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SXSW 2013: Action Bronson raps at the Belmont -- from VIP sofa

March 13, 2013|By Randall Roberts | Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
  • Rapper Action Bronson reclines and raps in the VIP area during a performance at the Belmont on night one of the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.
Rapper Action Bronson reclines and raps in the VIP area during a performance… (Randall Roberts / Los Angeles…)

Halfway through his set at the Belmont on night one of the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Queens, N.Y., rapper Action Bronson left the stage and entered the crowd of hundreds scrunched onto the outdoor patio. Bronson, a hulking man with a shaved head and bushy beard, looks more like a dockworker than an emcee, and as he squeezed through the crowd, microphone in hand, he was easy to track by the fans watching from the balcony: Glowing smartphone screens encircled him, shooting photos and taking video.

Appearing at the Warner Sound party, a showcase of acts on the Warner Music group of labels, Bronson had just finished his sturdy cut “Strictly 4 My Jeeps,” which begins with the beat from MTume’s classic R&B jam “Juicy Fruit” before kicking into a driving riff from blues guitarist Lowell Fulsom’s “Tramp.” A killer rhythm, it was a perfect foundation on which to rhyme: “I’m from a lost land," rapped Bronson, "Spill coke on the heater/Drop a little sauce on the beater/Zero to 60 in a Porsche like a cheater.”

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Bronson, 29, has been rising for the last few years, crafting smart, detailed raps with narrative flow, a keen ear for phrasing and a thing for food. He used to be a sous chef, and has combined his passions to create tracks with volumes of culinary metaphors, as best exemplified by his excellent mixtape “Blue Chips.” Now signed to the VICE imprint through Warner, he teased selections from his forthcoming record, mixed with many shout-along gems.

At some point during his journey into the heart of the crowd, Bronson vanished -- only to appear moments later on the balcony, far removed from the stage. The throngs below rubbernecked and snapped more photos. 

He ended up right next to me, still rhyming as the beat pounded. Spotting a VIP couch with a lone woman relaxing on it,  Bronson made his way to it and reclined next to her. Both the penultimate performer and VIP, the man was enjoying the vibe while his voice pumped out rhymes through the sound system below. Some people can have it both ways. 

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Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit

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