For a man as colorful and talented as he is, Action Bronson's studio is surprisingly empty. As I walk into his Greenpoint, Brooklyn, studio in what looks like a repurposed apartment, I'm struck by the blankness of the creative workspace of the rapper, chef and television personality.
The walls are painted white. There's no art. In the living room sits a gray couch, a flat-screen TV mounted on one of the plain walls. Shoeboxes line the room, yet there's a closet stuffed with more kicks.
Bronson is in the kitchen talking on his iPhone while munching on Ritz crackers, a bong standing next to a small container of dabs. Several more bongs sit behind him on the sink. Bronson says he collects them, each one a piece of artwork.
It's how he views sneakers as well. He's accumulated about 500 pairs over the years. There's a pyramid of 150 New Balance boxes in the studio, mostly size nine and 10, that Bronson plans to send to Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
While today the Flushing, Queens, native puts on his humanitarian hat, Bronson can pivot at any time. He released his third studio album, Blue Chips 7000, in late August on Atlantic and Vice Records. He hosts two shows on Viceland, Action Bronson Watches Ancient Aliens and F*ck, That's Delicious, which shares a name with his new cookbook, released in mid-September. He’s also a diehard fan of New York sports, namely the Yankees, Jets and Knicks.
As he ate and smoked, Bronson chatted with Bleacher Report about the things he cares about most. In signature Bronson fashion, he dropped lots of F-bombs and had lots of strong opinions.
Condensed for clarity:
Bleacher Report: You're clearly a big fan of sneakers. What got you into the game, and what were your favorite kicks growing up?
Action Bronson: I had close to 500 at one point, but I've only got two feet, so what am I going to do? I sold off a lot of s--t. This has been an addiction since I was a kid. My cousins got me into that.
I have the 95s, the brand-new Deion Sanders the day they came out when I was young. Barkleys. Robinsons. Even in high school, I was collecting sneakers that nobody else had.
This was way before there was a Flight Club. Way before all of that. There was only AOL and Rotten.com. Online really blew it up to a f--king massive thing. Sneakers are like pieces of art to a lot of people and to me too. I collect pipes to smoke oil. I collect oil rigs; some would call them bongs. It's art to me. Just like sneakers. Eye of the beholder.
B/R: What are you wearing on a day-to-day basis?
AB: I love wearing Ultra Boosts. I rock the all-black version. I only rock version ones. The OG. The triple black. My shoe of choice is the solar red. The first one I bought the first day they came out. That's the one I rock. That's my shoe.
I love a fluorescent color. A good fluorescent color. It's not like I'm matching. I rock whatever and rock the f--king shoes to look good in pictures. I was up on Ultra Boosts early. I was traveling around Europe when the volts game out. The lime green ones. Nobody was buying them. I bought five pairs of them and see them online for $700. It's crazy. Version one Ultra Boosts is where the f--k I'm at.
B/R: Was there a pair of kicks that you really wanted as a kid that you weren't able to get?
AB: I was a little s--t, man. I was spoiled. I'm not going to lie. I'm an only child. My cousins loved me. My mother loved me, and I got everything. I had every f--king Barkley. Every Jordan. Every this, every that. Every f--king shoe I imagined, I had.
I loved Charles Barkley, and I have a lot of memories in Barkleys. The Barkleys that have the billets in them—the black with the white and the purple, that might've been my earliest shoe in fifth grade.
B/R: As a New York sports fan, were there any athletes in particular that you gravitated toward? Did you own a lot of Jordans?
Bronson walks over to his closet and pulls out an Air Jordan I - Jeter.
AB: The only reason I have these was because I was in the Jordan-Jeter commercial for his f--king retirement. I hated Jordan. I don't f--k with Jordan, but I will keep these forever because of Jeter.
Don't ever get it construed that I'm a Jordan fan. I want you to make this very clear. I'm a Knicks fan, and it could never happen. I'm a Knicks fan. I hate Michael Jordan. I will never wear Michael Jordans. I went to my grandfather's funeral in patent-leather Jordans when I was 13. I don't like Jordan, though. What're you gonna do?
B/R: Things haven't been going well for your Knicks. It's been an absolute mess from everything going on with Carmelo Anthony to James Dolan to Phil Jackson.
AB: They're in damn shambles. They dropped the charges on Oakley, and now he's in a f--king lawsuit with the Garden. They're f--king ruining the legacy of a legend, Charles Oakley. He was one of the only players that people adored. He's f--king adored by Knicks fan and has done nothing but be the f--king enforcer.
To do that, it's like treating Michael Jackson really badly. Not exactly, but you know what I mean. He's a cult hero for a lot of us. The Knicks fan who grew up on that, he was the guy. He's New York. Anthony Mason, RIP. Those are the guys you think about.
B/R: I mean, it seems pretty hopeless to be a Knicks and Jets fan right now.
AB: They're terrible. It's hard to be a Jets fan. It's f--king terrible. I try to stay positive, like I did with Quincy Enunwa, cause I like him, but he broke his goddamn neck. (Editor’s note: Enunwa suffered a bulging disk in his neck.) You can't catch a break with this s--t. I guess the most you can take out of it is that everyone stays healthy and get some good practice for the next year. It's depressing.
B/R: It must suck to see your teams failing that spectacularly year after year.
AB: I'm not a f--king runaway fan, though. I'll stay when times are s--tty and when times are good. I want them to sell the Jets to Mark Cuban straight up. I want them to sell the Knicks to Mark Cuban too.
I just feel like he throws money at s--t and is really passionate. He's got a little bit of crazy, and you need crazy. That means he'll pay $50 f--king trillion to get the best players in here, to get the best team. We are missing that good knowledge.
B/R: Would you want Colin Kaepernick on the Jets?
AB: I would love the Jets to sign Kaepernick. He's athletic. He's got a huge arm. He has a chip on his shoulder now and wants to get rid of the naysayers that literally chewed his ass up for no reason. He made a stand, man. These are disgusting people and who are they to judge him? That's what this country is about.
That's what this life is. Speak up if you have a feeling. Is he supposed to sit down and let s--t go down if he's feeling disgusting about it? I can't live with myself about a lot of things. I have to speak up. It's the way it is. You have to speak up. I suggest everyone speak up, and that's how things get changed. They're a martyr now, but later they'll be heralded.
B/R: That Jets' quarterback situation has been such a mess for so long too, from Mark Sanchez to Josh McCown to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty don't seem like they're working out, either.
AB: Hackenberg and Petty were thrown to the New York media wolves. Mark Sanchez took us to two straight championship games, and we ran him out of town. Championship games! Can you imagine that for the Jets? Two straight AFC championships? One game away from the Super Bowl? It's f--king crazy, man.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was a joke too. He's been a s--tty quarterback his entire career. He's a smart guy, though. Harvard. He got paid.
B/R: Your love of sports really comes across in your lyrics. You make references to random veterans like Placido Polanco and Bronson Arroyo. What brings you to do that?
AB: Nobody really knows about Placido Polanco. He was like Luis Sojo; Placido Polanco was a great second baseman and amazing. I have random knowledge of sports, and nobody is gonna be talking about Bronson Arroyo, who happens to have my name. It worked out well. Ken Caminiti, London Fletcher, you could go on and on. Those are some obscure ones.
Fletcher is probably my most random one. A career linebacker who was a great player on many teams. He was on the Redskins. Pardon me, the Skins. That is f--king disgusting, to have a sports team name that is insensitive to a people. It is ridiculous. For them to not change it, it's ridiculous. I know it's their tradition or whatever, but that's bulls--t. The name Redskins is in-your-face bad.
B/R: Do you take pride in your ability to drop random sports references?
AB: Yes. I take pride in my sports knowledge. I take pride in everything I do. It's part of me, man.
B/R: So when you hear a guy like Lonzo Ball, an aspiring rapper himself, dissing Nas like he did, what are you thinking?
AB: I mean he tried to diss Nas and you can't really diss Nas. He didn't grow up with it. He didn't grow up with Nas teaching him knowledge. He's gonna be on some other s--t.
He's listening to 21 Savage and all kinds of other s--t. It's generational. Just don't diss him. You don't diss Marvin Gaye cause you didn't grow up in his era. Marvin Gaye is still relevant, I'd say. He's a legend, and legends don't go away.
B/R: I couldn't end this interview without asking about food. When you go to the ballpark, what is your go-to meal?
AB: Off the top, the best thing ever invented is ice cream in a helmet. Straight up. There's not anything you can do that's better than ice cream in a helmet. That goes for back in the day, you'd get the team helmet from your baseball team with soft serve or Baskin-Robbins, and it was phenomenal.
Never forget that. You keep the helmets and it's a collectible. It's f--king amazing.