Tha Konexion

Artist: Freddie Foxxx/Bumpy KnucklesTitle: Tha KonexionRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Brolin Winning

An undeniable O.G., Freddie Foxxx has been putting it down since the eighties, working with the likes of Flavor Unit, KRS-One, D.I.T.C., and Gang Starr. Known for his roughneck rhyme style and take-no-shit mentality, his aggro-flow is as intimidating as his heavyweight boxer appearance. Three years ago, he released the classic, card-pulling LP Industry Shakedown, on which he attacked the fakeness of the rap game, calling out specific artists and label execs alike. After problems with Landspeed, he bounced over to BBE, returning with the second installment of his hip-hop trilogy, Tha Konexion.

Throughout the album, Bumpy unleashes angry tongue-lashings towards the usual suspects; fake rappers, flossy cats, and industry ass-kissers. All the while, reiterating his true love for the game and status as self-proclaimed king of the underground. Musically, he takes more chances here, such as the Southern-styled "Step Up", the mellower "Tell Me" (with Bridget), and "Angel", which features verses from his young daughter.

Though it's difficult to top earlier, riot-inciting anthems like "Bumpy Knuckles Baby"- several ferocious selections burst through the speakers. The DJ Rukas produced "Mega Bomb Dropper" definitely lives up to it's explosive name, with hard-hitting snares, menacing keys, and rugged scratches. Longtime running partne DJ Premier contributes two tracks, most notably "Lazy", loaded with his signature chops and some very dope bass. Other heaters include the horn and chime fuelled "Gangsta's Again", and the high-octane title track, which flips a classic sample recently rocked by the Monsta Island Czars. He also addresses the aftermath of 9-11 on the final tune, "New Millenium."

While Bumpy's verbals remain as rowdy and powerful as ever, the album's production occasionally falters. Perhaps that's inevitable, seeing as most of the beats on Industry Shakedown were provided by such an all-star line-up. Diamond D, Pete Rock, Da Beatminerz, and Alchemist are nowhere to be found here, with 13 of the 18 beats credited to his self a.k.a. Hidden Agenda. Most of the beat-work is rock solid, but a few numbers fall flat.

Whether you're a longtime Foxxx follower or a recent convert, Tha Konexion delivers exactly what you'd expect from an artist of such a high caliber; brutally honest rhymes that simultaneously attack and enlighten, from an original player with equal knowledge of the industry and the street. He may be too hard for the trend-driven pop charts, but if dues paid and sheer determination equaled commercial success, Bumpy Knucks would be number one with a bullet.