Words By: Hallway Jay
Music is minor to the man named after a toll-free highway with no intersections, usually having traffic routed on and off by means of a cloverleaf, yet this Freeway needs no luck on his side. After a hiatus of almost five years we see an undeniably personal album covered with both club bangers and soulful hooks. Finally Freeway is “Free at Last”, Executive produced by rap moguls Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and smothered with production from everywhere except his own camp. At first glance no Just Blaze and Kanye West is somewhat an alarming sign yet there still seems to be great production within the track list.
The First track you here is Marsha Ambrosius over a flute solo singing “This Can’t Be Real” In between the Karma Production flutes, symbals, and congas you here a timeline of his life up until this time. The second track “It’s Over” finds Jake One’s trumpets and samples “taking over the track”, on this track we here free explain why no Just Blaze and it is here where a braggadocios Free is at his best with a scratched up chorus this becomes a highlight upon the album.
Although this track becomes a shadow to Bink’s “Still Got Love” where his word play sews the track together with his needle sharp flow bring together the sample with the song structure.
The Barry Bonds of the line-up is the Dame Grease produced, Jay-Z featured, Roc Boy anthem “Roc-A-Fella Billionaires”, where we find a primed off of American Gangster Jay spit flawless lyrics in tandem with the omnipotent flow of Freeway. The sample of the album has to go to Bink for using this Gladys Knight sample. This fierce beat drops in so hard, the symphony of drums are beautiful and the sample just adds cake to the icing, I can’t find a harder drop out, definitely a gem. Although just as high as he took us on that track, he drops us just that hard. Despite the hooks that 50 has laced over the past years this has to be the worst track on the track. The J.R. Rotem produced “Take It to the Top featuring 50 Cent” gives us a taste of a more softer Free yet I have to admit while personal growth is great and the hook is very catchy this is still one of worst tracks I ever heard Free compose.
Dangerous LLC brings us a collage of pianos over decent drums over that always oversaturated concept of “why are they hating on me”, yet “Spit that Shit” is a so-so song. Track eight shows a lighter side of Freeway yet more fluidly and much better than that of “Take It to the Top” with Chad “Wes” Hamilton’s “Reppin’ the Streets”. While a much better than track is presented there still seems to be something missing from within this track.
The surprising production and possibly my pick for Underrated song is the Kidz in Hall producer Double-O assisted and titled track “Free At Last”. While started with a repeated sample and piano roll and Premier-esque boom-bap drums we here Free state: “Flow splendid/ Flow terrific/ Flow so damn gifted/ different style switchin shit I put your artist on/Old school hip-hop rap wrapped in a modern song/I rappin monotone/ I hope you not alarmed”.
After which we see, one of my favorites of all-time, Scarface featured on the Chad “Wes” Hamilton produced “Baby Don’t Do It”, here is classic Roc-A-Fella sample usage where Free competes with Face yet the soul and depth of FaceMobs voice overshadows Freeway by miles. The beat veteran Needlz never seems to let down and again his fast paced epic “Nuttin’ On Me” is a great example of how a fast paced beat seems to always accentuate Free’s style although the “shimmy shimmy cocoa puff line is the worst, buy the album and you’ll know what I mean.
Don Cannon of the Aphilliates produced “Walk Wit Me” features a great sample chorus along with the always amazing Busta Rhymes with the newest Roc-A-Fella signee Jadakiss. This song doesn’t disappoint either each bring gritty verses that all seem to bring different flavors, great collabo. The first single is the second to last track on the album and the Rick Ross featured “Lights Get Low” starts out as a generic synth heavy Cool & Dre track yet the chorus flips into a melodical feel escorted to us by Dre’s vocals and the smooth bassline. Ending out the album is DJ Noodles produced “I Cry” a real introspective Freeway is found finally given us a deeper feeling of where not Freeway but Leslie Pridgen has come to.
Overall this Freeway is a deeper more in depth Freeway but failed attempts by 50 Cent and over usage of samples bring this great album down to just a good album, yet in comparison it is one of the better albums of the year.