Freeway Philadelphia Freeway on 2LP
Rappers have been rhyming about hustling, living in the ghetto and the perils of street life since the dawn of hip-hop. But what distinguishes Freeway is his unique approach to tackling these subjects starting with his acclaimed 2003 debut album, Philadelphia Freeway. Freeway neither boastfully brags about his days hustling on the crime-ridden street corners of his native North Philly, nor does he dogmatically preach at his listeners while lecturing them to live righteously. Instead, his lyrics are laced with ghetto-weary "been there, done that" sentiment that implies there is life beyond the block. Call it educated thuggery, if you will.
Packed with high octane beats produced by such in-demand track masters as Just Blaze, Bink, and Kanye West, along with then newcomers Black Keys and Miles Ruggedness Freeway crafted Philadelphia Freeway as if he were throwing out a lifeline to anyone who could relate to his tales from the gutter. One of the album's many highlights is "Life," which Freeway penned as an open letter to a childhood friend named Book who is serving life in prison. Another standout, "Goodbye," which unfolds like the classic mystery crime thriller, The Usual Suspects, serves as a vehicle for Freeway to bid farewell not only to street life, but also a certain way of thinking and the mentality that goes along with a criminal lifestyle.
Another ingredient that enhances Freeway's flavor is his unique vocal delivery. "He finds flow patterns inside the beat that just ain't there somehow," raved Young Guru, Roc-A-Fella's in-house studio engineer. "Everybody else would do the same old simple flow, but Free flips it and he's really saying something", he continues. "It's wordplay but it's genius."