Kanye Wests classy style and Commons uplifting conscious have you thinking that Chicago is butter-soft? First, make sure your medical insurance is straight, and then venture to the Windy City and make such a bold statement to any member of the Goon Squad. Led by Atlantic Records recent acquisition Bump J, the Goons have made it evident through their sold-out mixtape series that the Chi is as Do Or Die as those Po Pimps.
Bump J [short for Bumpy Johnson] is all about broadcasting the sides of Chicago unseen and unheard in the rap world. The 23-year-old has only been blessing microphones for four years, yet he already has the city on lock via grassroots campaigning and cosigns from his lands alumni such as Twista and the aforementioned Common. Presently prepping his official debut, Nothing To Lose, with assistance from Kanye, Sha Money XL, and Trackboyz, Bump has large plans for a nationwide takeover.
One listen to his music and it becomes clear that mass appeal is inevitable. Sporting a flow that is equally deft at crossovers and street-sweepers, Bump has the charisma of a star. Whether listeners beyond Illinois borders agree is still to be determined, but with Bumps crowning as Best Midwest Mixtape Artist at Justos Mixtape Awards, all coasts are paying attention. AllHipHop.com caught the calm before the storm, building with Bump about the road he has taken thus far, Chicago misconceptions, and what his future holds.
AllHipHop.com: Lets take it to the beginning. Before Rap became your fulltime hustle, how big was it in your life?
Bump J: It really wasn't a part of my life. I've always been the guy that my n***as
would come to if they had a question about Hip-Hop, or they wanted to know who is the best. They'd come and ask me, and my word would make it official. I always knew about Hip-Hop, and I always loved listening to it. I just wasn't on the microphone with it up until 2001, when my brother got killed. He got killed in front of my grandmothers house. After that happened, I realized that the street s**t wasnt the way to go. In a way, that situation is the main reason that Im here doing this Rap thing. It inspired me to do better with life, and make a name for myself in my brothers honor, because he used to tell me that I was talented all the time.
AllHipHop.com: How difficult was it turning that love into actual songwriting and freestyling?
Bump J: Really, I guess I always had the skill. Once I started and wrote my first rap, everybody was loving it. That just made me confident. I just built off that. After the first motherf**ker told me I was good, I felt like I could do anything as far as being an MC.
AllHipHop.com: Before you gained a name as an MC, you had a real reputation throughout the streets of Chicago for other reasons. How was the transition of getting away from that life?
Bump J: It was hard, man. I had to quit that street s**t cold turkey. Doing all that was how I was eating. So, it was a point where I was using the money I had stacked up, and that s**t started running out. I had to either keep on going with this Rap thing and hope it turns some profit, or head right back into the streets. I made the decision to go with Rap, and eventually I got my deal. The mixtapes was helping me grub, but at first, I was used to getting that fast money. It had started coming in really slow for a while, so it was definitely difficult staying away from the streets.
AllHipHop.com: What made you stick with the Rap thing through that time?
Bump J: It was just the love. Going out on the streets and feeling the love from different people. Normally, it was on some, Oh there go Bump! Let's pop at him! Or, they were running from me. Now, it's like, Yo, there go Bump! They come up to me and show love. N***as in the streets was demanding so much, so I felt like I had to give what they wanted and keep going with it. I just knew it wasn't no competition for me in Chicago, as far as other rappers. There is just nothing in Chicago that can f**k with me. If anybody
comes to Chicago, then they have to hear about me, because I'm the best here. That is the mentality I have.
AllHipHop.com: How often did you prior reputation creep into your Rap world?
Bump J: It did creep in, but you know what? That street life helped me. People took to me because they knew I was, and still am, a real dude. They was like, Damn, what this n***a is rapping about is all true. All around the board, the streets gave me love. GDs, Stones, BDs, Latin Kings. They were all showing me love because I was speaking their life. That's actually how the Goon Squad formed. It was just all different n***as wanting to run with somebody real.
AllHipHop.com: So Goon Squad was something that wasn't around before Rap?
Bump J: Yeah. Actually, it was Gorilla Entertainment when I first started rapping. It was always about incorporating something from the streets, and I was a gorilla in the streets. Then, 50 came out with the G-Unit. I had heard of 50 before, but I didn't know he was on some Guerilla Unit stuff. I had heard that How To Rob s**t. I just said, F**k it. I was already calling us goons, so we became the Goon Squad.
AllHipHop.com: Goon Squad is definitely heavy out there in Chicago. Explain the Goon Squad for people who are unaware.
Bump J: It's like a big treaty in Chicago. It's unheard of for all of these people to be in the same room together. GDs and Stones just don't go in the same room, and they are all in my clique. What it was, we would go out and they'd be my promotional tool. We'd go out 500 deep everyday, go to different parts of town and they'd be promoting me. They did whatever that entailed. Putting up posters, handing out T-shirts, doing free shows. It was like our own little Atlantic Records out there. I knew all of the connected people in the streets, so the word got around all of Chicago quick. Basically, if every top dude from every tip is talking about me to all they little soldiers, it's like, now I got all of the soldiers running with me. Before Bump, nobody could get all these cats in the same room together.
AllHipHop.com: How smooth did all of that go in the beginning?
Bump J: I can't even lie. At first, we were going out whooping n***as' asses. Doing whatever we had to do to get a buzz. We would go to different clubs and beat up whatever rappers were in there. It was just making a statement. If a rapper was there talking crazy or looking crazy, we'd beat they ass. However it go. People started saying, Don't f**k with them Goon Squad n***as! They'll f**k you up! Whatever we could add on to my buzz, we were doing it.
AllHipHop.com: It's crazy how some people may see Chicago as more of a conscious area, because of the style that Common and Kanye West have.
Bump J: Yeah, and it's time people see all of Chicago. With Los Angeles, they had Dr. Dre and the G thing and the N.W.A. jheri curls and the lowriders. From all that, I knew about Compton and Inglewood without ever going out there myself. It was how they explained it in their music. Same with New York, with the bookbags and the spray paint. I know about all of that s**t because the rappers let me know what to expect before I went there. That's exactly what I'm going to give people through my music, pieces of Chicago they had no idea existed. Nobody knows about South Shore, the low end, the West Side, the Wild Hunneds. I want people to just know all about the city before they come here. It's like people from random areas knowing about Bloods and Crips and never even meeting one in their whole life. Rap and Hip-Hop movies taught them. People really don't know about Chicago. They know it's a gangsta town, but they don't know how gangsta.
AllHipHop.com: When will people get to hear all of this on your album? It's been getting some release date delays.
Bump J: Basically, I'm trying to get famous before I drop it. Something could happen tomorrow where I'm right in the public eye. If so, I'll drop the album tomorrow. I just don't want it to just drop. I'm not going to hold it forever, though. It's all on me. I'm the one pushing it back.
AllHipHop.com: You were slightly in the public eye when you won Best Midwest Mixtape Rapper at the Justo Mixtape Awards in New York City. What does that award mean to you?
Bump J: It let me know that hard work pays off. I wasn't even expecting that. I wasn't even aware that those awards were going on. Somebody called me and let me know I had won one. It's not like it's a Grammy, but it is a hood Grammy. I wasn't very ecstatic about it. It just let me know that hard work is paying off. I know I can't ever stop doing those mixtapes, no matter how big I get.
AllHipHop.com: One thing about your music that stands out is your flow. It's very universal, and it sounds just as fitting on harder songs as it does on more commercial records.
Bump J: Yeah, definitely. I think that comes from growing up in the Midwest, and being a connoisseur of all music. I listened to MC Eiht, AMG, D.O.C., and then UGK, and then Rakim and Kool G Rap and Wu-Tang. In Chicago, I had Twista, so I know how to twist. Being in the middle of the country, it just comes natural. Any beat that you put in front of me, I can rap to it.
AllHipHop.com: You dont even have an album out yet, and already there is an interesting rumor floating around about you. It's been said that you already have your own clothing line through Ecko. What's the story with that?
Bump J: Man, I don't know how people find stuff like that out! It is something that is in the making. The people over there had heard the music and feel the movement. So it's definitely something that will happen eventually.
AllHipHop.com: Would it be called Goon Squad Clothing?
Bump J: No, no. I think G-Unit f**ed up with that. I'm working on all the details still, so just stay tuned on that. First, I have to get the album out and let it do its thing. I have a lot in store. It's only the beginning right now.