GEN F: Action Bronson

Photographer Emily Berl
February 27, 2012

Two crazy years ago, Action Bronson, the Albanian rapper out of Queens, NY, was working the kitchen at his father’s restaurant, chasing a longtime passion for food and raising babies on a chef’s wage. He didn’t even have internet access. Today he’s about to smoke half an ounce of weed, light up Twitter and buy a 5 Series BMW with money he got rhyming “bushy” with “tushy.” While all that doesn’t sound particularly hard (in the rap way or the actually difficult way), you still get the impression that this native talent could torch just about anybody right now on account of how every other hilariously easy barrage of consonants he lets loose, he leaves the hardest of skeptics with their hands over their mouths saying, Ohhhhhh SHIT. Other rappers are busy frowning. Action Bronson is laughing his ass off.

“I had no clue I could rap,” he says, “I wish I could fucking give this whole explanation of how this happened like from start to fucking finish. I fucking have no clue. I just started and it wasn’t that good, but I found myself on the mic by just being me. That’s pretty much how I treat everything. I just do it with my own flavor, my own touch.” That flavor—a smirky, don’t-give-a-fuck flow over spicy lounge jazz, rife with pussy, money, weed and food—babbles out of Bronson organically like it’s his destiny. “I’m more of a thinker and a writer than a freestyler,” he explains. “I get spiral notebooks and write with a Cristal Bic because I like the act of writing. It’s my intellectual artisticness. But I bring the book along to the studio and bang out most of what I do right there in 20 minutes. It happens on the fly. If I’m not feeling you, it probably won’t even work if we’re not fuckin’ vibing.”

This fly way or the highway mentality doesn’t lend itself to one-night stands, so Bronson makes a point of getting to know his producers and collaborators before working with them. This approach has won him a tight family of talent to draw from, including Statik Selektah, Meyhem Lauren, Lex Luger and Roc Marciano, among others who round out his Bon Appetit….Bitch!!!!!!!!!! mixtape, his 2011 debut Dr. Lecter and a whole mess of other upcoming projects. For the 27-year-old Bronson, rap is all about relationships. “One night stands with bitches are different though,” he qualifies, “I’ve always been a fucking gorgeous human being so I fuck all the time. I always fuck. But you know, now they wanna fuck more. Now they don’t even care. They just wanna call me Bronson and fuck.”

Tonight, fresh off a photo shoot with Terry Richardson (“I’m sure that put me on a lot of weirdos’ and hipsters’ maps”), Bronson is on his way to Chinatown to show love at an art opening for Smart Crew, friends from his old graffiti days. All of a sudden there’s a whole lot of eyes on his little Queens hip-hop contingent, but Bronson’s not the type to get too riled up. “This shit isn’t about feelings,” he cracks, “fuckery is what it’s all about. Fuckery is what makes me happy. It’s very nonchalant. Just talk some fly shit.”

At the end of the day, Bronson looks at rap as a job. “I never thought that this would be my life. I love rapping, but I don’t listen to rap. I like listening to things about sports. I like listening to Spanish music. I like listening to jazz. I like calm. I like down time. I don’t want drama, but you know, that’s what this game brings and I deal with it as it comes cause I’m a fuckin’ man. At this point, this is just what I do.”

Stream: Action Bronson & Statik Selektah, Well Done

GEN F: Action Bronson