An Analysis of Action Bronson’s “Brunch”
If you’re at all familiar with independent music and hip hop, chances are you’ve been hearing a lot about Action Bronson this summer. Hailing from Flushing, Queens, the Albanian-American chef’s debut record Dr. Lecter was received with universal acclaim with its slick, sometimes self loathing, sometimes violent, other times just straight clever rhymes, not to mention his numerous comparisons to Ghostface Killah. Along with the album came a number of music videos, the most memorable of which I’ve chosen to break down with you today.
The video opens with the line “know you broke my heart [something] when you said goodbye to me” coupled with the image of fat being trimmed away from a cut of raw meat. The meat (“carne” in Spanish) represents the carnality of love. As it is trimmed away, then spiced, such is the speaker’s heart and soul cut open, salt rubbed into the wounds. Here, an unconscious woman is revealed in the foreground of Action’s cooking. The literal death of a once meaningful relationship.
Action proceeds to sharpen knives, the table littered with foodstuffs, lazily strewn about pickles and cheese, an overgrown, shabby beard—all this the product of his discontent and depression. Things turned out poorly and nobody’s perfect, so our hero has irresponsibly let himself go, eating through his problems, and taking otherwise violent measures. “Sharpen[ing his] knives” is a symbol for the damage he will continue to do to everything he loves in this world. The blood dripping slowly down his once-lover’s cheek is a representation of his loss—it is his own blood, his mistakes and pain projected onto the woman who tore him apart.
With one final kiss on the wrist, Action knows he must pick up the pieces and move forward with his life. Things are a mess and it’s his responsibility to clean things up. Carrying and securing the body with tape represents reclaiming authority over his life.
He wraps up the deceased in a carpet (a symbol for being walked all over throughout the entire course of the relationship). Now it is she who is cloaked in her misgivings. Action brings the struggle full circle; he who was walked on now lifts the carpet and his baggage (carpetbagging comes to mind, not by accident, as it is representative of the movement away from one’s past into the future of a new world, after the war, never looking back) in one fell swoop and becomes the owner of his past suffering. The hero speaks: “[His] family’s sayin’ that [he] rhyme[s] with fury, only focus on them hundred bill faces.” Everyone knows he is strong and will succeed in life, and it all begins with the confidence and wherewithal to keep pushing on.
Driving is a perfect example of personal sovereignty. It requires an earned license, a considerable amount of practice, and a great deal of awareness and focus. Action controls the car with ease as the sun shines through the trees, enforcing the effort of happiness.
However, nothing does end easily. In an interlude we find our hero at grips with his old demons. “[He] thought he took care of [his insecurities regarding the breakup with] this fucking cunt,” however, it is clear that the love is still alive, struggling to infest and destroy the new world he’s tried to build for himself. But he knows better. Action must smother these notions at all costs. He is “not gonna have this problem again.” Taking the woman’s hair, he wears it on his own head, mockingly, as a crown. She no longer has any control over him—not even those beautiful locks of love can influence the way he lives his life “from now on.”
With a look into the camera, the audience (us, our own eyes), Action enters an old, but beautiful house (his own soul). It is filled with guns, representing the power and appeal of masculinity and solitude, and a darkroom, filled with the memories and glossy perfections of false love. He battles, here, again, gently admiring a photograph, then striking it, leaving it warped and disfigured as his own emotions and perception. He turns off the light, but can’t escape the truth. His flaws, his grasp on reality and himself. He breaks into a sweat, rolls his eyes trying to catch the mirror playing a trick on him. Staring aimlessly out the window, he is caught between darkness and light, feverishly clenching a Gripmaster. This is his final test.
He takes the body out on a boat, changing clothes, glasses, working with aplomb determination. He is changed—a new man. We hear the opening line again, as Action dumps the body, along with his memories, reveries, affections, depressions, anxieties, and everything relating to the failed courtship, in the water. He drives on as the corpse sinks slowly away. We fade to black and the credits roll…
BUT, with just seconds left, we are treated to one last triumphant “Woo-ooh!” from our hero.