Bumpy Knuckles aka Freddie Foxxx is an artist from the United States of America who lives to express himself, be it via music, on the wide screen or through painting or writing. Bumpy Knuckles is a very interesting character rubbing shoulders with names such as DJ Premier, D.I.T.C, Lord Finesse and even Biggie and Tupac over the years. He is also a man who appreciates the beard, having worked a few styles over the years.
We sat down in our second edition of Ask the Bearded Guy to find out a bit about Bumpy’s music career in rap and hip hop as well as talking to him a little about his grooming routine and what he uses to keep looking sharp and fresh:
Tell us a little about your musical idols and inspiration as you were growing up…
“My early music idols were all the greats, James Brown, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, real black soul music. My mother would have these house parties and I would sit at the record player and play the records for them. It was just a single track record player but I loved sitting there changing the side for them. I would create a playlist on the 45 record drop, always picking the right tracks. I grew up on this music but it wasn’t until I heard Fat Back Band and King Tim the Third, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, it was some sort of new music or new way of singing and I really liked it.
When and how did you first get into music Bumpy?
“It was 1978, I was in 6th grade and I had just moved to a new town and school. I made some new friends and we started to rap together, soon we were outside practicing everyday as a crew. This is when my appreciation for music and in particular rap and hip hop was born. I wasn’t even considering making a living out of it at this stage, I just knew I really liked it and wanted to do it all the time. My first MC name was MC Black”
How did you meet DJ Premier? The Key is a dope song…
“It’s a bit crazy really, I was just walking down the street in the city coming out of a meeting and I bumped into him as he was coming out his own meeting. I remember just looking at him and being like Gang Starr and him being like Freddie Foxxx, I didn’t know it at the time but we were both fans of each others music. So there and then we exchanged numbers and I got a call to go down a see them and produce some records. Since then I haven’t really looked back, Premier is a great guy and a brother to me”
Is there anyone in particular you really want to collaborate with in the future?
“My only stipulation is that you are talented. I want to create dope music with people who are talented and that’s it. It doesn’t matter what your name is, I don’t go chasing names. I would prefer to work with some up and coming raw talent and help them blow up – as I did with Sy Ari Da Kid. Before I knew him he wasn’t a named artist – he’s doing really well now and deserves it”
Tell us about some of the hip hop heads you know such as Lord Finesse and DITC…
“I know Lord Finesse and Diamond D back from the Power Play Studio days. These guys taught me how to sell my records independently. I went directly into the majors from high school. I made my first record in 1986 and I graduated in ’85! It was crazy, I got a deal on NIA Records and started to meet loads of new guys, as part of that I met Finesse and Digging in the Crates (DITC). They produced my album Crazy Like A Foxxx and they are the epitome of doing it yourself. DITC was the original hard hip hop crew. Everyone thinks Wu Tang was the first original hard hip hop crew but the truth is that they were just a second DITC!”
How about Biggie and Tupac, did you know them?
“I knew both of them back in the day, I was friends with Tupac and I met Biggie when I was working with Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit. Tupac would have been a big movie star for sure if he was still around today, he was a great artist. Biggie I met in the lobby when I was working on Crazy Like A Foxxx, he was a really cool guy and a nice guy too. For me he was one of the sharpest MC’s I have ever met and I have no doubt if he had lived he would be even bigger than someone like Jay Z today”
What are your thoughts on the ‘New School’ style of Hip Hop?
“For me it is another branch on the tree of Hip Hop. Never make the branches more important than the trunk. I don’t have the right to do that, nobody does, the tree belongs to everybody. These kids are designing their own branch on this tree, we had our own opportunity to do that and they should have theirs”
Tell us a bit about what you are working on right now…
“There is always a lot going on! Right now I’m working on the Pop Duke Vol 2 for next year. I am also producing an album for my daughter Liona Jae as well as working on an EP with my youngest daughter on an Anti Bullying campaign called Spread the Love. I’m also going to be doing some production for RUN DMC and we are thinking about Industry Shakedown 2 with Pete Rock.”
Have you always been bearded Bumpy Knuckles? Or was there a time with no beard?
“There have been times, I’ve been known to flit back and forth. In the early days I would rock the moustache and goatee combination – a signature for men in my family. As I got into my thirties I started working the shadow beard as I felt it was a good time to upgrade to a new look. Now I am a bit older I let it grow quite full, I think it is more masculine and I enjoy that look. I think God’s gift to men was the beard”
How do you keep yourself looking sharp? Tell us a bit about your facial hair grooming routine…
“First off I like the clean cut razor from the barber. I will keep it in check in between visits but he is the man who knows how to trim and shape my beard best – I’ve been going to the same guy for years. In terms of what I use at home, for years I have used a couple of different things – in particular olive oil and Jamaican black castor oil. The olive oil and Jamaican black castor oil is great for softening the beard and giving it a sheen, as well as a nice aroma. As of late however I have discovered your Bear Grooming range. The big surprise for me was the Beard Wash, that stuff is amazing. The smell is really good, I use it 2 to 3 times a week as you need to let those natural oils sink in as well. I still go back to my old favourites now and then, but what I love about the Bear Grooming stuff is that everything I need is right there and it works really well. ”
If you could grow your beard as big and long as you want, what would you go for?
“I am actually working on this, I want to get there. I’m thinking a big beard with the length down to mid chest – but really, really neat and trimmed. With a little help from my barber I’ll get there eventually!”