by James Addicott 2015 ©
I am watching a white American rapper cooking food in some of America’s gourmet restaurant kitchens. Clicking a link then leads me to watch black American rappers cooking up crack in kitchens located in some of America’s most impoverished neighbourhoods.
Action Bronson’s new LP Mr. Wonderful has been accompanied by his short video documentaries about food and cuisine on the Vice Network called Munchies: “Fuck, That’s Delicious!” It has been fascinating to watch this former chef engaging with top-end and local chefs in restaurants around the world. Compelling in the sense that although artists have over the years developed a passion for fin Champagne (e.g. Moët & Chandon), hip-hop music has traditionally had very little to do with cooking or engaging with the restaurants, especially in kitchens of the elites.
Gangster rap music, especially the sub-genre called “trap music” has also taken a turn towards the kitchen as well. However, in these kitchens the young gangster rappers in their music videos are busy stirring formulas for crack-cocaine rather than risotto.
I was personally delighted to see that Bronson had collaborated his musical career with his passion for good food. The benefits of high-end cuisine are that lots of the chefs demand that their ingredients are sourced locally or from small-scale suppliers. In a time where industrially mass-produced and globally transported food is impacting on the environment, then Bronson’s turn towards the finer things in life was excellent. Hopefully by inspiring mass audiences to watch what they eat, source good quality products; purchase fresh, locally and organically produced food, some form of wider societal change might occur. Wishful thinking maybe?
The unfortunate, cold reality about the chefs in “crack kitchens” is that they have shorter lifetime expectancies than Bronson. The food they cook – crack – does not enrich people’s lives. Rather, the product goes onto the streets and further plummets neighbourhoods into crime, debt, death, depression and circles of desperation. This is because the only way their customers can afford their product is by robbing, stealing, committing acts of burglary and theft. Much of this crime takes place at a local level since its more inconvenient, costly and risky to travel and commit crimes in wealthier and more secure neighbourhoods. The social inequalities are apparent.
If men are making a return to the kitchen, inspired by watching music videos on YouTube, then clearly Bronson’s videos are much more promising than those of chefs in the crack-kitchens.
You are what you eat; check your ingredients.