Bump J Credit: Courtesy the artist

In the 2000s, Chicago hip-hop broke out via Kanye West, Rhymefest, Lupe Fiasco, and the Cool Kids, but no other local rapper was as emblematic of the city during that era as Terrance Boykin, better known as Bump J. With his unassuming intellect, everyman worldview, and easygoing poise, Bump J approaches rapping as if the instrumentals he works with have to fit his flow rather than be calibrated the other way around. For a moment in the mid-aughts as major labels came through town to kick the scene’s tires, Bump was primed to be the next breakthrough, riding a series of hot mixtapes to a deal with Atlantic. The label released a few Bump J singles: one with Rick James (“On the Run”), two produced by Kanye (“Pushaman” actually features a verse by ’Ye, though Bump outperforms him), and one that was featured in a McDonald’s ad (“Move Around”). By 2006 he parted ways with Atlantic, and three years later it looked as though his rap future was in the tank after he took a plea deal for an armed robbery he allegedly committed in 2007. Behind bars, though, Bump’s renown blossomed, and he’s become a godfather to a young generation of Chicago rappers. His sentence ended in April, and he’s gingerly stepped back into the spotlight, recording with Harvey hero Ty Money (“Yes and No”) and bringing heavies Yo Gotti and Pusha T in for his second postprison single (“Fuck Up the Summa”). Tonight is Bump J’s first major public appearance since his release; his position on the bill for WGCI’s Summer Jam is a testament to how the city feels about him.   v