When it comes to rappers and sports references, there is Action Bronson and there is everyone else.
The New York-born lyricist who grew up in Flushing, Queens, has long been known for his unparalleled lines about sports — whether it be New York City athletes, obscure baseball players or even his claims of fixing games.
He might also have the best soccer knowledge of any rapper this side of the Atlantic. The furthest footballing advance for most rap artists is usually a basic reference to Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi (maybe Neymar or Kylian Mbappé if they want to sound cultured).
Action Bronson is a true man of culture though. He is of Albanian descent, and in his songs he has name-dropped Ruud van Nistelrooy and talked about watching Euro 2016. These are all his soccer-inspired bars:
Action Bronson's Soccer-Inspired Lyrics
Motherfucking World Cup starts today / You better be watching that shit in Spanish — from "Telemundo" (2018)
In a 2018 interview with Hot 97, Bronson is watching a live stream of the Mexico-Sweden World Cup match, with the commentary in Spanish, of course.
When asked if would cover the World Cup every four years, the rapper responded: "I do the Euro Cup also. I come in every two, I do the Copa de Oro also. There's so many cups, I do whatever, Champions League."
IF YOU DON’T WATCH THE WORLD CUP ON TELEMUNDO I CAN’T FUX WIT YA.— *EL COCODRILLO TURBO* (@ActionBronson) June 14, 2018
If you need me, I'm at the bottom of Lake Titicaca / Watching Euro Cup soccer, Portugal won, it was a shocker — from "Ring Ring" (2018)
Two songs after "Telemundo" on his 2018 album "White Bronco," Bronson drops another soccer reference — this time referring to the European Championships from two years before when Portugal took home its first Euro crown. Rhyming Titicaca with shocker (in an NYC accent, of course) is the cherry on top.
From here to Portugal, kick it like Ronaldo / Mustache like Geraldo
94, copping soccer cleats out of Herman's — from "Savage from Sarasota" (2015)
"Savage from Sarasota" is Action Bronson's tribute to former wrestler "Macho Man" Randy Savage, who died in 2011. Amid samples of Macho Man and odes to former Yankees players Jason Giambi and Don Mattingly, Bronson slips in references to Cristiano Ronaldo and the now-defunct sporting goods store where he bought soccer cleats back in 1994 (likely a pair of Adidas Copas as he mentions a German car in the previous line).
They taking pictures from the van outside the carnival / See me doing business with the manager of Arsenal / The goalie’s fingers in the box with the cannolis — from "Godfather IV" by Curren$y (2014)
Bronson is known for his lyrical implications with fixing games, namely college basketball and football, but in 2014 he took his influence stretched across the Atlantic Ocean when he insinuated some shady dealings with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
The three lines here are filled with veiled references and double entendres, as, throughout his whole verse, Bronson compares himself to a mob boss.
Like a soccer player call me by my last name / A young Zinedine Zidane / In Flushing Meadow Park drinking Hennessy with mom — From "It's Me" (2013)
Normally the practice of going by a single name is usually reserved for Brazilian footballers, but Zidane reached the rare echelon of European soccer players who are referred to almost exclusively by their last name.
Bronson capitalized on the enigma that is Zidane in his 2013 song "It's Me," juxtaposing the Frenchman's fame with Bronson's willingness to drink in the park with his mom. Hennessy — a classy French cognac — provides the bridge between these two self-assured figures.
Pistol noise, shiftin' in a Hitler toy / kick shit, young Ruud von Nistelrooy — from "5 Minute Beats 1 Take Raps" (2012)
"Ruud van Nistelrooy. I love soccer," Bronson said in a 2013 interview with Sports Illustrated. "I watch all the World Cups. My passion is watching the world play."
Kick shit Miroslav Klose I drink piss of the purified cobra — From "1000 Pounds" by Labba (2012)
Action Bronson's Ruud van Nistelrooy line was not the first time he incorporated the phrase "kick shit," nor was it his first reference to a prolific European striker from the 2000s. His 2012 feature for Brooklyn rapper Labba featured a reference to German great and all-time leading men's World Cup scorer Miroslav Klose.
I'm known to kick it like I'm Ronaldinho / My rhymes are spicy as a jalapeño
A Dutch master like Robben and Sneijder, strike like a viper — From "Back 2 The Future" (2011)
In one of his few songs with two soccer references, Bronson mentions a trio of the biggest names of the era. Rhyming Ronaldinho with jalapeño is a solid start, but the real gem here is the Dutch tandem of Robben and Sneijder. His use of the word "strike" also applies to both the cobra and the finishing abilities of the aforementioned world-class attackers.
Scorin' like I'm Messi but this game is far from soccer — From "Muslim Wedding" (2011)
Not his most unique soccer reference, but hey, you have to start somewhere.