Action Bronson at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom, 1-28-14 (review)

The Action Bronson tour will stop in Denver in January. Photo courtesy of the artist's Facebook.
Action Bronson brought weed candy and playful rhymes to the Denver audience at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the artist’s Facebook.

“Denver, light me up!” Action Bronson yelled as he sauntered to the Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom stage wearing a Broncos knit cap, talking up his love for Denver and demanding the Super Bowl turn the city’s way, as he’s wagered a cool five grand on that result. He looked to his right and promptly grabbed a “dab oil rig” from an audience member and lit it up with a hot nail. The Tuesday night party was going down now. He threw joints into the audience, and later, hundred milligram marijuana edibles, and the capacity crowd roared each time.

If we were living during the decline of the Roman Empire, the dopest emcee for the bacchanal would be Action Bronson.

Action Bronson, born Arian Asllani, enjoys the feast of wine, weed, women and food in a way that’s rare in hip-hop today, and it shows in his music. Tuesday night at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom, Asllani presented a smorgasbord of flows dedicated to enjoying life to its fullest — or rather, its most excessive.

You could argue that almost all rappers talk sex, drugs and being out of control. Bronson, a Queens native and former renowned chef, makes the images concrete for you whether you like them or not, spouting off phrases like “Baste the breasts with the juices,” “I’m in the Gray 8/I order rabbit like a Playmate” and “Caddy got the brown on top/Just like the crème brulee.” He’s not telling you, he’s showing you.

In “Silverado” from the 2013 mixtape “Blue Chips 2,” Bronson poked fun at his body size: “Why the f*** would I need a bodyguard/If I look like the mother f***ing bodyguard.” He flowed from topic to topic in scattershot style, touching on the moves of forgotten WWF wrestlers, the nobility of the El Camino and the styles of freshwater bass, among other things.

Besides the buoyant and playful absurdity, Bronson’s habit is to cram as many syllables in a line as possible in the stylistic tradition of masters like Kool G Rap and Rakim. His voice has an almost MCA kind of rasp. The MC half of the “Blue Chips 2 Tour” grabbed more of the spotlight live than on the recordings, maybe because the samplings of Party Supplies felt restrained, or at least less inclined toward those hard and fast changes on the mixtape.

An approach to lyrics with Allsani’s kind of humor is rare. Maybe he experiences the same sense of play in both cooking and writing, who knows. But the banquet of references he has to choose from were too numerous to track: “Hit you so hard give you cleft palate/Can’t eat nothing tougher than a chef salad.” Or, something like that.

“Tears on My Pillow” from Little Anthony and The Imperials played through the Action Bronson encore. “What ever happened to music like this,” Bronson reminisced about a song that debuted over a quarter century before he was born. He swayed back and forth to the ballad for a few seconds before tearing off on another tangent of excess.

And again there was that collision of the sublime and the profane. The debauchee convincing you that, in the words of another lyricist, a little dirt is good for you. Or maybe it was just like that break in a party where you catch your breath, and realize how much fun it is.

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Denver-based writer Sam DeLeo is a published poet, has seen two of his plays produced and recently completed his novel, “As We Used to Sing.” His selected work can be read at