Action Bronson makes sure to let me know that he does not want to promote his new book, F*ck It, I’ll Start Tomorrow: A True Story. Over Zoom, he’s animated and seems relieved that the process of putting it together is finally over. It’s not that Bronson, born Ariyan Arslani, thinks the book is bad — more that working on it forced him into an uncomfortable moment of self-reflection. “I hated every second of it, but in a sense, it really did help me,” he says. “It was one of those eye-opening things for me that was like, ‘Damn, all right. What the fuck am I writing? This is fucking out of control. Get my shit together.'”
The book’s release coincides with a dramatic new look for Bronson, who is known for outlandishly clever raps as well as possessing a one-of-a-kind onscreen charm, from his VICE TV cooking series F*ck That’s Delicious to his YouTube channel. “Health is everything. Money, all this other bullshit really doesn’t mean a fucking thing if you’re not healthy,” Bronson says. “Look at fucking Patrick Swayze.” Bronson’s televised culinary adventures found him indulging in the world’s finest foods with abandon. He says that at the beginning of the process of writing the book he weighed around 400 pounds; he’s since lost more than 100 pounds.
Now, he’s regularly in the gym and has taken up body surfing as well as honing his craft as a painter. He credits an experience with boxing champ Laila Ali, the daughter of late legend Muhammad Ali, as inspiration for the latter pursuit. “She was on my show called The Untitled Show at the time, and we just fucking painted something together,” he says. “That got me hyped. I felt Muhammad’s hand was involved.”
He’s also working on new music, which he hopes to release soon. He spoke to Rolling Stone about his new book, weight loss, and his dream of hosting a Billy Blanks-style fitness show.
A big topic of conversation has been your weight-loss journey. How did you get the motivation to begin?
To me, I’ve needed this for a long time. I’ve been living hard and fast. I feel like the motivation came from having a new baby, and my wife constantly being on me, you know? There was always somebody on me, and that means that they care. There’s no doubt about that. They want me around, and I want to be around to enjoy the fruits of everything. I love life, so I wouldn’t want to leave it for no damn Entenmann’s fucking cakes and shit.
It’s interesting that this transformation really clicked for you right around the start of Covid.
Yeah. Motherfuckers were dying, bro. I’m not trying to be in that percentile that’s at risk.
Do you feel like the world being locked down gave you some space to focus on what you needed to do?
It was a blessing. I was just talking about this with my man today, that this whole slowdown was the thing that we all needed, and we didn’t even know it. It was a forced slowdown, and it allowed us to get our shit together. It made us look inside of ourselves, and be like, “Yo, we got to change and it’s time.” There’s no fucking better time than now.
Is that how the book came about? It’s being advertised as a self-help book.
Let me just say this. Let me say this about this book. This book had nothing to fucking do with anything. I hated doing this book. I didn’t want to do this book. It’s so funny. It was very tedious for me. Usually, when I do things — the two previous books I’ve done, Stoned Beyond Belief, F*ck, That’s Delicious — it was a joy. Like, please let me do that every time. But this took a lot out of me, and to be honest with you I feel like that in itself gave me a little bit of a boost, and a little kick in the ass unknowingly. I hate it, but it’s a guiding light.
What sucked about it?
When anyone reads shit about themselves it sucks. It’s trash. It’s like, “Man, I can’t even believe I wrote this. Why am I saying this? Why am I telling this? What’s the point of this?” I feel all that type of anxiety with things. Some things don’t need to be told, and you just don’t know which ones are which, but who gives a fuck? I was trying to coast through it, and joke around, but the joke ended up being on me because it made me get my shit together.
Do you feel like it made you face some things that you maybe wouldn’t have otherwise?
100 percent. Writing therapy right there. I don’t know. It needed to happen. That’s why it happened. That’s how I feel about it.
Can we get into some of the ideas in the book? It talks about food addiction, self-acceptance, and topics like that.
When you say food addiction, it sounds so fucking intense, you know? It sounds fucking intense. It’s like I’m a scumbag for liking cookies. It’s fucked up.
People say sugar is the most addictive drug.
And everyone should know that. It’s sugar, alcohol, shit like that. I’m addicted to weed because I like it. I don’t want to stop. I don’t really know where I’m going with that. That’s what weed does to you. It just makes you say crazy shit, so there’s an example of weed if you needed one.
Right. But with food, there are more physical impacts.
Yeah, for sure. I’m physically impacted for sure. I was physically impacted by food. It took a toll on me.
How did it feel to confront that?
I try to confront it all the time. That’s why it’s like, fuck it, I’ll start tomorrow. You’re always confronting it. “I’m going to start tomorrow. I’ll start tomorrow. I’ll start Monday.” It could be Wednesday, “Oh, fuck it, I’ll start Monday.” That’s four or five days away! That was always the mentality of tomorrow, Monday, the next day.
Do you feel like this book is mainly about the journey with weight loss?
It’s really not. It doesn’t have anything to do with it. It was the catalyst. This was written while I was around 400 pounds. There was no reason for me to be doing anything like this. But when you turn it around, it’s like, you know what? I hate it for a reason. Because it turned the mirror on me, on my soul, and it forced me to change. It forced me to look at the things I didn’t like right in the face. It’s heavy shit, bro. It’s heavy. And it’s no bullshit, because I swear to God I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to promote this shit, because I fucking hate it, but I feel like I need to — because it’s a message that helped me. I don’t know if it’s going to help anybody else, but this is exactly what helped me.
What can you say about where your music is at now?
I mean, I’m evolved. The evolution is like going from a … I don’t know, from pterodactyl to eagle. It’s just evolution.
How does your mind feel after losing that weight? Do you feel mentally sharper?
Of course. You know, the first fucking couple of weeks you start drinking green juice, your mind starts feeling sharper. Once you’re at this point, all the olive oil that I drink and the good fat that’s going to this brain? Poof. Next-level shit. I’m firing.
Do you think doing TV and books and everything else took time away from the music?
I mean, I roll with the vibe. And that was the vibe. I traveled the world with my friends, and we ate. We drank. We chilled. We met amazing people. We built bonds and friendships that will last forever. I did the best I could while I was chilling and having fun. I still put out a bunch of music. I have my own studio, so that never slows down. I’m always creating, I don’t have to wait on anybody. That’s the beauty of things these days, I never wait on anybody. I create it all myself. I have a bunch of very key, integral people in my life, and that’s it. We execute. I’m working on music right now. I have the artwork. I’m standing in front of the artwork for the next three albums. I’m organized. I just have to produce the artwork that needs to be wrapped. It has to be on the spot and ready to go.
Thinking about how you brought food onto TV so easily, have you thought about doing a fitness TV show?
Yeah. Do you remember this show called Body by Gilad? It was this Israeli dude and two models behind him. They would do choreography, like choreographed workouts, for a half-hour on ESPN2 back in the day, 7:30 in the morning. I kind of want to do that. Like a Jazzercise situation. Billy Blanks. I want to wear the microphone, the Bobby Brown microphone, the hands-free one. I always wanted to do something with the hands-free microphone. And I feel like this would be a perfect time, where I can incorporate a performance, fitness, talent show situations, comedy, never-seen-before type of things, different types of circus acts. As long as I have the hands-free microphone, you can just start getting crazy.
Would you consider this book a memoir?
No, this is not a fucking memoir. I’m 37 years old, for God’s sake. I’ve lived a lot, but man, there’s so much more to tell. This is bullshit. I bullshitted my way through everything, like I did in school, but somehow it’s taught me a lesson, and that’s what this is. This is a fucking lesson learned, and this was the catalyst to keeping me and getting me on track to changing my life. That’s what this is. This is straight-up what this is. I can’t lie. I cannot lie. I hated every second, like I said 45 times, but it was the catalyst because it made me look into myself, which I haven’t been doing and I needed to.