture trivia (few rappers have ever given props to Lithuanian strongman competitors) with yet more food ‘n’ weaponry drops, the subterranean stylings of this Shaz Illyork mixtape cut serve as a fine précis to the flame-bearded gourmand’s entire approach to rap.
7. ‘Pouches of Tuna’ - Action Bronson feat. Roc Marciano
“Strictly cop and go's/Until we laid in the Galapagos/Eating tacos, higher than an opera note/We never ride Civics, the Mont Blanc scripted lyrics/It's like avant garde to the critics/I throw you in that arm-bar with the quickness/Either you with me or bitch you on the shit list…”
Another convincing victory for the heavyweight Queens emcee, ably assisted once more by the supremely talented Roc Marc’. Reaffirming his rap calibre over some understated strings, Bronson’s widescreen depictions of the good life open 2012’s excellent ‘Blue Chips’ album in grand style.
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Words: Hugh Leask
Catch Action Bronson at the following shows:
13 London Roundhouse
15 Glasgow O2 ABC
16 Manchester The Ritz
18 Birmingham The Institute
19 Bristol O2 Academy 1