Freddie Foxxx is the epitome of the streets. He lives, breathes and represents everything about the streets, while the rest of the industry just wishes they could follow in his footsteps. Bumpy Knuckles is indeed one of the most overlooked figures in the culture of Hip-Hop. He has been rocking mic's for over a decade while still remaining true to the culture, and more importantly himself. However, it wasn’t until Bumpy spit his classic verse on Gangstarr’s illustrious “The Militia” that the mainstream public started to take notice. Then in 2000, Bumpy released one of the underground’s finest albums, “Industry Shakedown”, which etched Bumpy’s name in stone as one of the industry’s rawest rappers alive. It was this fiery persona and take no bullshit attitude that attracted everyone to Bumpy. In a time when fake emcees were coming out of the woodworks, Bumpy brought it back to the raw essence of Hip-Hop, the streets. However, the attraction on “Industry Shakedown” was the amazing production lineup Bumpy gathered for the album, which included legends such as Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Diamond D and newfound attractions such as Alchemist.
Since then Bumpy has laid low, while fans have eagerly awaited some new material. Now three years after his last LP, Freddie Foxxx is back with the “Konexion”. However, this time around the scenery isn’t quite the same, as a new and less effective lineup of producers has been gathered by Bumpy, which unfortunately makes the “Konexion” a solid but disappointing release.
While the “Konexion” album was supposed to be a collaboration with the chocolate boy wonder Pete Rock, due to both of their hectic schedules, the album never came to fruition. Instead we get an offering not filled with Hip-Hop legends or industry greats, but an album filled with relative unknowns. Producers such as Knockout, Beat Banga, Ear Candi, Big Bruh, Dem Dudes, Rich 5 & Lil Big Lil Fella unfortunately lace the album with their inconsistent and mediocre production. The Knockout produced “Swazzee” and the Dem Dudes produced “No I Ain’t Wit It” are both uncharacteristic rock influenced records that do not fit the Bumpy Knucks mold. “Step Up” is another dire effort behind the boards, as the track's hook as been done before and much better at that. “Gangsta’s Again” suffers from the wack hook disease as well as awful production from Rich 5. “Me!”, “Stick’Em Up”, “Poetry” & “Aim Cock Spit” all feature your usual bragging rights from Bumpy behind the mic, but all also feature lackluster and boring production. It’s quite baffling how Bumpy’s last effort, “Industry Shakedown” could feature such classic production, and now on “Konexion” we get the complete opposite.
However, the “Konexion” is not a complete wash, as the other half of the album ends up being the one we thought we would get from start to finish. These standout attempts only come when the production aspect finally meets up with Bumpy’s style. DJ Premier once again laces Bumpy with nothing but gold, as “Paine” & “Lazy!!!” are both vintage Primo & Bumpy efforts. “Paine” is your typical hard-core effort from the two, where Bumpy does his usual antics on the mic. You can sense the intensity from Bumpy on every Primo track, making the two a perfect match for each other every time. “Lazy” personifies the tracks feel, as Bumpy rides the slowed down Primo track perfectly. On “Lazy” Bumpy lets every rapper out there know, not many can spit on a Primo track like he can. “I noticed a lot of rappers right, you give em some real awkward shit like this, and what do they do? They come back crying like, I can’t feel it, I can’t feel it! What it is though they’re (lazy). See, you make em lazy Prime! This hot shit right here, this make a motherfucker lazy”.
The only other producer that contributes some positive production on the album is Hidden Agenda, as he laces the other amount of good tracks on the album. “Drop A Jewel” features a slowed down flow from Bumpy, who plays hit or miss with his lyricism. The two most insightful tracks on “Konexion” are “When The Angels Sing” & “New Millennium”, both of which are influenced by the tragic events of September 11th. “When The Angels Sing” is a moving song that preaches for change and positive upliftment within the world we are living in today. “Real G’s revolt against the systematic, the 45 is colt and fully automatic. Cause whites hate niggas, and niggas hate niggas…I pray that I can make crip killers, crip lovers. Rule one black army, unit my brothers. Intelligent gang thug’s holla at a gangsta, let us be one love like we all proclaim to. To my comrades of the white complexion, glad to have you down for the Bumpy Knucks Konexion. Even though we look different in the mirrors reflection, together we can take this in a strong direction”.
“New Millennium” is dedicated towards the chaotic world and times we are living in. Bumpy offers his own unique thoughts on a variety of social and culture problems plaguing the world. “What people wanna kill us, how came they say they hate us? How can wanna do it, knowing that god made us? How can the city manage, we lost a lot of cops? Or will that make it better, lets ask Dialos pops? How can we fight for freedom, when we ain't even free?” Other standout tracks include the ruff rugged and raw sounds of “Mega Bomb Dropper”, produced by DJ Rukas, and the self-titled “Konexion”, both of which personify that distinct Bumpy sound to a tee.
While Freddie Foxxx can still spit with the best of them, the production aspect needs to return to the days of ‘Industry Shakedown” in order for Bumpy to truly produce an outstanding album. Tracks such as “The Real Emcee”(produced by Alchemist) and “S.W.A.M.” (produced by Hidden Agenda) should have definitely been included on the albums final cut, as they would have both been great additions to the album.
In the end the “Konexion” might be a big disappointment compared to the “Industry Shakedown”, but that shouldn’t defer listeners from picking up the album, as about half of the album will do more than satisfy your needs. It’s the other half that needed work, and unfortunately this large group of songs brings down the final product greatly. Nevertheless, Freddie Foxxx is an emcee that has and always will represent true Hip-Hop. And even though the “Konexion” might be disappointing, I think we can all assume Bumpy will come back with a vengeance for his next effort.