If a sign of a genuine New Yorker is running occupational errands throughout the city, then consider Action Bronson to be Uncut Gems‘Howard Ratner. He’s always on the move. When we were first slated to meet up for this interview, I made the mistake of showing up fifteen minutes late, and Bronson was firm with me. “Do me in favor next time, don’t be late,” he said. “I got a lot of meetings. I’m always on the go.” New Yorker to New Yorker, I had to take my lumps and respect his hustle from him.
When we meet again, it’s release day for Turbo Crocodile, his best project in years. We aren’t hanging at the studio today, though. That would be too straightforward for a guy with as many interests and ventures as Bronson. Fragrances, food, and acting aren’t just side notes to a veteran rap career, they’re expansive aspects of a man who understands the wonders of life. When people say someone is more than just a rapper, it often functions as a backhanded compliment, as if a rapper is not a profound enough career to stand out on his own. However, with Bronson, it is not only an adept statement, it gets to the core of his persona, and even his music. He’s a cook, and one of the most public representatives of New York’s effervescent food culture. He knows where the best Dim Sum spots in Flushing are, as well as the Italian spot where New York don Carmine Lupertazzi of The Sopranos would pragmatically hold sit-downs with the glorified New Jersey crew.
Because of his Albanian and Jewish heritage (the Queens-raised artist calls himself a “mutt”) he knows the city’s epicurean cuisine and understands both “Inshallah” and being “wild since the Rabbi snipped it.” Bronson is just as comfortable in Flushing, Queens as he is at a fashion show promoting his fragrance from him, and he’s someone who can remember Yankee Stadium shaking when Joe Girardi hit his game-clinching triple in Game 6 of the 1996 World Series. Watching Bronson go to multiple restaurants in search of the finest cuisines made by the most ingenious chefs in the city, I see a man who was born for this. He speaks their language; the food connoisseur who raps, and the rapper who knows the most exotic foods. It’s as if Anthony Bourdain moonlighted as a bouncer at the strip club Starlets.