Since Freeway blazed Jay-Zs “1-900-Hustler,” hes remained a sturdy fixture in Hip-Hop. Now the Philadelphia native son returns with Free At Last, his second album. His debut, Philadelphia Freeway was a mere appetizer and soul food Free has in store. The bearded rapper known for his upset delivery is a man of few words, but talks to AllHipHop.com about everything from moving to Saudi Arabia, to Beanie Sigel as State Propertys head, and everything in the middle.
AllHipHop.com: Give me one word to describe the direction youre going in with this album.
AllHipHop.com: What made you decide to go that way?
Free: Mmm, thats how I was feelin ya know? Its a good feelin. You gonna feel it.
AllHipHop.com: When you say soulful what do you mean? Do you have a lot of samples?
Free: I dont have a lot of samples, no. Its more of a feeling. Soulful to me is like when you hear it you feel it in your soul. You know its real. It came from my heart.
AllHipHop.com: Tell me about production, whos supplying the beats?
Free: I got my man Just Blaze. I got Scott Storch, he did like three joints my man Chad West from Philly, a couple people from Philly. Mannie Fresh did a couple joints, like two. Free at Last!.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking of Free at Last of Black political leaders. Recently Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam called together a Hip-Hop meeting of the minds in New York City and urged those in the room to come together and unify in Hip-Hop to help better the failing Black and Brown communities. Do you think that unity could ever be possible in the business were in?
Free: Not really. Unless something happened. Like somebody killed or something like that. Like somebody major then people might come together.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think theres a necessity for it? Do you even give a damn?
Free: I mean I care to a certain extent but-
AllHipHop.com: His reasoning is that its for the greater good of Black people, not just for Hip-Hop. But that Hip-Hop is at the forefront of Black and Brown communities so we need to take it in our hands.
Free: I mean I think it would be good if everybody came together. But I think people are gonna do what they wanna do anyway. I mean you cant even get people to come together in a building. Look at Jay, Biggs, and Dame. Theyre not even together no more.
AllHipHop.com: Did that surprise you?
AllHipHop.com: How much did their conflict affect you in terms of the family that Roc-A-Fella had made?
Free: I mean, it f**ked my head a lil bit, but you know, you keep it moving
AllHipHop.com: How do you like it over here at Def Jam?
Free: It’s a good place, ‘cause at Def Jam the whoooole building backs your project. You got the marketing and everybody else working with you. And I got Jay as the President and he’s gonna make sure everything is straight on the business end, so I can just fall back and be an artist – be the artist that I am.
AllHipHop.com: Describe the artist that you are.
Free: Gangsta. And Im humble. And Im from the streets. And I put the streets into my music. Ima reality rapper, you know. I rap about things I see: things that go on around me and thats what you get. What I see is what you get.
AllHipHop.com: What was the biggest change in inspiration for this album in comparison to Philadelphia Freeway?
Free: Well, as far as inspiration and everything Ive seen more. Ive been around the world a couple times ya know? I seen things and Ive seen other people thats really doin it so that influences me to wanna really do it you know what Im sayin?
AllHipHop.com: So on this new album were you pressured at all in this bigger label situation to go for a certain demographic?
Free: Nah Im cool. I just do me. I might have a couple in my ear talking about do some songs for the ladies. But I got this one song with Sleepy Brown [since] they said I was too rough on the ladies.
AllHipHop.com: In terms of Jay, how much did he help you on this project?
Free: Well, I let him hear stuff and hell be like, Thats it, thats hot, but we aint really down in the studio. But hes there. I work and then I bring it back to him, he tell me what direction I should go him, like You should do some of this or that.
AllHipHop.com: Could you see yourself doin this forever?
Free: Well I dont wanna be 55 relyin on a show. You gotta have something to fall back on. I mean I cant rap forever.
AllHipHop.com: Why not?
Free: Because Ima be too old.
AllHipHop.com: Why? Stevie Wonders still singing.
Free: Its different.
Free: Cause hes singin, and Im rappin.
AllHipHop.com: Oh, rappin has an age limit?
Free: I mean, who wanna be like 40 rappin you know what Im saying?
AllHipHop.com: So speaking about other avenues to fall back on tell me about State Property 2. Was it a good experience?
Free: Yea, and I definitely want to get some more movie money.
AllHipHop.com: I feel you on that. Did you enjoy your first hand at acting?
Free: Yea it was good. It was something different and I really enjoyed it.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think you could ever get to a point where Sam Jackson would want to be in a movie with you on the acting tip?
Free: Probably so, hopefully.
AllHipHop.com: You did State Property the movie, but tell me about youre new situation. Not that you werent solo before, but at this point I feel like you came in with a team and right now its disbanded.
Free: I mean its still there, but I feel where you comin from being in the public on the outside lookin in.
AllHipHop.com: So can you clear it up from the outside.
Free: Everythings straight. As far as State Property, everybodys still cool with each other. Its just the s**t with Dame and Jay and them.
AllHipHop.com: Is there any beef with Beans?
AllHipHop.com: So in terms of State Property, people on the outside are unsure of why there is no State Property anymore-
Free: Who said that?!
AllHipHop.com: Sparks, in an interview right here on AllHipHop.com.
Free: He was probably high. Theres still a State Property, if I have anything to say about it. We just did a State Property show in Philly.
AllHipHop.com: When Dame is doing interviews saying that Beans has called for no more State Prop its very confusing. So when Beans comes out of jail, will the crew be back together?
Free: Yeah, were like Voltron. Yall know, you gotta from the head, form the body, cmon now.
AllHipHop.com: Have you gone to visit him?
Free: I aint go visit him. I talk to him, write him and stuff, but I aint go visit him.
AllHipHop.com: Why not?
Free: Cause you need the paper to go visit him. I didnt get the paper yet. Like everybody been rushin up there to go see, but I aint get the chance to the paper yet. Then they took his visitors away like five times so I gotta wait for his visitors to get reinstated, then Ima try to get the paper and go and see him. But he about to come home in July.
AllHipHop.com: So how was it working with a different crew, on the Ice City project?
Free: It was cool. I did that for my homies. I basically let them do everything and then I came in and put some verses on some stuff and when they needed me I was there for them.
AllHipHop.com: So do you have a label situation of your own that youre tryin to work out?
Free: In a minute. Right now Im just concentrating on getting Free at Last out you know making that stamp, getting that platinum album that I need – that I shouldve gotten that first time around ya know? Then maybe Ill start venturing into other things.
AllHipHop.com: So where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Free: Probably multi-platinum, with businesses, stuff like that.
AllHipHop.com: So its all based on money?
Free: I mean, basically. I mean, I love music. But the bottom line is, you gotta get your money, right? I got a family to take care of. I moved my family out the hood I gotta keep em out the hood. Cant go backwards like Rocky. You seen Rocky IV? Or was it Rocky V? He had to move back in the hood because his accountant took his money.
AllHipHop.com: Whats the hood like in Philly?
Free: In Philly we dont have projects, we have row houses. Theyre like lil matchboxes next each other and the blocks be [small] so if you got beef with somebody, you gonna see em. Its not like New York where you can weave around. Nah, if you on the block with somebody you got beef with and they start shootin, you gotta shoot back, so its tight. Its worse than the projects. Ive been blessed.
AllHipHop.com: Do you still follow the Muslim faith?
Free: Yea, I just took a trip to Saudi Arabia.
AllHipHop.com: Wow, how was that?
Free: It was beautiful. Everything, the people, just you know-Ive been Muslim all my life and thats like-in Islam theres something called the Five Pillars of Islam and thats one of the pillars. If you get the means to go Saudi Arabia then youre supposed to do it because thats where everything started at. It was beautiful ya know? The people were real hospitable. It was nice.
AllHipHop.com: You know Saudi Arabia is the number one resource for oil in the world.
Free: Yeah, they rich over there. I was at one of the princes castles. Im tryin to get a house over there. Cause you know whats good? $100 is $373 over there so Ill go there caked up. And then if you get a house over there, you own it. Like you probably could get something crazy for like $75,000 American money, and then you own it. Like you dont have to pay no taxes or anything. No worries or nothing. Its you.
AllHipHop.com: And in terms of moves youre making what can we look out for?
Free: Aside from the album you can check for more movies cause Im about to get some more scripts. If you ever come to Philly I got a business in Philly: Custom Motor Sports, I can pimp your ride for ya and Im here. State Property, Roc-A-Fella, Free at Last July 19th, free Beanie Sigel!