Action Bronson

“Heavyweight primate with a Harvard mind/Blunts filled with the citrus mixed with orange lime.” And with that, the world was introduced to Action Bronson: the Queens-bred rapper, son of an American Jewish mother and an Albanian Muslim father, and man of infinite appetites who slipped on a wet floor while working as a cook, broke his leg, and decided to focus on writing rhymes instead. Within the first few minutes of his debut, 2011’s Dr. Lecter, Bronson (born Ariyan Arslani in 1983) established himself as absurdly larger than life, somersaulting out of helicopters, daydreaming about subway trains with hot tubs, eating food you’d never heard of in amounts you couldn’t imagine—or, as he put it on “Ronnie Coleman,” “Life is a smorgasbord to me, and I’ma overdo it.” If some rappers fashioned themselves after gangsters and movie villains, Bronson was an X-rated cartoon character or a pro wrestler—a volcano-like exaggeration of ego. In his lyrics, a simple image could be flipped into something decadent and surreal, at once super-specific—“I’m butt naked with the Uzi on Broadway/My haircut is like Dominican folk art” (on “Irish Freestyle”)—and intoxicating to imagine.

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