The music industry is full of multi-dimensional artists, but none are quite like Ariyan Arslani, better known as Action Bronson. He’s a rare trifecta — equal parts rapper, entertainer, and chef.
Bronson’s new album, White Bronco, released Nov. 1, reminded us how special of a rapper he is. Bronson keeps his Ghostface Killah-like flow on the 11 tracks with guitars, horns and boom bap drums in the background. He’s the embodiment of a rapper’s rapper — the focus is on the complex set of lyrics, not the hooks. His bars are confrontational and often hilarious.
“The style icon, ’bout to get the dough like taekwon/ Beat the pythons, when I fuck I like to leave the lights on/ I'm just a piece of art,” he raps on “Swerve on Em.”
Bronson’s rise started in 2013 when he was named to a star-studded XXL Freshman Class alongside rappers like Joey Bada$$, Logic and Schoolboy Q. He followed that up by joining another all-star cast on Eminem’s 2014 Rapture tour with Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole.
Perhaps his most famous song is “Baby Blue,” a 2015 Mark Ronson-produced track off Mr. Wonderful featuring Chance the Rapper. In this, Bronson delivers my favorite line of his: “Now I’m butt naked in the Lamborghini/ And motherfuckers can’t see me.”
Yes, his lines are raunchy, but don’t hold that against him — he’s more cultured than you might think. The man who calls himself Mr. Baklava was a professional chef for the first half of his professional career and can still be found cooking alongside well-known chefs.
His culinary skills were put to good use when Viceland hired him to do Fuck, That’s Delicious in 2016. The program has shades of Anthony Bourdain’s hit show No Reservations, with Bronson traveling and talking shop with chefs around the world. The show led perfectly into the publication of his book F*ck, That’s Delicious, which is Bronson’s take on a cookbook — as he calls it, an “annotated guide to eating well.”
His partnership with Viceland led him to star in two more shows: The Untitled Action Bronson Show and Traveling the Stars: Action Bronson and Friends Watch ‘Ancient Aliens.’ Both are as eclectic as they are entertaining and feature music, food, art and marijuana (something you might’ve been able to guess from the titles).
On the screen, Bronson has an infectiously soothing presence about him, a very different vibe than his abrasive on-the-mic persona. When he talks he enunciates every word like it is picked out of a Robert Frost poem, usually while stroking his long red-tinted beard.
Though the relationship with Viceland was likely a fruitful one for both parties, Bronson announced in late October that he was leaving the media company. “It’s reached its time. It’s crescendo-ed,” Bronson told Peter Rosenberg, citing he felt underpaid and underappreciated.
This is far from the last we’ll see of Action Bronson, however. The rapper has another book, Stoned Beyond Belief, set to be released in 2019. More albums are soon to come and new art projects like sculpting and painting will accompany them. As these projects roll out, you can rest assured there will be no shortage of suitors looking to sign this talented free agent and make him feel appreciated.