One of hip-hop's do-no-wrong stories of 2012, Albanian Queens-native Action Bronson put out Blue Chips for free and followed it up with Rare Chandeliers last year. He signed to Vice Records and made countless critics' year-end lists flowing unpretentiously on typical rap fare (girls, chronic, hookers,) and his own (food, obscure athletes, food). We caught up with him backstage at Philly's Blockley Pourhouse to learn about oxtail, weed and uh, Mac Miller. Oh, also, he's a chef.
So what was the best thing you ate all year?
This past couple weeks I was in Milan, I had a risotto with a seared bone marrow and a veal reduction on top–it was amazing. That was the best thing I had all year for sure.
What about the best thing you cooked?
I made some oxtails the other day as a matter of fact, fucking amazing. I didn't think it would come out as good as they did, but they sure did come out amazing.
Why didn't you think they would?
Uh…I thought I was rusty.
But I've still got the touch.
Blue Chips ended up on nearly as many rap lists as Kendrick's album. Seeing how you and Party Supplies left in the mistakes and stuff, did you have any idea it would blow up like it did?
Not really mistakes…but uh, I didn't know people were gonna like that shit just because it's so different and it doesn't sound like anything else. It was a mixtape, you know? It was better than people's albums. [Laughs] I hope that my real album does as well.
Is that something you worry about? Lots of rappers these days get more praise for the mixtapes than the album once they're finally in stores.
Not really, because I put out so many different projects, so many different projects I've put out for free…I'm not really worried about anything to tell you the truth. Things are progressing just the way they should be. If I don't sell, it won't be the end of the world. I'll still be able to do my music and still make money. If people felt the way they say they do and the way they tell me, then they should fucking buy it. It should do pretty good. I don't know what kind of…like Kendrick, he has Dr. Dre behind him. I don't have Dr. Dre. Dr. Dre was like, 'This is the guy. He's next.' I guess we don't have this potential to do the same as him but I'm just doing the best I can.
Well, you're on the A$AP Rocky CD.
Yeah. What does that mean?
You have people in your corner blowing up at the same time…
Oh yeah yeah yeah.
Although New York altogether's coming back into the game.
I mean, yeah, it's a good time right now. It's exciting to be a part of, to tell you the truth.
I feel like this is the biggest time for NY rap since Dipset, if not the '90s.
They were like a smash. They were amazing. [Burps] Excuse me. It just feels good to be a part of. With all this buzz around the city it's almost like a fucking sporting team that's doing well.
So you think Hot 97 will start playing their own rappers now?
Nah. Unless they make songs that, you know, go to the crowd they need. It's a business, you have to understand that. There's certain times they'll play you but unless you have that record, that hit, they're not gonna play you during the day. They're gonna play the songs that test well so listeners don't move the channel. It's all about the dollars now. I never understood that, you know, I just always heard songs on the radio and never understood what was going on. But I get it now.
What's your goal from here? You just got a deal with Vice, are you cool to stay at this level? Because you've got a pretty big crowd from only putting out your own stuff. What's the next milestone for you?
I haven't really thought of that honestly. To step from where I'm at to the next level is not that far off from now. I figure I could be here or take a half a step up and get to the next level. I'm just comfortable where I'm at, but I always want to progress, if that makes sense. That's the thing; I can't see myself like…wearing skirts and trying to be all like, wearing a wig. I'm too me. And if that's the way…let me put it this way, if I get anywhere it's going to be doing what I do and not conforming to anybody's way of living things. My way or no way.
Have you been offered any big-time things you've turned down yet?
What do you mean?
Like spots on songs you weren't cool with?
No. I've done a song with Wiz, I've done a song with Mac Miller. I've done a song with the grimiest rappers, no names, big names. There's not really anything I've turned down that I wouldn't do. If there's an opportunity then I'll go for it. And I'm gonna do it my way. I'm not gonna fucking cheese it out just to be on some shit.
So were you a Mac Miller fan?
I'm a fan of him. I like him. I'm starting to–he's making better music now. I didn't really enjo…I've never actually, I'm not gonna front, I didn't listen to him.
But you think he's getting better?
I do. I do think he's getting better. He's on a mission to let motherfuckers know he can rap.
So what was it like making the “Bird on a Wire” video with Riff Raff?
It was a trip. He's a character, he's a trip man. Yeah, but he's fun.
Who rolled the giant jays that are hanging out of your mouth in it?
I roll all my joints. Always. Of course. Can't let anyone roll your joints for you. I take pride in that shit, it's like cooking. It's a skill.
You've done tapes about cooking so are you gonna do one about rolling?
I don't even smoke weed anymore, today was the first day I smoked weed in a while.
What was the occasion?
I don't know. I really think that's what knocked me the fuck out. I'm used to smoking my pen all day long, got immune to that. Just smoked a J with some hash in it and I just got fucking trashed.
How long since you last got high?
Well I'm just not cigging up. I'm smoking the concentrate, THC, you know? Just not smoking the actual weed. The most I ever went was six months without smoking, since I was 16.
Where were you just at?
Queens, sleeping at my house. I do shows off and on all year long.
Is it always off and on?
Yeah, I do stints of three weeks, two weeks. Because of my style of rap, I'd say after 13 shows I'm torched. I need some time to rest in between. I haven't done any crazy 40 days…not sure that's for me yet.
And you've got to see the family.
Have your kids heard your music?
Course they have.
You don't have to shield all the curse words?
They don't listen to 'em. My daughter says she doesn't like when daddy curses. They're gonna grow up to be rational fuckin' reasonable human beings.
What rapper would you most like to work with in 2013?
I just want to do a song with Kool G Rap. That would be dope.
Have people finally calmed down with comparing you to Ghostface?
It's whatever. At the end of the day it doesn't matter.
It's a pretty big compliment at least.
It's really not…I don't have a feeling one way or another about it. Somebody's always gonna compare you to somebody, fuck it. I'm fine with a Ghostface comparison.