AUSTIN -- I asked him if he thought a career as a gymnast was in his next life. He corrected me with a playful grin as he sat relaxed in his sixth floor suite at the W Hotel in downtown Austin. “I’m a gymnast right now.”
I’ve been an avid fan of Action Bronson for two years. Most hip-hop fans I know who’ve been listening to his music as long feel a similar way. The chef-turned-rapper from Queens truly has it all -- a flow that will leave you tongue-twisted if you try to keep up, a larger-than-life personality (and physique), an unmatched sense of humor, and one of the purest, most entertaining live performances in the game.
On top of all that, his sports knowledge is as extensive as your dad’s favorite broadcaster, which makes for a hell of a conversation.
A little over a week ago, I got the opportunity to interview Bam Bam Bronsolino at SXSW. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know what to expect going in. I’ve breezed through his discography countless times, read every article on him I could find and watched all his videos. He never fails to leave a fan -- new or old -- wanting to come back for more. He’s outrageous in his carefree approach. His current Twitter name is “HOWYADOINHOWYADOIN.” Last week it was “YUNG DINNER PARTY.” You get the picture. The man can cook and rap with the best of them, but at the end of the day, entertainment is his true forte.
I walked into Action’s hotel room around 4 p.m. He was sitting at a desk with his back towards me, but immediately turned around as I got closer, got up out of his chair and greeted me with a friendly embrace and a welcoming smile. His outfit of choice? A long sleeve black Carhartt Henley and a pair of baggy gray cloth shorts -- the same articles he donned onstage at the Belmont in front of a thousand fans the previous night. Simple. We chopped it up about music, sports, life in general for a few minutes, then sat on the red sectional couch in the corner of the room and got the cameras rolling.
What ensued was nothing short of unforgettable.
Action touched on some of his most popular and obscure sports references to date (his Ruud Van Nistelrooy line in 5 Minute Beats 1 Take Raps and his Ivan Lendl line in The Symbol, to name a couple) as well as a few that fans can expect to hear in the near future -- “I mention Marquis Grissom in a new song, not a lot of people are gonna know who Marquis Grissom is (laughs) … Jay Buhner, in a song I did with Mac Miller that’s on his album.”
He talked about his athletic prowess growing up, stating that though he only “played basketball briefly, you know, because I’m short and fat,” he held his own on the football field and “won a bunch of championships in little league.”
Perhaps the highlight of the whole ordeal, though, is when a few people walked into the room mid-interview – one being Alchemist, the legendary producer who worked with Action on his latest project, Rare Chandeliers -- and offered Action one half of a sandwich they had with them. Bam Bam was hungry. The measly offer wasn’t received kindly.
Action discussed his undying love for the Yankees and Knicks, his appreciation for tennis -- particularly women’s -- and his affinity for world play soccer. He wrapped up the interview by confirming that all his sports references in his music are indeed off top, no research necessary.
On top of the interview being the most enjoyable one I’ve ever done, my conversation with Action Bronson reaffirmed what I had assumed for the past two years since the first time I heard Larry Csonka and the rest of his outstanding debut album, Dr. Lecter -- they don’t come any more genuine than Bronsolino.
You can hear the sincerity in his music. It’s creative and fun, daring yet consistent. You can see it at a live show. I did the night before the interview. He put a fan on his back while he rapped Gateway to Wizardry, then walked through the thick of the sold out crowd, climbed the stairs to get to the VIP section and sat on the sofa in the corner of the rooftop, rapping while seated until the song was through. You can feel it when you’re in his presence -- conversing on and off camera is no different. I found myself laughing an equal amount in both instances -- it was a very healthy amount.
The irony of all that realness is that it makes for the best entertainment. And Action Bronson has mastered the art of entertainment simply by being himself. He made it as a chef, he’s now made it as an artist; I don’t know when the next open tryouts for the Knicks are, but at this point, I’m not writing anything off.
All of Action Bronson's mixtapes can be downloaded for free at ActionBronson.com.