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Monday, June 14, 2021
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Queens rapper Action Bronson, born Ariyan Arslani, is a jack-of-all trades, with a 100+ lb weight-loss as the latest stud on his belt.  

Queens get the money: The fascinating life of Action Bronson

Action Bronson is a true Renaissance man. No, he’s not the only New York rapper to expand his repertoire past the recording studio. A$AP Rocky, out of Harlem, is a globally recognized fashion icon who also acted in several films, most notably Rick Famuyiwa’s 2015 flick Dope. Jay-Z, out of Brooklyn, was a partial owner of the Nets and was instrumental in getting them to relocate to his home borough. Regardless, Action Bronson — born Ariyan Arslani — is a man of mystery with a seemingly never-ending supply of innovations up his sleeve. From movies to books and fitness to food, Bronson is an assorted, frequently stoned bundle of energy that perfectly represents the diversity and hustle of the city he hails from.

Stop me if this sounds familiar: before his hip-hop career took off, Action Bronson was a high school dropout. While his adult life got off to a decidedly stereotypical start, Bronson would end up paving his own road to success by doing what he loved. The pride of Flushing, Queens began to pursue his passion for food, soon after his formal educational career ended. Bronson learned how to cook from his mother, working in his family’s Mediterranean restaurant before going to culinary school to learn the finer nuances of the profession. 

After culinary school, Bronson worked as a chef in various restaurants around New York City before a leg injury altered the course of his life forever. Bronson’s broken leg made him unable to continue working in the hustle and bustle of a New York City restaurant, so he transitioned from the kitchen to the studio. He began to accumulate underground rap acclaim in 2011 and made his major-label debut with his 2015 project, Mr. Wonderful. The real intrigue of Action Bronson, however, comes from his ever-diverse body of work and persona that spans countries, professions and lifestyles.

Despite his aforementioned dabbling across various industries, Action Bronson is known first and foremost as a rapper. His music is heavily inspired by golden age, 90’s boom bap-style rap that reigned supreme during Bronson’s adolescence. He frequently works with renowned producers like The Alchemist and Statik Selektah, providing Bronson with old-school beats that keep his sound classic yet innovative. Bronson routinely pays homage to the hip-hop days of the old, with ad-libs like “Queens get the money” — a line used by 90s Queens rap group Mobb Deep, among others.  

Bronson has been steadily putting out music for a decade, and like most artists that have survived that long, he doesn’t submit to trends or tailor his music to what’s currently sitting atop the charts. Lyrically, he avoids filler and flows well over every style of beat. Bronson has clocked in some high-profile features, with names such as Chance the Rapper and the late Mac Miller. Nonetheless, he likes to keep it local more often than not, employing New York City musicians and personalities like A$AP Rocky, Meyhem Lauren and Big Body Bes.

If Action Bronson has demonstrated anything over the last decade or so, it’s that he has many true loves in this world. High atop the list, perhaps unsurprisingly, is food.  We already know that Bronson had a professional career as a chef before music, but his success in the music industry wouldn’t cease his passion for cuisine. In fact, Bronson used his success to stay true to his love for food, hosting the hilariously ridiculous Viceland food travel show "F*ck, That’s Delicious." Regularly joined by The Alchemist, Meyhem Lauren and a few pre-rolls, Bronson traverses everywhere from Whitestone, Queens to Auckland, New Zealand.  

He had another Vice-produced TV stint, "The Untitled Action Bronson Show," that ran for one season as a similarly unpredictable, raunchy cooking show. Bronson isn’t shy about his culinary background, known for often rapping about food and having albums titled Well Done and Lamb Over Rice, the latter a staple of New York City street Halal food.

Most high school dropouts probably would’ve called it a day after securing multiple food shows and a record deal with Warner. Not Action Bronson. He’s written a book, "Stoned Beyond Belief," a treatise and guide to marijuana. He has a memoir expected to release in March of 2021. He’s had a bevy soundtrack credits including the movie "Suicide Squad" and Rockstar Games’ "Grand Theft Auto V." He’s also been on camera himself, appearing in "The King of Staten Island," "The Irishman" and playing himself in "Game Over, Man!" For those still unimpressed by his minor appearances in Hollywood, on top of everything else, Bronson announced a new Fragrance in October, Splash by Baklava. His caption for the post on his instagram revealing the latest product birthed by Bronson’s mind reads, “Coming soon because [I’m] bottling each one by hand by myself ... Man, Woman, Whatever ... Splash.”

Clearly, Bronson is a multi-talented, well-rounded man. But his most impressive feat may be one he recently accomplished, not in the studio, the kitchen or on set, but in the gym.  Bronson was featured in Men’s Health in December, having lost 125 pounds in 2020. He may still carry the nickname “Mr. Baklava,” but his days of clocking in at 400 pounds are long gone.  

According to Bronson, he decided a change needed to be made after his son was born and a scale told him he was still a beefy 375 pounds. He allegedly wakes up at 4 a.m. to workout, and he has seen stunningly quick results. “There’s no f****** magic tricks,” Bronson told Men’s Health. “It’s just hard work and f****** dedication.” He has since trimmed his iconic viking-esque beard, and his jawline can now be added to his long list of things he can be proud of.

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