Action Bronson on how he and Alchemist wrote Rare Chandeliers underwater while scuba diving
Before he gained notoriety as an MC with his 2011 studio debut Dr. Lecter, he was well respected as a New York chef (his lyrics are still garnished with references to foods of all sorts). But while he shares a profession with Raekown, another well known New York Chef, the Wu-Tang member he most frequently draws comparison to is Ghostface Killah, thanks to his luxurious subject matter, exaggerated persona and piercing voice.
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Bronson, meanwhile, points to Kool G Rap as one of his biggest influences, and, with few exceptions, he has perfected the boastful art of Mafioso rap that G Rap pioneered better than anybody since Jay-Z and Wu-Tang in the '90s. Since his debut, Bronson has released another studio album, Well-Done, along with several mixtapes, most recently Rare Chandeliers, produced by the legendary Alchemist. We recently spoke with the rapper about his Queen roots, how cooking translates to rhyming and how he and Alchemist wrote their new project underwater, literally.
Westword: You made your transition from cooking to rap. At what point did you realize that you were going to be able to make it professionally as a musician?
Action Bronson: When I first really sold my first show out in New York and elsewhere and I got responses from all around where I go on tour, and I realized that more than just a couple people love it.
Do you think there are any skills you've gained from being a chef that have helped you in the music business?
I mean, just being able to do things impromptu and freestyle shit, pretty much. Cooking is not a formula. Cooking is by feel, so I treat my music by feel as well.
Were you mostly a freestyler before you got into writing albums?
Nah, I'm not really a freestyler at all, honestly. I'm more of a thinker and a writer. I like actually writing on paper.
Is rap now the long term goal for you, or is it more of a means to an end?
I dunno. We'll see how far I can take this, and then I'm sure there will be other opportunities that arise. I won't say no to other things, you know? I definitely want to broaden my life and that contains just a box of rap music.
Why did you choose the name Rare Chandeliers. What meaning does that have?
You know, it's just we're special people, you know? Me and [Alchemist] are very special humans, and we should be treated like a chandelier that's so rare.
Can you explain some of the artwork that's going on on the cover? It's a pretty diverse range of things.
You got the wizard in the back, aka Alchemist, overseeing everything. You got me with the wolf. You got the girl with the knife hand holdin' sausage. You got the alligator with the gun. You got the...[laughs] the midgets jumpin' some dude with a Fu Manchu mustache. And you've got the Asian-looking fellas in the BMW with the guns. It's just a cover that's pretty much how the album sounds. I wanted everything to tie in together and send that message.
How would you describe that sound? What were you trying to achieve?
Vigilante. I'm a rap vigilante. I'm everyone's hero. I'm the good guy. I kill all the bad guys.
Yeah that sort of came through in your video for "The Symbol."
So that's sort of how you picture yourself as this sort of Blaxploitation...
Nah, not even Blaxploitation. More like Charles Bronson in Death Wish, you know? I'm like Seagal in Out for Justice. I'm a one man wrecking crew -- I'm out for justice.