Bump J: Native Son

posted February 01, 2005 12:00:00 AM CST | 1 comments

Ellsworth Raymond Johnson was a notorious New York gangster of the 1930s. A part time burglar and pimp, Johnson regularly flaunted large rolls of cash and wore the latest in clothing designs. An unreasonable man, he was quick-tempered and extremely violent at a young age. Born in Charleston, S.C., he moved to Harlem as a small boy with his family, who nicknamed him after the knot on the back of his head.

They called him Bumpy.

Terrance Boykins was born and raised on Chicagos notorious South Side. While the 23-year-old has the looks of a pimp, he actually sold crack as a member of the 4 Corner Hustlers, a branch of the infamous Vice Lords. His story may have ended there had it not been for the murder of his brother four years ago. Born with the gift of gab, he decided to give rapping a try as a full time profession and chose a name made infamous 70 years earlier.

They call him Bump J.

In 2003, Bump was discovered by a Chicago producer, Xtreme Beats, who connected the fledgling rap artist with Kanye West's former manager, Phil Edwards, and record industry executive Free Maiden.

Under their guidance, Bump J and his crew, the Goon Squad, began building a huge following in the streets and on local radio where two of Chicagos urban stations have a Bump J Hour featuring music by the artist.

After reportedly selling more than fifty-thousand copies of his two underground mixtapes, 2003s Live From Bedrock and Welcome To Grimmeyville, the rapper was courted by several major labels before signing with Atlantic Records, who will release his as-yet-untitled debut early 2005.

I recently caught up with Bump J to discuss the history of Chicago rap music, the current king of the streets, and the future of the citys professional sports teams.

What were your plans before November 18, 2001, the day your brother was killed?
Honestly, I was on the road to destruction. I was in the streets. My brother always told me to do something with my [talent]. Rap came easily to me so I was like fuck it.

How did you hook up with Xtreme Beats?
I was doing a lot of sh*t on the underground. I was actually trying to buy some beats from him. For one reason or another we didnt hook up, so me and the Goon Squad got back [on the grind]. We was doing free shows and talent contests and he was a judge at one. After, he pulled me to side and [the relationship] went from there.

What did you learn from your mixtape experience?
Its the best promotion. I gathered so much attention selling mixtapes. We would always be doing something to help the company grow: passing out flyers, passing out turkeys on Thanksgiving. I want to always be doing something to [grow the company.]

An unsigned artist getting support from local radio is unheard of these days. What was the key to you getting Chicago stations behind you?
They dont have shit like me in Chi. It was like I was under a rock. They was like, Where did he come from? I created a whole nation in Chicago. Before, people were either fast rapping or backpackers.

So what type of style are you bringing to the table?
People say I have more of an East Coast flavor.

The tongue twist style has defined Chicago Hip-Hop for a while. Is it still a big thing in the city?
People dont really rap like that anymore. Thats mostly the old heads.

What was it like working with Kanye West on On the Run?
Hes crucial. Ten to fifteen minutes and he come up with a banger, but the [big deal] was working with Rick James.

What was that like?
Man he was acting a damn fool, Joe. He had us rolling up in the studio. He had my photographer up against the wall talking shit to her.

Why are you the king of Chicago?
The streets gave me that name. I dont call myself that. When you here me on a record, I call myself the chief. In Chicago, the head of a gang is called a chief.

Whats the first thing that comes to mind when I say the name Twista?
Dubba, dubba, dubba [mimicking Twista] Nah, hes a cool dude real humble. He tries to give me as much advice as possible. Hes finally getting his due after being jerked so long.

Common?
Smart brother.

Crucial Conflict?
They were my favorite fucking group at one point. That was my shit.

R. Kelly?
Freaky Kells! Nah, on second thought getting maced. Thats the first thing that pops up in my head, him getting maced. [Laughing]

While were on the subject of R. Kelly, why does it seem like he waited until after Twista blew up before he collaborated with him?
The funny thing is, after he got maced, he went on the radio talking about now he wants to work with niggas in Chicago. Get the fuck out of here.

Is the Chicago Hip-Hop community close knit?
Not really. Muthafuckas dont kick it. West side used to kick it. Now its not like that. People knew me [when I was coming up] and didnt care. Besides Kanye, I really dont fuck with nobody.

Which of these albums meant the most to you growing up, "Can I Borrow A Dollar? by Common Sense or Adrenaline Rush by Twista?
Adrenaline Rush. I can tell you all the words. It just stuck to me.

Do you think that album was the best representation of life in Chicago?
Actually, I think Crucial Conflict painted a better picture with their first album, "The Final Tic.

Wheres the best place to catch a rising star in Chi-town?
The streets. You wont make it if you not in the streets. You have to go to there. Muthafuckas trying to rap they self out the ghetto.

Who was the Best Artist of 2004?
Kanye West.

Why?
The messages. He dont give a fuck because nobody cared [about him] when he was trying to make it. Nobody gave a fuck about him. Thats why hes so cocky. Thats why he stick his hand in that little pocket. He dont give a fuck.

So, I would assume College Dropout is your choice for Best Album of last year?
Yeah

Last question, when will the Bears and Bulls start winning again?
[Laughing] Man I was about to ask you.

Check out more on Bump J at Atlantic Records Online

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