As you know, the Bronx is becoming the bomb. There’s the current “Bronx Calling” exhibit of local art. There’s a planned overhaul of the waterfront. There are a dozen buildings currently getting thousands of new apartments added. But the borough’s been beloved by locals for years, and to find its hidden gems, we had loyal natives Desus and Mero give us their insider opinions. Though Desus Nice, a.k.a. Daniel Baker, 32, and the Kid Mero, a.k.a. Joel Martinez, also 32, love the Bronx with a toughness, there’s real reverence for their hometown hood behind every punch they throw.
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You both grew up here. Are you in the Bronx to stay?
Desus: “Hell, no, soon as I get a nice check, I’m out of this bitch…I’m kidding. Come on, I’ve got a tattoo!”
What keeps you so dedicated to the borough?
Desus: “You can get it all on one block in the Bronx. An oil change, a beer and the botanica, in case you want to put a hex on your ex.”
What’s the best new development in the Bronx?
Mero: “The High Bridge, the newly reopened pedestrian walkway connecting Washington Heights to the Bronx’s Highbridge neighborhood. There's a Howard Johnson's just on the other side that Yelp probably tells you is close to the stadium or the zoo—a terrible idea, unless you’re trying to get with your mistress or cop heroin before you see some pandas.”
What’s the first place you stop for lunch?
Mero: “Chimi Truck, a Dominican spot that’s right down the street from where I used to work. There’s no restaurant-inspection grade here. You can walk up to the window and ask, ‘What’s your rating?’ and she’ll tell you: ‘Excellent.’”
Where do you shop for streetwear and sneakers?
Desus: “On Fordham Road, which is like the Fifth Avenue of the Bronx.”
Mero: “Sammy’s Fashion & Co, in particular. Can’t say this inside, but I used to steal shit from here when I was a kid.”
Desus: “You can slip up and make a mistake elsewhere, but there’s no bootleg shit here. A real rapper would probably send an assistant to pick something up. A Bronx rapper would come in with a shoebox full of bloody one-dollar bills.”
Other than rappers, who are the other Bronx-born celebrities that people in the borough look up to?
Desus: “Few people represent the Bronx after they get a little money. For some people, it’s just us and J. Lo.”
Desus, you showed Anthony Bourdain around for his Bronx edition of Parts Unknown. What other artists would you like to give the grand tour to?
Desus: “First Taylor Swift bullies Apple and then spends the day in the Bronx with us. Imagine what happens to her street cred.”
Mero: “If Taylor Swift comes out with a bachata album, you know what happened.”
Your final spot is Key Club Cabaret, a strip club. What do you like about it?
Mero: “In the Bronx, this is lit!”
Desus: “I used to run a strip club here, Scores East. Everyone acts shady because they’re afraid people are looking at them. No one is looking at you! They’re busy looking at other things!”
Desus and Mero currently appear on comedy talk show Uncommon Sense with Charlamagne Fridays at 11pm on MTV2.