Hip-hop’s most enthusiastic gourmands will have you believe that the rap lifestyle is fueled by a smorgasbord of fancy foodstuffs. If 2 Chainz isn’t Instagramming about his Chilean sea-bass served on a Versace plate, there’s Action Bronson running through tasting menus at Noma in Copenhagen, or Juicy J bragging about consuming the entire contents of the ocean.
That’s cool, but if we’ve learned anything, it’s that rappers take equal pride in name-checking hot dogs, Benihana, or even their local Waffle House. To add to that list of under-appreciated hip hop edibles, let us consider the humble sandwich.
Throughout the years, hip-hop’s most notable names have embraced the sandwich as their go-to snack, from old-schoolers and boldface superstars alike. With nods to Jay-Z’s chicken parm game, MF Doom’s grilled cheese advice, and the tender story of Drake’s missing tuna salad, here’s a salute to the sacred relationship between rappers and their favorite sandwiches.
Funkmaster Wizard Wiz and the 5-Second Rule
While old-school pioneers the Sugarhill Gang were grumbling about a spread of limp macaroni, overcooked peas, and chicken that “tastes like wood” on hip-hop’s seminal “Rapper’s Delight,” Funkmaster Wizard Wiz was marching around the Bronx on a sandwich mission. Rapping on the track “Bellevue Patient,” the oddball Wiz reveals the depth of his dedication to the cause: “I dropped my steak sandwich in some cement / I didn’t get upset, or disappointed / I just picked it up, then I licked my lips / Then I opened my mouth and I ate it.” Consider them words to live by.
The Beatnuts on Post-Sex Sandwiches
Showing a sex-and-sandwich synergy that pre-dates George Costanza’s classic pastrami play, mid-’90s mainstays The Beatnuts outlined a post-coital routine that includes the charming demand, “I make bitches make me sandwiches.” It’s a concept Big Sean later ran with on “Switch Up.” After getting intimate to the sounds of R. Kelly, the GOOD Music man successfully requests a ‘wich—strictly with “no PB and jelly”—despite his lady protesting, “God damn, what you think this, a deli?”
Count Bass D, the Equal Opportunity Sandwich Lover
Digging deep into the sandwich psyche, Count Bass D took time out from writing raps about his obsession with T-Boz to drop an ode to the female form by way of his favorite fare. “She can be white or wheat or even pumpernickel,” spits the Count, proving that true sandwicharians don’t discriminate.
Goodie Mob and the Soul-Food Sandwich
Food and politics intermingle throughout Goodie Mob’s “Soul Food,” but reading between the lines of Khujo’s lyrics, you can guess that he spends his Sunday mornings chomping down on a fried-chicken sandwich—cooked in “yesterday’s grease” for extra tang.
Kool Keith’s Sandwich Defilement
Rap’s freakiest eater is something of a closet conservative when it comes to bread-based snacking. He’s lauded the virtues of a simple turkey sandwich in rhyme (“Maxin’ in the Shade”) and professed a preference for “government cheese” under his Dr. Dooom persona (“Live”). It’s a combination the Spankmaster has been spotted devouring in person at a midtown Manhattan diner (apparently the key to sandwich perfection is to use “the softest bread you have”). But since Keith has also warned in rhyme that he’ll “touch your sandwich after I play with my penis,” smart chowhounds will want to sit at a separate table.
MF Doom, Hip-Hop’s Sandwich King
The masked supervillain is a serial sandwich rhymer. Co-starring on Vast Aire’s “Da Supafriendz,” he can be found extolling the importance of smearing a grilled cheese in butter, or else “the bread’ll get damaged.” Elsewhere he’s explored off-kilter creations like a “soup sandwich” under his Viktor Vaughn persona, and teased a molecular gastronomy-inspired “sand sandwich salad” on his MM.. Food album. Asked about more edible creations, DOOM once revealed, “The Villain’s a big fish fan so I’d say he’d choose a tuna salad sandwich. That’s classic. Get some tuna straight from the can, mix in some mayo and some chopped celery, then spread it on some rye bread. If you want to be more flamboyant you can put some hot sauce in there, but the Villain doesn’t mess with melted cheese.”
Cam’ron and the Survivalist Sandwich
Reflecting on tough times with his man Juelz Santana, Cam’ron’s soulful Purple Haze-era track “Get Down” includes a nod to days spent splitting $1.50 chicken sandwiches. “I hope the chicken sandwich last us through the night child,” wishes Cam, somewhat optimistically.
Drake’s Sandwich Sadness
Drake is misunderstood. Despite the trappings of success, there’s a moody undertone to everything he does. Could the cause be sandwich-related? In this pre-fame video clip, a softly-spoken Drizzy is dismayed to find that his mom has returned home from a shopping spree without his beloved tuna sandwich. She explains that she bought chicken salad instead and will happily make him a sandwich at home, but the damage has already been done. Drake forlornly keeps looking through the shopping bags, but no sandwich emerges. “I’d definitely pull a joke, joking about a tuna sandwich that I wanted,” he opines sarcastically. Damn, that’s some real sandwich heartbreak.
Das Racist—When Is the Sandwich Shop Coming?
Das Racist became the poster boys for Internet rappers when “Combination Pizza Hut Taco Bell” went viral. On 2011’s “Rainbow In The Dark” though, Kool A.D. can be found lamenting about the “tiny ass chicken sandwiches” at White Castle—although he side-steps the wider philosophical debate about when a sandwich becomes a burger. His rhyme partner Heems would also later tweet about plans to open a sandwich spot soundtracked by Kool G Rap, Ghostface, and KMD.
Mac Miller, Steel City Sandwich Ambassador
Mac Miller is a hometown sandwich ambassador. His break-through debut album, Blue Slide Park, included an ode to scarfing down a turkey, lettuce, and tomato ‘wich at Pittsburgh’s Frick Park Market emporium, and he’s also nodded to the Steel City classic Primanti Bros. on “Aliens Fighting Robots.” Larry Fisherman’s order of choice? The Capicola, which pairs a dry-cured Italian pork cold cuts with cheese.
Jay Z and the Fish Sandwich Chess Move
While dining with author Zadie Smith at a “homey Italian restaurant on Mulberry Street” in Manhattan for a New York Times story, rap restaurateur Jay-Z indulged in his hankering for a chicken parm sandwich. Then, in a move possibly inspired by Kanye’s famous Watch the Throne lyric (“What she order? Fish Filet”), he took the liberty of ordering Smith a fish sandwich.
Tyler, the Creator and the Hip-Hop Hoagie
Prepared during a freestyle soiree on Hot 97 that’s since become known as “H.A.M. Sandwich,” Tyler and cohorts Earl Sweatshirt and Domo Genesis detail the ultimate hip-hop hoagie. It’s a staunchly blue-collar concoction, with a base of bologna and cheese paired with lettuce, tomato, ketchup, and Dijon. According to Tyler’s tirade, it’s best paired with Fuji brand water.
Action Bronson’s Sandwich Evolution
Hip-hop’s most beloved gourmand rules the roost when it comes to food references, but he’s kept his lyrical sandwich game relatively low-key by pairing a couple of humble chicken sarnies with a can of Canada Dry (with lime) on 2012’s “Steve Wynn.” Over on Bronsolini’s Instagram feed though, he was more recently moved to salivate over a fried salami, mustard, and onion roll creation that he devoured at Brooklyn’s Mile End Deli outpost, as well as an artery-clogging concoction over at Rico Chimi in East New York.
A$AP Ferg Is a Grilled-Cheese Man
The A$AP Mob announced themselves to the world through a cloud of weed smoke and purple dank, but the crew’s second-in-command is a confirmed grilled cheese fanatic. This dairy-obsessed rapper will happily mix up cheddar, Muenster, provolone, Swiss and mozzarella for his base filling; he also recommends topping your grilled cheese with a fried egg.
Eminem Puts Anything Between Two Slices of Bread
There’s a spirited sandwich presence in Em’s trailer trash roots. He might cop to using spray butter on “So Far,” but he still manages to shoehorn melted mozzarella and spaghetti into bread for a hearty snack. Then, on “Rain Man,” Slim Shady gets experimental by fusing peanut butter, jelly, chicken, and tuna together. Taste test at your own risk.
Riff Raff Likes Tartar
Nestled among the nonsense that makes up the average Riff Raff rap, “Lava Glaciers” contains a reference to chowing down on a pork-chop sandwich lavished with tartar sauce. (The sauce should always come from a packet, if you were wondering.)
Bushwick Bill and the Game-Changing Tuna Sandwich
Best known as the pint-sized Geto Boys rapper who shot himself in the eye and then appeared on an album cover being wheeled into a hospital ward, Bushwick Bill recently opened up to Spurs’ forward Matt Bonner about his sensitive sandwich side. Showing a willingness to stretch the boundaries of sandwich composition, he plumps for tuna and avocado on an audacious slice of garlic bread. By way of explanation he adds, “Chicken of the Sea is my favorite tuna because when I came to the South, I realized that a chicken was a barnyard pimp.”
Jeezy Takes a Metaphor Too Far
Sometimes the crack game reminds Young Jeezy of the sandwich game. It’s a concept he ran with on “Beez Like,” as he details the ingredients of a “yayo sandwich.” The importance of lettuce is pushed home, but the greater lesson here is that even trap stars have to snack.
Ghosftace Killah’s Sandwich-Shop Show
After becoming tickled by the name of Australian sandwich shop Toastface Grillah, Ghost Deini himself decided to stop by and run through an impromptu live set just before last Christmas. It’s unclear whether the Wu-Tang man also indulged in the spot’s blue cheese, pear, and lime chutney special. (Photo: Newslocker)
Brancaccio’s Food Shop, Rap’s Favorite New Sandwich Spot
Situated down in Windsor Terrace in Brooklyn, this diminutive gourmet food spot has quickly become a go-to outlet for rappers dealing with a sandwich craving. Special Ed, Tone Tank, Edan, Mr. Kaves, and the mighty M.O.P. have all indulged in creative bites like the pot roast with balsamic vidalia onions and fontina cheese, or the pine-nut and raisin-spiked meatball sandwich doused in fennel sauce. (Photo: Liz Barclay)
Junk Science’s Sandwich Album
Brooklyn-based Junk Science can claim the only rap album to come packaged as a sandwich. Dropping deep edible science, the project titled And The Hundred Dollar Sandwich consists of two old-fashioned compact discs making up the classic white bread, while ten die-cut lyric sheets represent staple fillings like red onion, bacon, avocado, cold cuts and lettuce. Designed by Cool Calm Pete, the whole shebang naturally comes inside in a freezer-safe sandwich bag.