As a native born Queens kid, I have a particularly interesting relationship with my home borough. I’ve joked that it’s mostly a hate/hate relationship but in reality it’s probably much more along the lines of that embarrassing relative who’s a drunk or a drug addict that you can talk shit about – but as soon as someone else does that, you want to knock the offender out cold. However, Queens has always been the home borough of some of the best emcees of the face of the earth including the likes of Kool G. Rap, Nas, Mobb Deep and contemporary emcees including two of my most recent favorites, Homeboy Sandman and Action Bronson.
Last year, while at The Roots Picnic, I had squeezed by way towards the back of a smaller stage area near the sound booth and a beer truck a Philadelphia’s Penn’s Landing to catch the Queens-based emcee Action Bronson. And what was apparent to me, and to everyone in attendance at the time, was that the guy is ridiculously talented. Much like Homeboy Sandman, Bronson employs a rhyme scheme that includes complex inner and outer rhymes with surreal imagery and perverse wit. He also showed he could rhyme over anything when his DJ started spinning 80s hits, including Phil Collins’ “Sussudio” that had me and a brother standing next to me look at each other in amazement. We then said in unison – “Phil Fucking Collins. Phil Fucking Collins!”
On his latest single, “Baby Blue,” off his latest album, Mr. Wonderful, you’ll hear him rhyme pudding and Doc Gooden, gazillions and feelings, gorgeous, horses and nauseous among other things over a looped piano and drum sample that sounds as though it could have come off Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx as it possesses the same amount of menace under the surface. The track also features incredible verse by Chance the Rapper, who wishes for all the bad and ironic things in life to happen to you and only you including hoping that the zipper in your jacket gets stuck, your headphones short out, and that your phone charger doesn’t work. Ouch!
The recently released official video is a loving and satirical homage to one of the great New York films of the 80s, Coming to America, which coincidentally is based in the Queens neighborhoods of Elmhurst and Jamaica and it features the 350+ pound emcee as a barber, a customer, an elderly man who hangs out at the barber shop, the prince who comes to Queens to find his queen and works at McDowell’s, and at one point is in a ridiculous baby blue suit, performing with his band Sexual White Chocolate. It’s fittingly hilarious and awesome in it’s tribute to the 80s and to Queens.