Bumpy Knuckles Discusses Why He Dissed The Entire Music Industry On “Industry Shakedown” (Video)
Sixteen years ago, Bumpy Knuckles (a/k/a Freddie Foxxx) released The Industry Shakedown. While the album was the Long Island, New York MC/producer’s sophomore effort, it was never intended to be so. Instead, the work produced by DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Diamond D, and The Alchemist was a monstrous attack on the music business after at least two albums worth of material where shelved since 1989’s Freddie Foxxx Is Here debut on MCA Records.
Speaking with Vlad TV, Bumpy Knuckles recalls his early 1990s exit from MCA. The artist was signed through Eric B., whose Eric B. & Rakim group was a flagship act on the label. In the mid-1990s, Foxxx would sign with Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit imprint. There, as label-mates with Apache, Zhané, Latee, and others, Foxxx would record Crazy Like A Foxxx. The album was intended for 1994 release, and produced by D.I.T.C. (Diggin’ In The Crates) producers Lord Finesse, Showbiz, and Buckwild. As Foxxx tells Vlad, Latifah disliked that version of the album, urging for more melody. As the MC who also produced retooled the album, Flavor Unit and their distributor Epic Records entered turmoil. In the end, the artist would leave very angrily, with nothing besides a promotional single to show for it. In the years that followed, Bumpy would keep his name strong through independent singles and features alongside Gang Starr, O.C., M.O.P., Naughty By Nature, and others.
In turn, 2000’s Industry Shakedown was a cannon blast at the politics, greed, and creative control that shrouded a career. “That album was a build-up of what my experiences had been, from bein’ in my mother’s living room as a young boy playing records at her house parties. [I saw] how much that music makes people move [especially] knowing that I knew what records to play,” Bumpy begins at 8:00 in the interview. “From doing that to actually seeing the MCA label spinning on the record [to eventually] getting to an office and there’s ‘MCA’ on the wall. And I’m here, and my name is on a contract with these people. [From there] to going downhill—a lot of cats will go through this now and don’t know how to handle it—as I didn’t, at one point. You move forward. But [back then] you get into these circles of record labels and so-called famous people to the point where you don’t see what’s real. It’s not real. What you see is what you see. But what’s real is different from what you see. So Industry Shakedown was, ‘You know what man? I’m gonna write an obituary for these mothafuckas real quick.’ Because the industry is so full of shit. This is the shit we waddle in. Your passion shouldn’t make you delve into a zone of danger because you feel like you might get hurt. You’re either gonna back down or you’re gonna stand up and fight.” The album, propelled by its single, would reinvent Foxxx’s career under a new alias. The LP would be considered a commercial and critical success, and a benchmark within the Underground Hip-Hop boom.
Vlad points to the Pete Rock-produced title track, which called out a number of record executives by name, as well as Rap peers, labels, and DJs. “[Kool DJ Red Alert] never wanted to play my records. And now I understand, but then I didn’t. You can’t make a DJ—of his era—[play a record]. I realize now, how [principled that generation is]. If they didn’t like it they didn’t play it. Who am I to tell Red Alert ‘Play my record; you gotta play my record’? All I can do is request it. So me saying that Red Alert ‘should renovate his crate‘ was just me saying, ‘Yo dog, put some new shit in there.’ That’s the same thing these young dudes are doin’ now with certain [DJs].” He contextualizes the late 1980s and early 1990s Big Apple Hip-Hop radio. “There’s wasn’t a lot of DJs in New York who could play your record on the radio that [the artists] had access to. So my frustration with Red was, ‘Dude, you know you see me. Every time you run up on me I’m giving you my joint; you won’t play my record.’ He finally said to me, ‘I just don’t like how you rhyme.’ And I had to respect that; I couldn’t [argue]. See, as a man, I see it. As a young MC trying to get on, I was like, ‘Fuck you, you old mothafucka!’ [Laughs] That’s how I felt. But now, as a man, I understand that. ‘Cause there’s cats who come to me, ‘Yo Bump’, man, I want to work wit’chu,’ and just to me, yo, I don’t feel you. I don’t feel what you’re doing so I can’t put no energy into that song. But on ‘The [Industry] Shakedown,’ I had to say how I felt, ’cause that’s how I felt at the time. It don’t mean I was right or wrong; it means I was honest with my feelings.”
In 2008, Bumpy would release both versions of Crazy Like A Foxxx with Fat Beats Records. He is presently working on The Industry Shakedown 2 as well as O.G.ology with Naughty By Nature’s Treach and Trick Trick.