Action Bronson Recalls Attending a New York Knicks Game With Rakim and Anthony Bourdain
For New Yorkers, bodegas are 'hood staples. They're always open, a meeting place where locals build bonds and connections with their neighbors and the store owners. It's a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Action Bronson, a New Yorker through and through, is looking to bring that bodega vibe all around the U.S. with Altos Tequila, putting on a series of six pop-up spots around the U.S.
Appointed as the host of Altos Tequila’s bodega series, the Queens rapper has already hosted special pop-ups in Los Angeles and New York City. He delighted the crowd with his humor and off-the-wall character, performing at the pop-ups and showing off his DJ skills. “I’m just trying to bring the fun element of the bodega to this partnership,” Action tells XXL. “Bodegas can be very entertaining at times, so I just try to bring that feel with these pop-ups I’m hosting.”
Along with teaming up with Altos, Action has been quietly working on several other business ventures, including his upcoming cookbook Stoned Beyond Belief, an Adidas Ultra Boost collab and his own line of beer called 7000. He's also managed to squeeze in time at the studio and continue working on his forthcoming mixtape, White Bronco.
XXL caught up with the multi-talented Action Bronson to discuss his partnership with the Altos Tequila, his love for bodegas, his upcoming business ventures and the impact and legacy of the late chef, Anthony Bourdain.
XXL: How did you link with Altos Tequila for this bodega pop-up series?
Action Bronson: Well, you know, we met on Christian Mingle and they just swept me off my feet pretty much. That’s how it happened and its been a beautiful relationship ever since. I'm playing. You know where we from—bodegas, the corner stores. It's like a church. It’s like the Mecca, so I was happy to be involved with this project when it was presented to me.
What does this bodega series consist of?
It’s a six-city bodega series that will be all around the U.S. We just bringing awareness to the love, the bond and the family atmosphere that bodegas are all about. Just being that community crutch. Like, if I didn't have money on me to go to the store, then I go to my man and be like, "Yo, let me get a…," and I'll come back and pay him. They also deliver dutchess, you know? So it's like the perfect marriage.
Being born and raised in New York, how important have bodegas been in your life?
I’ve had three or four different bodega owners in my life. Mister Lee was one of my bodega guys. I have another guy—I don’t even know his name, but we’ve known each other for 20 years, which is fucking crazy. Then I have two other guys that have taken care of me in the past. The bodega has always been the spot. It's where I met my friends to play video games. That’s where we stole our first candy, you know? I used to wear the fisherman vest and put the Starburst all in it because it fit perfectly in the pocket—you know everything that was in that size. Tootsie rolls in that weird size, Starburst, Now and Laters, which are slept on these days. I mean everything!
What are some essential items you pick up when you go to the bodega?
More than likely, I’m going in there for a Snapple ice tea, a Poland Spring water, a quarter water, or those beautiful things that they have at the register—the jelly rings. The candy strips. You know all that shit that they force you to have to get before you pay. It's good marketing. I love the signs when they are written wrong you know? Steak sandwiches is written Stake. The bodega is where it's at.
The culinary world lost an important figure recently with the passing of Anthony Bourdain. What kind of impact did he have on you being that you're also a successful chef?
That man was a legend. He made everybody want to get out there, travel the world and see it in a different view. I bonded with my mother over his shows. Me and my mom used to watch those and that would be our time hanging out. Just chilling, watching him and hoping one day to be in the places he was at. Everyone is doing that now and it's just a pleasure and a blessing from the stars that I’m able to do that now. I was able to experience a lot of those experiences and work in the same field. It's just sad and a big loss.
Did you ever meet him?
I did meet him, actually. We met each other at the Knick game. Me, him and Rakim were all sitting next to each other. I was with my son, Ra was with his son and I think Bourdain was with his nephew—I’m not sure, but that day was legendary for me.
You recently mentioned that you were working on a cookbook titled Stoned Beyond Belief. What will the book be about? And are you including any special recipes on there?
There's everything from banana pudding with the best olive oil to a tower of about 30 quesadillas with different things in it made into a cake. Just stacked on top of each other, a little crema inside—cheese stacked on top of each other, a little bit of bacon. And then we also got two of my mom’s cheesecakes, which is one of the best things around.
When is the book expected to drop?
That's dropping early next year.
Another venture you have in the works is your 7000 beer. Talk about the flavor and how you came up with the idea of creating a beer?
It's fucking ridiculous. I don’t like beer—I never ever grew up liking beer, nor wine, so it's crazy that I’m in that world now because its been brought to me in a way that I can relate and it makes me feel good. It's not nasty. It's not full of chemicals. It's all real, natural beautiful stuff. The beers are in collaboration with my man Brian from Stillwater Artisanal and it's a sour dry hot beer with moscato grapes, which is like drinking beautiful flowers with a little bit of citrus. It's just on another level. It’s something that you can drink every single day with food and it's phenomenal. It's mind blowing how good it came out, honestly. I don’t like bragging, but when I know it's good I know it's good. I don’t give a shit whether you like beer or not, this is something different it’ll change your idea of beer.
You recently left Atlantic Records and chose to go the independent route. How is going indie working for you?
You know, I always felt independent until I had to go talk to people and fucking go do a song and dance for someone. It just takes the fun out of everything. It becomes more of a task than it needs to be for me and I’m the type of dude that I get bored with things. My mind needs to be stimulated constantly, so you know that type of shit weighs on you—having to deal with executives and deal with someone shutting something down in some capacity. It's fucking annoying so I rather make my own rules and play by my own rules. That's how I got here, that's how I’m gonna continue to do it. You know, I gave it a shot with the label and it worked when I was making more poppy songs and shit like that, but that's not me I can’t do that shit man.
What's the update on your White Bronco mixtape?
White Bronco is coming! Right now I’m mixing, I’m doing all types if things to fix it. Make it real, real tight, but it's coming. It should be here within the next couple of months.
Will there be any guest features on the project?
I don’t fucking care about features man. Nobody hits me up to do things. I don’t hit nobody up. I’m like a fucking hermit crab, honestly. I’m sure people want to do things and I'm sure I want to do things with people, but it's just one of those things I gotta just work. I don’t have no time to fucking deal with anybody else's shit. I have enough of my own mental baggage to deal with to be able to make and create art, so I just have to deal with me.
Do you have an Adidas UltraBoost in the works?
The UltraBoost collab is coming for sure. It's a friends and family only. You know we tried to get them to do it, but I actually designed two-one of them is super, super, super rare and then one of them is gonna be even rarer.
This year will mark the 20th anniversary of Noreaga's N.O.R.E. album. What memories does that project bring to you?
Getting head in the whip and not crashing it. You listen to that N.O.R.E. album front to back and he just makes you laugh. He makes you fucking reminisce. It's just fire—it's fire.
New Music Releases for June 2017