Like many other members of his class, veteran emcee Bumpy Knuckles (born James Campbell and commonly known as Freddie Foxxx) has successfully secured longevity in the rap game by consistently overcoming hardships and reinventing himself along the way. First getting his start at the age of 10, the Long Island-born recording artist became enamored with emceeing after winning his first battle as a teenager. Utilizing the alias “Freddie C,” he made his debut on wax in 1986 with the group Supreme Force, along with Cool Cee and Easy E, with the collaborative track “You Gotta Come Out Fresh / Handling Things.”
That same year the now legendary Eric B. was looking for a rapper to collaborate with him, and unfortunately Foxxx missed the meeting—losing the opportunity to fellow New Yorker, Rakim. As a result of this infamous twist of fate, tensions grew between the two rappers that would span for decades. Eric B., however, remained on good terms with Freddie—even producing his 1989 full-length debut, Freddie Foxxx is Here. Following his solo debut, Foxxx parted ways with MCA (his label at the time) to join Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit crew.
Epic Records later shelved his 1993 LP, Crazy Like a Foxxx, after promotional copies leaked, with the album later seeing a 2008 release through Fat Beats. He also made his first foray into acting during this time, appearing in the 1993 films Who’s the Man? and Philadelphia. Despite building a loyal following and boasting collaborations with the likes of Naughty by Nature, Gang Starr, M.O.P., and D.I.T.C.’s O.C., Foxxx didn’t have much luck with major labels—inspiring him to begin his own imprint Kjac. His self-released sophomore project, 2000’s Industry Shakedown, marked his first utilizing the moniker Bumpy Knuckles, with the alter ego being born after a fan commented on the parallel between his boxing skills and his oft-intense temper. The record featured production from DJ Premier, Diamond D., and Pete Rock, and fired away lyrically at the evils of the music industry. The project moved over 200,000 copies.
The next decade marked an especially fruitful time for Foxxx’s career. In addition to squashing his beef with Rakim, he also released a variety of albums, including Konexion (2003), Poetry / Gangsta’s Again (2003), the re-release of Crazy Like a Foxxx (2008), Music from the Man Vol. 1 (with Jesse West, 2010), Royalty Check (with KRS-One, 2011), Lyrical Workout (with Statik Selektah, 2011), Kolexxxion (with DJ Premier, 2012) and Ambition (with Statik Selektah, 2012). During the five-year hiatus between full-lengths, he released an onslaught of mixtapes, as well as made guest appearances on projects from MF Doom, Akrobatik and John Cena (for the entertainer’s WWE-released album, 2005’s You Can’t See Me). In 2006, Foxxx was heavily involved with the WWE’s SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006 soundtrack, producing each of the hip-hop tracks on the album in addition to contributing as an emcee. Most recently, Foxxx appeared on MC Eiht’s 2017 album Which Way Iz West.