The first time I laid eyes on Action Bronson I was intrigued. There’s a special air about the half Albanian, half Jewish Queens native. He’s just one of those people, you want to know more about. Gifted with piercing blue eyes, a shiny dome and a smorgasbord of tattoos, you surely wouldn’t forget him.
Before Action AKA Bam Bam (real name Ariyan Arslani) made the limelight, he cut his teeth as a chef working in restaurant kitchens across New York City. If it wasn’t for a slip whilst cooking, resulting in a broken leg, Action would still be serving up food for a living. However, whilst recovering in a cast, Action put some serious work into another passion brewing under the surface. Rap.
Turns out, writing rhymes about delectable foods, lavish lifestyles and sporting heroes goes down an absolute treat!
“Twisted off the jenkem, watching ‘Iron Chef’, the secret ingredient was lion’s neck”.
Since the music got rolling, Action has released a stack of successful albums, none more so than 2015’s Mr. Wonderful. Along the trip, he’s collaborated with some of the best in the business including Raekwon, Mark Ronson, A$AP Rocky and Joey Bada$$. Bam Bam ain’t done yet either. On top of this already interesting path to stardom, the dude hosts his own show on Viceland, Fuck That’s Delicious. In short, Action travels the globe with his clique (Big Body Bes, Meyhem Lauren & The Alchemist), dining at the world’s finest restaurants and lesser-known treasures. Not a bad way to earn a little extra dosh, not that he needs it.
Back in 2017, Action and Meyhem hit up Sydney’s famed Italian spot 10 William. Safe to say, the two were overwhelmed with delight. What Action has been able to do, so expertly, is carve out a life for himself based on true loves.
“And I’m crazy tan, from all the places that I’ve been, just from writing words with a pen”.
As you can see, the New Yorker led a busy life before COVID took hold. Seeing as we hadn’t heard new music since his 2019 album Lamb Over Rice, I honestly thought Bam Bam was holed up inside smoking buds watching Knicks highlights from the glory days. Boy, was I wrong…
Welcome to “Latin Grammys”. Action’s first serve since the world got turned upside down. Characterised by emphatic trumpets and sultry guitar licks this one’s an ode to funk and worldly flavours. This is a tropical holiday sound. The beat, originally titled “Ozersky”, lay buried on a hard drive from many moons ago. With the sad loss of his friend, food writer Josh Ozersky back in 2015, Bam Bam only thought it right to resurrect the record.
Action tells us this one’s “all about metamorphism”, breaking the mould and making change. Practicing what he preaches, Bronson has recently stunned his followers by shedding over 50 kilograms during quarantine. Earlier in the year, he looked down at the scales and was scared to see he tallied in at 165kgs! Battling weight his entire life, it seems he’s taken a real stand to correct his health.
“I was on a path that leads straight to the graveyard. Eating for sport took its toll, but it’s my fault and it’s on me, to fix me. I owe it to myself and my family”.
It’s amazing to see the entrepreneur at this positive crossroads. I remember when I’d watch his show, every mouthful of food he’d shovel in, I’d comment – “this dude’s a few meals away from a heart attack”. Thankfully, our man is still here and is on some sort of rebirth. There are also whispers Action’s working on his very own self-help book, sharing his experiences of his time on Earth and taking a closer look at what it means to be a human being. “I share stories from the past and really get into the psyche of you. The psyche of being a human being and things I think about plus the trials and tribulations, the joys, the victories”.
Running further with the theme of self-improvement, the accompanying video for “Latin Grammys” is a comedic masterpiece. It’s the 1995 World’s Strongest Man competition and there’s a competitor you may just have missed…ACTION VER MAGNUSSEN. Put together by the guys at Video Connection, the clip sees Action’s head superimposed onto the body of Icelandic powerhouse Magnús Ver Magnússon, a four time winner of the event.
Seeing as I was only three at the time, it’s apparent Magnus…or Action, however you want to look at it, smoked his opponents. From lifting cars to shoulder-pressing tree trunks, the rest are simply no match. All taking place in the Bahamas, the backdrop for the event is paradise, just that little cherry on top.
In Bam Bam’s often humorous self-deprecating style he takes a shot from the get go. “I may not be able to touch my toes but I will still fuck these hoes”. Although he aspires to look like these juiced fellows, Action keeps it real, knowing he’s still got a long way to go. You’ve gotta love an artist, who’s honest and can poke fun at themselves. The single also shouts out his next LP, Only For Dolphins, which dropped in September of 2020, via Loma Vista Recordings. If I was to guess, the title is probably an ode to the great intelligence of these mammals as Bronson has always had a keen interest in the animal kingdom.
Keep an eye on Bam Bam’s evolution, not only as an artist but as a person. People might take one look at him and pass judgement but their assumptions would be way off. Here is one very friendly, driven man. Action has ground out an amazing life for himself, through hard work, belief and perseverance. He’s a Renaissance man, a lover of good food and better company. Bam Bam has an infectious zest for life and it’s this that makes him such an adored character the world around.
“Me and my friends are fun, we enjoy life, we enjoy culture, we enjoy people, we enjoy each other, we enjoy food, and we enjoy traveling. Just to watch everyone in pure bliss and in their element, it’s captivating. It’s like watching animals migrate; just watching animals run. I love watching animals run”.
Lines like “I don’t want to be here all of my life” and “Living my life, doing what I say,” are empowering and resonate universally. There’s a Nai Palm-esque (Hiatus Kaiyote) flavour to Squidgenini’s vocal tone–each note dripping in soul and indefinable magic.
Today, we’re lucky enough to premiere the live stream of Henry’s set – a journey sprinkled with never before heard edits from the man himself. By the looks of things, this was one hell of a time at the controls as well as for those on the dancefloor.