In the nucleus of OC's rap scene lies a burst of energy called Supreme Cerebral. The man born on the East Coast as Bradley James has been involved with a score of projects--including the sequel to his alter ego Bugzy Nino's first album--collaborating with hip-hop reputables Termanology and Action Bronson, as well as locals Kadillak Kaz to C4mula.
The MC, who titled his newest work Your Favorite Rapper's Rapper, never shies away from being cocky. We met at a Tustin studio for a mastering session that comes less than two months after the release of his most recent full-length LP. Several times, James would break down for me snippets of his cleverest bars, revealing a thorough understanding of melody. We previewed music from his upcoming album, Brass Knuckle Consortium, with his producer, Flip Da Soul Fisher, and songstress Francesca. A spleen-splitting first verse over one of Flip's beats beautifully transitioned into the neo-soul singer crooning the chorus. "That gave me chills!" James says.
The 29-year-old believes his most complete work so far was the 2012 21-track LP, Muladoe King, the title of which is a play on his mixed ethnicity. But James has developed several personas in his music since he started rapping on dubbed cassette beats into a karaoke machine in 1996. As a freshman at Tustin High School, he battled with upperclassmen at lunchtime, and the music on his album The Blockness Monster featured a Dungeons & Dragons vibe, with themed tracks such as "Rise of the Lycans."
"I was talking about Lord of the Rings--goblins and ghouls type [of] shit," he says of the mythological swag he brought into the studio at the time.
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Under the influence of flicks such as Mobsters and New Jack City and the emergence of the Dipset/Byrdgang movement that sprang up around 2005, James established another persona, Bugzy Nino. "I needed that drug-dealer alter ego," he says.
A need for cash also contributed to the creation of Bugzy Nino. For those curious about more info on this alter ego, his Facebook page implores such seekers to "ask the feds."
James likes to use his versatility to keep people guessing. "I like to make niggas be like, 'Oh, shit, what'd he say?'" he says.
For more info on Supreme Cerebral or to download Your Favorite Rapper's Rapper, visit bugzynino17.bandcamp.com.