“I’m just sitting at the crib, watching sports highlights,” Action Bronson says, erupting into a coughing fit. And so starts a brief but meandering phone conversation with the rapper who could be poised to become the millennial generation’s Anthony Bourdain.
A prolific multi-tasker with an outsized persona, it’s easy to picture the rapper on a couch somewhere in his native Queens, smoking weed and catching up on sports while fielding calls from journalists the day before his 15-date tour starts. These days, he’s almost always working.
In addition to the Blue Chips 7000 tour that stops at The Warfield on Saturday, Oct. 28, the former-cook-turned-rapper debuted his late-night cooking program, The Untitled Action Bronson Show, this week on Viceland. He released his first cookbook in September and he is continuing production of his popular TV food travelogue F*ck That’s Delicious and a SnapChat dating show.
“It feels like a total eclipse of the heart,” he deadpans, once the coughing fit subsided. “This moment of my life is like a total eclipse of the heart.”
If not a total eclipse, it could be a pivotal moment for Bronson. His food-related endeavors have spread his reach outside of the hip-hop circles that first put him in the international spotlight. In addition to filling mid-sized concert halls, he’s cooking baked ziti pizza on late-night TV with Seth Meyers, appearing at the New York City Wine and Food Festival, and stopping by the trendy Wexler’s deli in Santa Monica.
Bronson has some local favorites, as well. In a January episode of F*ck That’s Delicious, he sits down for a meal at State Bird Provisions and noshes a to-go order of Z & Y’s explosive chicken on a pier near the Bay Bridge. He calls the dish “the chicken of all fucking chickens” in the preface to a recipe in his cookbook that he also shared on The Rachael Ray Show.
“I love that fuckin’ chicken, man,” he says. “Once I discovered that chicken, it was like a marriage. I’ve actually searched for Szechuan peppered chicken throughout the entire world wherever I go.”
On the music front, Bronson takes a hip-hop classicist’s approach with his latest release Blue Chips 7000, the third installment of a series that was previously exclusively produced by Brooklyn beat-maker Party Supplies. In the latest edition, we find a handful of producers supplying a menagerie of sample-heavy beats for Bronson’s dexterous flows. It’s an approach with roots in early hip-hop that has waned as clearance fees have made sample-based music cost-prohibitive for many artists.
“I like music that starts with a backbone,” he says. “Nowadays, a lot of shit is just computer buttons. You don’t even need an instrument.”
The beats on Blue Chips 7000 are full of jazz, funk, blues, and reggae motifs while Bronson’s spins stream of conscious narratives. Here, too, food is a recurring theme, along with pop culture references ranging from blockbuster hits Karate Kid and Ghost to Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor.
“I like an old record and the crunchiness, and the way it’s mixed,” Bronson says. “I like when the bass is running through my fucking backbone, and then the piano comes in and melts my face, and the guitar makes my head explode. I like shit like that.”
Action Bronson, Saturday, Oct. 28, 9 p.m., at The Warfield. $30-$40; thewarfield.theatresanfrancisco.com/