Action Bronson: A Man of Many Talents
Action Bronson cannot be tamed … literally. Whether it’s his flourishing music career, culinary expertise, strong pen game or dry sense of humor, the all-around creative and entrepreneur has made a name for himself in the rap game and beyond. Hailing from New York where hip-hop was birthed, the “Actin Crazy” rapper prides himself in witty bars, clever punchlines and meaningful lyrics for the soul.
In between being a father and balancing all 10 endeavors on his plate daily, real name Arian Asllani finds time to polish his newest project titled “White Bronco,” inspired by a dream where he saw himself as a singular white bronco among many wild horses. Serving as his first indie project since 2012, the 11-track album sees a content Action Bronson, free from any constraints, distractions or negativity.
If you need a refresher, Bronson’s “Baby Blue” music video with Chance The Rapper might be a great place to start. The visual, which has earned over 26 million views and counting, showcases his ability to cater to the mainstream light while adding humor and role-playing.
Don’t miss his show at The Observatory on 3/15!
For those who don’t know, who is Action Bronson?
I’m not into describing myself. I’m more of a visual, you have to see me to believe it. I can’t really describe everything about myself. It’s hard to tap into things that are good and describe then because you sound boastful, but I’m a pretty great guy. [laughs]
Where do you fit in the realm of hip-hop and R&B?
I’m in my own genre. I transcend any genre of music and I’m able to just be me. That’s what I go for.
Something that I can appreciate about your music is that you’re actually spitting real life content.
For sure. There’s humor in it, there’s all types of things. It’s a variety. I’m a very complex person so you’re gonna be able to tell that with the music that I make and my choices in life. If you really get to know me, I make crazy choices.
Being from Queens, how does that play into your life and career?
Being from Queens, there’s nothing like it, because you get a scholarship in world culture. Being exposed to every type of person there is in this world from the day you come out, there’s nothing like that type of upbringing.
At what point did you realize this music thing was for real?
When someone paid me a thousand bucks to rap on a song. This was in 2010 when my leg was broken. I was laying and recovering when somebody from Australia sent me the email. He paid me a thousand bucks through PayPal. Straight up, that really got the ball rolling.
You just released your first indie album in six years. How has the fan reception been?
Listen, I have 11 projects out. I have “Bon Appetit ….. Bitch!!!!!” I have “The Program.” I have “Dr. Lecter.” I have “Well-Done.” I have “Blue Chips.” I have “Saaab Stories.” I have “Blue Chips 2.” I have “Rare Chandeliers.” I have “Mr. Wonderful.” I have “Blue Chips 7000.” I have “White fucking Bronco,” and a million songs in between.
How’s the fan reception from White Bronco been?
People have been loving it. It’s been held in very high regard.
What was the creative process for White Bronco? How long did it take you?
The creative process took me a couple years because I’m doing all kinds of things. I’m rapping a little, sculpting, painting a lot. So while I’m doing all these things, I’m rapping also.
How has your sound (or life) evolved since “Blue Chips 7000″?
It evolves every single day. I become another person every day. We’re butterflies. We start as a moth or whatever it’s called, then it turns into something beautiful. Then we fly away, and then we fucking die.
Since you’re doing so much (food, writing), was that the reason for the hiatus?
It’s not really a hiatus. Because nowadays, people just engulf so much shit that if you don’t drop a project every fucking week or every other month, it’s considered you fell off. I just put something out last year. I put a lot of effort and time into it. My rhymes take a while. It doesn’t take two seconds to just go in there drunk like “blah blah blah.” That’s it.
Is music #1 out of all these things that you’re doing?
It’s hard to say what’s #1. There’s always a rotating one. It’s whatever I’m feeling at the moment, but music is always in my life. No matter whether I’m making it or listening to it, it’s the main soundtrack to our lives.
You dropped the visual for “White Bronco” a month ago. You mention being inspired by a dream. Can you elaborate on the metaphor?
It’s just being untamed, because “bronco” is actually not a horse. It’s a word used to describe any type of wild beast. They were actually describing horses as broncos because they were untamable and wild. They were running free. That’s really where that comes from. It’s obviously a play on the OJ jeep because it’s a fucking well-made car. There’s no doubt about that.
You say on the outro, “I’m just out here living my best life, but somebody always tryna fuck it up.” Talk about your haters.
I don’t even give a fuck about a hater. It’s true, somebody’s always trying to fuck it up. You just gotta maneuver around them. “Not from me!” Stiff arm, stiff arm, serve a little bit.
Talk about linking with Rocky on “Swerve On Em.”
Me and Rocky have known each other for a long time, even before either of us got on, in the clubs in NYC and shit like that. Just two New York icons of this modern era linking up and it was about that time. He had me on his first album, on “1 Train.” He put together a great song, and we haven’t been on a song since.
Do you guys sit there and reminisce on your journeys?
I do that with other people, but with Rocky, we just chill. When you see him, you see him and when you don’t you don’t. It’s like the same thing with me, I don’t really give a fuck about chilling with a lot people. But when you see them, it’s all love.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
Whatever they take from it. But just always know that I’m passionate. My heart’s always in it. My conscience is always there. For fans, I do it for me and I really love that you guys love it too, but this is my therapy.
“Prince Charming” has you in your happy place. Talk about these feelings of elation and being content.
It’s not only elation, it’s boastfulness. Letting motherfuckers know that “you think we can do all this television shit, but you’re not fucking with me in rap.” I can take years off but when I come back, you sit down. I found love, there’s no doubt about it. My relationship with my partner is amazing, I love my soon-to-be wife. There’s no doubt about it. Certain people are made for each other and we are. We were meant to find each other and we’ve been together in past lives for sure.
What does she do?
She’s a psychologist.
Does she practice on you?
Every day. [laughs] Every minute, phone call, every text, she’s practicing.
How’d you guys meet?
She came to one of my concerts a long time ago. I just saw her and her friend outside afterwards, and we talked. Then I didn’t see her for years. She popped back up at this one block party I was at, and we saw each other. I mean, it was love when I first met her. It was something about her. Years later, we’re a family.
Talk about your decision to part ways with a major label and remain independent. What is your take on the music industry?
It’s not always your decision. My decision is I want money. I want to be paid properly to do the work that I do. If you don’t wanna pay me, then I’m gonna do whatever I gotta do. I don’t complain. I’m a survivor, I do what I want. So I just went and did what I wanted.
The label wasn’t giving you money?
It’s not money per say, it’s just overall sentiment and care. I’m the only one that’s gonna care for myself the way I need to. To leave it in someone else’s hands is kind of shitty, especially if they’re not paying you the way you like them to.
What are some goals for yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
Just create the best stuff I can and leave a legacy. That’s it. My goal is to wake up every morning and have that same drive that I do every morning that I wake up now. My goal is to never lose that drive.
What did you do with your first advance?
It wasn’t really that much. When I signed at first, I did like a bullshit deal. I bought a BMW 525i Wagon, which is now a M5 wagon. I upgraded. I got it tatted on the arm. I’m low maintenance. I spend money in lavish ways that are not adorned on my neck. I’ve had a lot of incredible cars, but I don’t really care about that shit. I’m organic. I’m of the earth. That’s all I need, some clay. Give me some clay and I’ll make building.
How important is social media for your career?
I mean, it started it. Social media didn’t rap for me, but it was definitely a place for me to post things and have people check shit out. It was definitely a big part of the come up. Now, it’s the main thing for everybody. It’s everyone’s life. It’s fucking sick. That’s how I feel about it honestly, it’s sick. It’s sick that we all have to have our phones in our hands nonstop. Sometimes, I find myself just going through people’s stories, I’m not even looking at it. I’m just clearing my stories. I’m like OCD like that, there has to be no red circles. I’m not gonna look at the shit! I’m just clearing it.
It’s wild, I know. That’s what’s upsetting to me, the fact that my mind makes me do that. It’s like why am I doing that? Why does it even matter if I’m clearing the stories or not?
3 things you need in the studio?
I don’t really need shit. I just need my notepad and a Bic pen. It has to be a Bic Crystal. I only write with Bic Crystal.
The smooth roll …
Exactly. And it’s kind of rugged in the hands, so it feels structurally there.
Nothing else? A third thing?
There’s always a third thing. I always need a third thing. There’s weed/hash, then I need a third thing like kief. Let’s just leave it as a “third thing.”
Favorite song to perform in a set?
“Terry” is my favorite song to perform right now. It’s been for a long time. It makes me feel good. The Alchemist demolished that beat. I’m just happy that beat was mine. I can look back on my career and be like “damn, The Alchemist made that one for me.”
Talk about performing the Mac Miller tribute show in Los Angeles.
That was a beautiful thing they put together. It was meant for a good cause and it was emotional. It was good seeing a lot of people that we haven’t seen in a long time. Reconnecting. We took a beautiful picture with everybody. It was me, Thundercat, J.I.D., Vince, Schoolboy, Anderson .Paak, Earl Sweatshirt. It was a beautiful picture.
Can you talk about your relationship with Mac?
He was a really great kid. He was respectful of everybody. He was very musically inclined. We respected each other very much. That was my man, I don’t really know what else to say. That was my fucking guy.
Favorite food spot in L.A.?
I don’t even know right now. Last night, we had some Mel’s Diner. It was kind of fire. The chicken sandwich at Mel’s was kind of on hit.
Action’s manager: I got the Munchie plate.
I feel like that’s your type of plate.
That’s not me. I don’t like everything on one plate. I like to order separately and have 15 dishes to nibble on. I am a little picky. I definitely talk shit, but I’ll still eat it.
How much does your lady enjoy your cooking skills?
She loves it. She’s enamored with my culinary ability.
Talk about “The Irishman” coming out in 2018.
The Irishman is going to be crazy. It’s going to be one of the greatest movies in the history of movies. We have legends that have been on film together, but they might not ever be on film together after this. You never know. To even be for two seconds in a movie of that capacity is unbelievable. I got directed by Martin Scorsese. I did a scene just me and Robert De Niro. Me and Bobby Cannavale are fucking boys. I feel good about things.
What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
Every encounter I’ve had with a fan has been a good one, because people get it. I feel like my fans get it. I love when fans come up to you and they appreciate these things that in your mind are things that are ill. Like “oh shit, I can’t believe you just mentioned that. We’re on some shit together, I feel you.” Shit where they’re like “yeah I felt that.” I’m like “yeah, that’s why I said it.”
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
D’Angelo and Erykah Badu. D’Angelo is my favorite singer of all time.
D’Angelo. [laughs] Remember back in the day D’Angelo did “Lady” remix with DJ Premier and AZ? That’s what I envision for our collaboration. AZ did an unbelievable verse.
What advice do you have for an aspiring Action Bronson? Someone who wants to do what you do.
Don’t look to do what I do. Use the inspiration and make it your own. Put your own spin on it and make it yours. Don’t follow in anyone else’s journey. Follow your own journey because it’s unique and special to you. It’s going to be that much more special.