Thanksgivukkah Was Made for a Jewish Rapping Sous Chef From Queens
Action Bronson and his celebratory one-man carnival make the new ‘Blue Chips 2’ tasty ear-stuffing
If rappers are the new rock stars, and chefs are the new rap stars, then Action Bronson is the icon that America deserves—a 300-pound, Vice-signed, matzo-ball-built, THC-vaporizer-toting, biblically bearded former sous chef turned scatological and surreal rapper. Born in Queens, of a Jewish mother and Albanian father, he is a quick-witted salt of the earth performer who is more apt to use fleur de sel than Morton’s.
Blue Chips 2, released this month, is the excellent sequel to last year’s similarly excellent original. It’s titular inspiration comes from a ’90s college basketball corruption saga best remembered for Nick Nolte gifting a tractor to a hayseed recruit, and for a Cajun named Neon, played by Shaquille O’ Neal. It did not spawn a second film, but it indirectly led to the Orlando Magic trading for Penny Hardaway (long story).
But don’t mistake this for a concept album. Bam Bam (one of the performer’s many nicknames) is far too flushed off wax to get bogged down in longform narrative. These are the whimsical visions of your stoned but articulate friend, who frequently interrupts his own stories for smoke breaks, which are followed by coughing fits and sudden shifts of inspiration.
Bronson immaculately hammers home a few themes: He is gorgeous with continental cheekbones, he knows the difference between Mario Batali and Anthony Bourdain, he can back flip into a Jaguar with the nimble agility of a young Kim Zmeskal. On “9.24.13,” he’s a sheisty fixer plopping satchels of cash at Patrick Ewing’s feet in exchange for blowing a game-winning Eastern Conference Finals finger roll.
Bronsolino (another one of his nicknames; his real name is Ariyan Arslani) has mastered the art of rapping about ridiculous settings with obscene color. There are others with more bounce, technical agility, conceptual imagination, or pop-savvy hooks. But no one in contemporary rap better embodies Raymond Chandler’s adage that “style is a projection of personality.” He’s a one-man carnival, barking at passersby to risk their money, wielding a sledgehammer like a strong man, stealing your girl and having his way with her atop the Ferris wheel. There’s something obviously formulaic to his references, yet they never fail to amuse. He rhymes “steer the whip with one arm like Jim Abbot” with “chocolate sauce over thin rabbit.” He intones that “in my past life I was a rabbi,” with an accent as thick as a bialy.
His fellow ringleader, Brooklyn producer Party Supplies, helps ensure things never lack roller-coaster entertainment value. There’s no need to overanalyze when it’s an inherently great idea for Action Bronson to rap over the instrumentals from “Tequila,” “Sledgehammer,” “Sussudio,” and Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason.”
There are rappers with whom you’d want to have a beer or smoke a blunt, but Bronson may be the first rapper with whom you’d want to have a celebratory feast—and Thanksgiving is the holiday that best fits the bacchanal appeal of the Albanian-American MC. And considering the next time the holiday overlaps with the first night of Hanukkah will be 77,000 years from now, it might as well be an unofficial Action Bronson day. On the next page is a Blue Chips 2 guide—all culled from references in the new album—to the ideal menu, guest list, and gift suggestions for Nov. 28.
Bill of Fare
Harvested from lyrics in Blue Chips 2
Thin slices of cheddar cheese
Pouches of tuna
Blue ling fish, cut into paper-thin slices
Several ounces of high-powered grass
10 grams of THC Wax
Rabbit with chocolate sauce
Calf’s brain delivered from Osteria Morini
Turkey sandwiches in aluminum foil
Farm-fresh scrambled eggs with grits
Fish in Hibiscus syrup
Grilled octopus with olive oil and lemon (hand-caught off a boat)
Breasts of veal delivered from Walt Frazier’s
Steak (eaten just to make a statement)
Lamb, with a squeeze of lemon
Six ducks cooked in a wood-burning oven
Lightly battered yams
Cinnamon ginger cake
Water imported from Crystal Creek, Australia
Fifth of Hennessey
The Morehead Kappa Delta Sorority
Big Body Bes delivered in a baby-blue 1996 Lincoln Town Car
Barely legal Brazilian mamis
A Russian mistress
A Parisian Wife
A Shi Tzu
Mac Miller (bringing seasoned rice and red wine)
An Asian man playing the violin, who was taught from age 2 to never miss a note
Ab-Soul, abnormal like a unicorn
Randy Quaid wearing a turtleneck
Nuns who do drugs
The Action Bronson Hanukkah Gift Guide
Silk shirts for casino wear
Mark McGwire Shirt
A blue-and-orange Lexus
A gray Lamborghini with beige interior
Pointy shoes, like Aladdin
Brown suede vests
Marble floors imported from Connecticut
Aquamarine 1973 Cadillac
Z3 that plays nothing but U2
Twin Porsches with a triple exhaust
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In Slavko Goldstein’s newly translated ‘1941,’ Nazi-backed fascists tear through the Balkans. Yugoslavia never recovered.