I was made aware of Roman Flowrs shortly after my arrival in Chicago in 2013. The artist released his debut full-length, #OneHellOfAPromo, and it quickly caught my attention. Recording over instrumentals by Soulection talents like Sango, Esta, IAMNOBODI, and others, the twelve song project sounded both Chicago and worldwide. Since that time over two years ago, Roman Flowrs has gone in various directions, honing in on instrumental projects. In 2014, for example, he released an ode to Denise Huxtable from The Cosby Show in the form of a beat tape. Following that, he crafted the alter ego Bumpy Mayfield, a soulful and smooth character known to churn out some of the smoothest production from the Windy City to Tinseltown. Since moving out to L.A. and creating these alter egos and these instrumental projects (most recently with Englewood Get the $), we felt it necessary to interview Roman Flowrs aka Bumpy Mayfield aka Uncle Bumpy. Alongside the interview is the premiere of his debut project under the Bumpy moniker. Enjoy Midnights Under Palm Trees above as you read the Q+A below.
Hey man, how's it going?
Everything has been going pretty well. I’ve been on quite the hiatus from releasing rap music since my last project One Hell Of A Promo. It’s funny, my friends would hit me up and be like, ‘Where’s the new music? Are you still making music?’ But I’m just in a different space business wise and musically. Just because I’m not dropping music every month and you’re seeing my name on blogs doesn’t mean I’m not working. My main focus right is my brand sxxds! and getting the music and art that I like out there to the masses. I learned a lot and changed a lot. I was so focused on making the best music possible that I wasn’t really focusing on building relationships. A lot of artists that are controlling their releases/bookings can relate to the stress of jumping from a creative realm to the business side of things. I’m excited for this year.
What's the story behind Bumpy Mayfield?
It was mid-September 2013 and I was finishing up a mixing season with Classick for One Hell Of A Promo at Classick Studios. 95% of my sessions were late nights, so most of the time I would kick it with the homies that were there cooking up. The best music is made there from the hours of 12am-9am. Everybody was there, Chance, Smino, Patrick Pryor, Tapez, Chuck LI, Anthony White, The Gift, and a handful of the city’s best engineers so there was always a lot of energy. I would like to compare it to Questlove’s experience at Electric Lady Studio during the Late night Voodoo sessions. Everybody was there D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Common, Mos Def, etc. along with the best musicians in the city jamming in each other’s sessions. This particular night Cam O’bi & Tobi Lou were in the blue room vibing out and recording vocals to this crazy soulful beat that Cam cooked up. We all were recording ideas and harmonies, and I was playing with my voice, doing a pretty good Louis Armstrong impression and I laid down some dope stuff. Soon I started to put a story to the voice I was making. Bumpy Mayfield was Curtis Mayfield’s younger cousin. He was there in 1969 at Woodstock watching Jimi Hendrix play the national anthem on the guitar and he was part of the Soul Train house band before the show moved to Los Angeles. He never really got his shine, but was always respected by the greats. I always used to have alter egos like YUNG $EED$, Dom Hennessey, and Heero Yuy but they all had different vibes musically. Bumpy Mayfield is no different, but means a lot more to me because the essence of it reminds me of the songs my mom would play while cooking breakfast on Saturday mornings when I was kid.
What’s the difference between Bumpy and Roman as producers?
I always tell people I’m a music producer that can rap his ass off but that’s only because I focus on all of the musical elements, not just putting together a 16. People think I started off rapping then started producing later on but it’s the other way around. When I’m in production mode as Roman Flowrs, I just try to venture off into genres and sharpen my skills as an all-around music producer. Bumpy is a lil' different though. I’ll vibe out to some Roy Ayers, Average White Band and a lot of bass-driven records, take the feeling I get from those songs and make them more modern. I like working closely with musicians while working on Bumpy records. The musicians that help me bring some of the songs to life was Thomas DaVinci - an artist/piano player from Chicago, Emi!io - a sax player for the ASU jazz band, KHAM - a dope bass player from Augusta, GA who I gave the nick name Thunder Kitten [laughs], and TRiO, a 16-year-old drummer, keyboardist and bass player that’s going to be problem in the music industry if he keep going the way he’s going.
You first released "Seven Minutes Before Midnight" and now Midnights Under Palm Trees. Can you describe these titles?
When I moved to the West Coast, the energy had me super geeked to work on music. Just being able to take a swim in the middle of winter was amazing to me because Chicago is basically cold for six months out the year, and to move to a place where the city doesn’t shut down because of weather was everything for me. I like working on music at night because it’s a different setting. Kinda like a peaceful transition into the new day. "Seven Minutes Before Midnights" was the pregame before the clock hits 12am, the countdown basically to the vibes I’m about to venture into once the new day starts. Midnights Under Palm Trees I would describe as an ode to my younger self growing up, falling in love with soul music, and I’m just letting him know he was right about us falling in love with California.
How would you describe the sound of Bumpy Mayfield to a stranger?
Some old ass musician linked up with his nephews and the shit they’re making is amazing. It’s like doing shrooms at an Earth Wind & Fire concert.
From Chicago to L.A. Does your environment directly reflect your sound?
The move didn’t really affect me musically. As an artist, I always try to push myself to sharpen my sound and evolve. The move did affect me personally, though. On an economic level, it made me go harder. I’ve never seen so many well off black people with mansions, thriving communities, etc. Of course, every city has a ghetto, but compared to coming from a place where it's segregated on so many levels and now being in a place where I see black owned banks, people that look like me, and people my age owning businesses lets me know I have to go hard so that once I’m in position I can help the young black entrepreneurs in my hometown get their dreams out without extra road blocks.
What can we expect to hear/see from Bumpy/Roman in the coming weeks/months?
A lot of sxxds! are getting planted so I’m just working on getting these ideas out whether it’s music, film, or fashion. I’m working with a lot of different artists, known and unknown, so this year will be interesting.
Any advice for artists working on their craft?
Never give up. You can’t have one foot in dealing with this art shit. Always learn from your mistakes, read those contracts, and keep a genuine circle around you. No yes men. Never give up and water yourself...SERIOUSLY.
Any final words/thoughts/shout-outs?
I’m curating more projects through sxxds! and collabing with other brands. Also look out for Davia Janay (pictured above), a dope singer/song writer from The Bronx that I’m producing with TRiO, who’s her little brother. The EP is called FLOWR POWR. S/O TheseDays for giving me a platform to share my art and represent my city. ENGLEWOOD GET THE $ - Plant those sxxds!