Last week, when Action Bronson got on the phone with the former New York Yankees All-Star pitcher CC Sabathia, he had one eye on some bread in the oven. But Bronson had no plans to eat that loaf himself. It was strictly for friends and family. Not only has he sworn off carbs, but during quarantine, the famously indulgent Queens rapper has overhauled his entire lifestyle, losing over 100 pounds in the process. Now, Bronson can regularly be seen on his Instagram account laying waste to whatever gym equipment stands in his way, often alongside Sabathia, who has also reshaped his body in the last few months. But Bronson hasn’t let his commitment to health slow his creative output. On Friday, he released his sixth album, Only for Dolphins, and is planning the fifth season of his hedonistic food and travel show Fuck, That’s Delicious, which will recenter its focus to reflect Bronson’s newfound outlook of earning what you eat. As he tells Sabathia, all the motivation he needs is in front of the mirror. —BEN BARNA
CC SABATHIA: I just had a massage. What’s good?
ACTION BRONSON: I definitely need that. I went over to the Chinese lady the other day. Her name’s Linda. She ruined my back and now I’m feeling things I’ve never felt before.
SABATHIA: You’re sore?
BRONSON: It feels like some muscles popped out of where they were before. I’ve been working really hard on getting these muscles. I don’t want to ruin them.
SABATHIA: Did you run today?
BRONSON: Nah, I didn’t do nothing. I have bread in the oven.
SABATHIA: So you’re about to get a little cheat day in?
BRONSON: I’m trying not to. I’ve just been baking it and giving it away because I can’t have it in front of me.
SABATHIA: You can bring that shit to me.
BRONSON: I got you. I’m working on a new cookbook so I’m trying to experiment with all kinds of weird shit.
SABATHIA: The healthy route, I like that. How do you feel with the album coming out? Usually you’d be on the road right now doing all kinds of crazy shit.
BRONSON: It’s been weird, but I can only do what I can do. I feel good. You’re part of the catalyst to this transformation. If we didn’t have that conversation, I probably wouldn’t have ever come to the gym.
SABATHIA: I told you, “Whenever you’re ready, I’ve got the gym for you. I’ve got the trainer for you. This shit will change your life.”
BRONSON: And you were absolutely right. It’s hard to take that first step. When I finally did, it was on. I haven’t looked back since. So, to be honest with you, I’m happy with everything. The way the world is working right now, my record is the last thing I’m worried about. But listen, the record is fire. It’s going to speak for itself.
SABATHIA: We can’t really complain about nothing. Your family’s good, my family’s been good through all this. We’ve been able to work out, transform our bodies. A year ago, you and I would have probably caught this virus and struggled.
BRONSON: I probably would have gone bye-bye. I know a bunch of people who were in shape who caught it, and they had some struggles. So I couldn’t even imagine, man. I don’t like getting sick, so I’m going to continue everything I possibly can to stay right. I’m looking at my reflection right now in the window, and I’ve got some cuts coming. I don’t want to ruin that.
SABATHIA: [Laughs] And you’ve got a 10-month-old baby. You’ve got to run around with him.
BRONSON: Oh yeah. I’ve got a baby, too. But man, cuts are motivating. When you walk by that reflection in the window and you just catch that tricep? Woo!
SABATHIA: You know what’s crazy, though? I don’t see it in myself. I still feel like I’m walking around at 330 pounds, cuz. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I really don’t see it. I feel like you’re the same way, because you’ll come to the gym and be like, “Yo, I’m plateauing.” I’m like, “Dog, you the best I’ve ever seen you look.”
BRONSON: It’s mental. It’s that sports psychology. We’re never satisfied. We’re always going to want more. But I know that we’re looking much better now. Everyone tells us. It’s just harder for us to realize it, but once we do, we’ll be unstoppable. We’re going to love ourselves again.
SABATHIA: For sure. Did you work on an album throughout quarantine?
BRONSON: I was doing the album a lot earlier on in the year. I had everything ready to go. Then March hit, and everything slowed down.
BRONSON: They were telling me, “Slow down. Chill out. Why don’t you get a little deal for it?” So I got a little money for it. It’s just fucking annoying. You always got to do things on your own. I’m sick of dealing with companies. I move at a pace that they don’t understand and they can’t handle. But they’ve got the pocketbook.
SABATHIA: You’ve got so much going on, though, whether it’s Fuck, That’s Delicious or your music. Now you’ve got this fitness shit going on. You just stay moving.
BRONSON: It’s wild. It’s like all my interests in life just come back around into creating some sort of career path. It’s not even about the money.
SABATHIA: It’s just shit you like to do.
SABATHIA: People love to watch you do shit that you like to do, which is a blessing. Being an athlete for 20 years, it was the same for me.
BRONSON: Man, that’s what I’m saying. I’m literally living the athlete’s life without playing sports. I had this vision of always wanting to just hang out for the rest of my life. I couldn’t imagine working hard, but this still is hard work. It just looks easy because we’re so good at chilling. That’s why it looks so fun, because we’re just ill at hanging out.
SABATHIA: Are you shooting another season of Fuck, That’s Delicious?
BRONSON: Yeah, man. I’m funding that shit myself. We’re going to integrate fitness, eating healthy, and earning your food. I like to get high as a motherfucker before I go to the gym, and that’s just on gang. That’s just how I do.
SABATHIA: I don’t know how you do that shit, bro.
BRONSON: It’s just in my blood. I can’t live without it. I wake up, and I put myself back to sleep. My tolerance and the way that my body functions, I can’t explain it. It’s a superpower. My mother put me on to that. She used to always smoke a joint before she went walking. She’d be listening to her salsa music, smoking a joint, and walking around Flushing Meadows Park. Like mother, like son. Damn, I wish you could see the bread that just came out the oven.
SABATHIA: You just be teasing yourself with that shit.
BRONSON: I need to do these things. I need to be running with the fucking thing on my head that’s holding a steak in front of me, and I’m never going to catch it. I need something dangling in front of me, for real.
SABATHIA: [Laughs] Have any other rappers hit you up? Who’s been helping you stay motivated?
BRONSON: Actually, Schoolboy [Q] sent me a beautiful message recently, just telling me how proud of me he is. In general, everyone is flooding the comments with things like, “Thank you. I needed this inspiration. You’re getting me through a lot of shit.” I’d been reckless in what I was promoting. I always promoted getting high, chilling, eating, doing what you want. But that’s not right. You can have that frame of mind, but you still have to make sure that you take care of that body. The body is your temple. We can have all the cars in the world, but they ain’t a fucking body. There’s nothing like the human body, as far as I know.
SABATHIA: For sure.
BRONSON: Maybe an alligator body. I fuck with alligators, heavy.
SABATHIA: Heavier than dolphins?
BRONSON: Dolphins are pretty next-level.
SABATHIA: What was the inspiration for making the dolphin the mascot of the album?
BRONSON: I’m just so sick of people. I wanted to make something for someone who understands me. I feel like those dolphins are the only ones that understand me. From the depths of the ocean. They can hear my tears. They can hear my soul cry. They were able to bring me out of this inferno that I was in, so I decided I was going to make something just for them, because humans don’t deserve me.
SABATHIA: I love it. And you know me. I’m sick of people every fucking day.
BRONSON: It’s just a fact. People suck sometimes, man. It’s enough already. We’ve seen enough people. Let me see some dolphins.
SABATHIA: Have you been to any of your favorite restaurants since outdoor dining in New York started?
BRONSON: I’ve been going to a couple of places that have been opening here and there, but I’ve mostly been cooking every single meal. That was a big thing that helped me lose weight, controlling the food that was going into my body, because I’m a fucking orderer. I like having a lot of different things around at one time so I don’t have to choose just one thing. But I can’t do that to myself. I was compounding fucking cakes and cookies and shit like that. So I try to go out to places that are semi-healthy. Now, I’ll order specifics: “Let me get the pasta, but no pasta. Just chicken.” It’s fucking annoying.
SABATHIA: For me, I would always be like, “Fuck, I’ve got to go out to eat. I’m about to ruin my diet,” instead of just being like, “I could order steak, mushrooms, and some fucking broccoli.”
BRONSON: Exactly. That was very new to me.
SABATHIA: I was never educated on that type of shit.
BRONSON: Of course. Nutrition is the biggest part. Based on what we grew up on, it’s very hard to figure out the combinations of food we actually need. You always had meat. You always had a starch. There were always potatoes. There was always rice. But you can’t do that, man.
SABATHIA: Yeah, the one thing that Dave told me that he shouldn’t have told me is that the one thing that you could probably cheat with that’s not horrible for you is pizza.
BRONSON: It’s not terrible, but at the end of the day, you can’t have it so much. And I want it every day.
SABATHIA: What’s the best pizza place in the city?
BRONSON: There’s a place in Howard Beach called New Park Pizza. It’s something else, real old school. Lucali’s in Brooklyn is tremendous. That’s Jay-[Z]’s favorite spot. The chef there, Mark [Lucali], is just an amazing dude. Old-school Italian kid from the neighborhood. He gets it. Pizza’s fire. We should do a pizza tour.
BRONSON: We should workout and then eat pizza all day long so we won’t gain any weight.
SABATHIA: The name of the show should be Cheat Day.
BRONSON: From your lips to god’s ears.
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