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Breakthrough Jew – Action Bronson

Nobody raps about food like New York chef-turned-hip hop star, Action Bronson

By: Anthony Marcusa
Published: March 14th, 2013 in Culture » Music » News
Action Bronson

Hot, hip, and heady, the next wave of Jewish artists and influencers has already arrived. This is Breakthrough Jew, your weekly showcase of those on the verge of discovery and ready to be a regular figure in pop culture; setting trends, redefining genres, and simply getting it done-whatever ‘it’ is. These days, it’s not enough to know what’s hot now; you need to catch someone when they’re just starting to simmer.

Featuring those in film, fashion, food, and beyond, we’ll find the story before substance is obscured by style, before hype meets backlash, and before talent and purpose gets lost in a maze of Internet chatter. See an artist in the cozy bar before they hit the amphitheater, dine at a chef’s new restaurant before the line begins, and catch a young writer’s work before the demands of ratings and longevity encroach.

Follow our lead and we’ll follow yours – send us tips or suggestions via email, comment below or tweet us @ShalomLife, as we explore the Jewish landscape for pop culture pioneers.


Name: Action Bronson

Age: 29

Hometown: Queens, New York

Breakthrough Cred: Raps about food

Food. Rap. Action.

Combining those three interests may seem unnatural to most, but one look at Action Bronson, often illustrated or filmed wearing an odd hat, toting a gun, or surrounded by scantily clad women, and well, it still seems strange.

Arian Aslanni, known better by the moniker Action Bronson, is a 29-year-old rapper from New York City, unique and memorable in a city immersed in culture and music. A chef by vocation, this foodie is a native of Queens where he grew up with his Albanian father and Jewish mother. Now a rising rapper, he has left the kitchen for the stage while still holding onto his passions.

With a collection of independent albums, EPs, singles, and collaborations to his credit, Bronson infuses his past profession into his new one, peppering his lyrics with food-love, and dishing out rhapsodies on his favourite dishes (and allowing for a flood of food-themed puns to be added to the mix in stories about him). He was a student at the Art Institute of New York City’s culinary program and a chef at numerous restaurants in the area before gaining fame as a different kind of artist.

“No one raps about food like I do," he told Rolling Stone Magazine in 2011. "I rap about fine dishes – like, all kinds of things that only real chefs and real foodies are going to know about.”

Two of his albums in particular, Well Done and Bon Appetit, have lengthy track lists and numerous food-based songs, including ‘Cocoa Butter,’ ‘Chili Chicken Hakka Style,’ and ‘Dabble in Truffles.’ His 2011 video for ‘Shiraz’ begins with the frumpy and jovial New Yorker shopping at an Italian deli, following his movements there and around the city in an ode of sorts to the full-bodied red. Between two lines about having sex, he relishes, ‘aged wine got me spinning like a dreidel.’

In addition to cuisine allusions, this wry and witty rap artist has much to say about some of his other passions, equally universal, offering up songs about weed, wrestling, and more sex. A gentleman of generous proportions, Bronson has a giant scruffy beard and what could be described as far less hair on his head, often covered by a baseball cap or toque. Despite his imposing presence, and penchant for the explicit, there is an inviting aura around Bronson, a man possessive of both restraint and self-deprecation (see his high school yearbook photo).

His music - rap akin to New York City in the 90’s, and a voice reminiscent of Ghostface Killah (even though Bronson is already tired of that comparison) - is at its best when he is less careful about his image, and more fast and loose. His latest release, Rare Chandeliers, in collaboration with Boston producer The Alchemist, has been well received by critics, but if this were a TV show, it’s the more methodical second season to a wild, imaginative start.

As a listening guide, first check out his full-length debut Dr. Lecter¸ released in Spring of 2011, and then take a listen to Blue Chips. It’s an album that showcases familiar themes with tracks like ‘Tapas,’ ‘Hookers at the Point,’ and ‘Steve Wynn,’ a piece where he compares himself to the Vegas mogul, as well as Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky, John F. Kennedy, and Hercules. He has proven to be dynamic and true to himself, with a defined character and a great body of work from which to sample.

Bronson continues to evolve and experiment, belting out track after track, collaborating with other artists, and if Twitter can be trusted, opening up a bistro in his neighbourhood within a year.

For more information or to download his music, visit www.actionbronson.com or follow him in the Twitterverse @ActionBronson.

Action Bronson will be playing in Toronto on March 21st at The Hoxton. Full tour schedule here.

Related articles: Breakthrough Jew, Jewish, Action Bronson, Food, New York, Rap, Hip Hop, Rare Chandeliers, Dr. Lecter, Blue Chips, Queens
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