8 July, 2011@12:00 pm
Freddie Foxxx aka Bumpy Knuckles doesn’t release albums very often, but when he does, he picks up the mic like he never left. And chances are, he never did leave, as “rhyming is a part of [his] life”, as he let us know on 2000′s seminal Industry Shakedown. Easily one of the best indie albums that year, and of the entire independent hip-hop movement as a whole, it took no prisoners and got people to listen and respect the then already seasoned emcee. After quite a long dry spell, Bumpy recently teamed with KRS-One for the Royalty Check release, and now joins up with soon-to-be-super producer Statik Selektah for Lyrical Workout.
In a word, Statik has mastered the classic hip-hop production style, evoking feelings of the 90′s, and more specifically the Gang Starr Foundation itself, with Lyrical Workout. Combining that with a seasoned emcee that knows exactly what to do with these beats, we get one of the strongest album releases of the year. Taking it back to jazz loops (!), songs like the opener, “Still Got It” (featuring a well-timed Dr. Dre sample) beg the question why rappers abandoned this style so many years ago. The same can be said for songs like the scratch-driven “Animalistic”, or the cinematic soul of tracks like “Beats On ‘Em” or “Pen Game”. The entire album magically transports longtime listeners back to a better time, without sounding dated.
It goes without saying that Bumpy’s lyrical contributions certainly match Statik’s production, as there really isn’t a show-stealer on this collaboration. Bumpy’s a rare breed in today’s age of pandering to the mainstream, a brutally honest emcee that has extra large fists to back up his boasts. We even get a bit of vulnerability this time around, as on “Don’t Do Fake”, Bumpy laments “I can’t remember all my rhymes sometimes / I guess I’m getting old, I do forget / plus I wrote a whole bunch of shit”. It’s this type of honesty in an industry that is built off of manufactured celebrities that makes Bump’s words all the more sincere; and Statik’s buttery beat doesn’t hurt either.
There’s no deeper meaning, no concept, no hit single (or failed attempt), Lyrical Workout is just simply a “real” album, for lack of a better term. Bumpy Knuckles and Statik Selektah have created something exceptional here, that definitely should not be missed.
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