“A man’s character is defined by his hustle…” – Freeway
For most of us outside the Philadelphia area, our first taste of Freeway’s music came with the release of his critically acclaimed debut, Philadelphia Freeway. With Just Blaze’s hands all in the production mix alongside impressive outings from the then-solidified Roc-A-Fella label, Freeway seemed poised to make some noise, but not in the way we would think. After the disbandment of what we were accustomed to seeing, Freeway could’ve easily packed it in and found a different hustle, but thankfully he didn’t. From his follow-up LP, Free At Last, to numerous drops and mixtapes (including The Stimulus Package, an incredible outing from he and respected producer Jake One), it’s all brought us to this point in his career where he’s a respected emcee on virtually all fronts.
He could easily choose to mail it in yet again, but by now we know that he won’t. It’s with that mindstate that Freeway drops off his latest mixtape, Freedom of Speech, a 16-track mixtape that shows off literally every side of Freeway we’ve come to expect from him, and a couple that we didn’t. Backed with the Don Cannon cosign, along with production from the aforementioned Jake One, Mike Jerz, B. Jones, Thelonious Martin, Sap (who produced Game’s “Holy Water” single that dropped just a day ago) Cardiak, and more, Freeway takes aim and delivers yet another consistently sound project, even if some of it tends to drone on old topics we’ve heard before.
Freeway does take a couple of chances on the project, and the willingness to try something out of his comfort range is something you don’t see that often. From his party flow on “Workout”, to the bachelor lifestyle portrayed on “Bearded Wonder”, to the surprisingly not-bad collaboration with Diamond on “Ice Cream”, Freeway handles the instrumentals thrown his way with relative ease. It still may not sit well with fans of his older music, but it’s an interesting listen to say the least. Of course, Free has those “pure” Hip-Hop cuts laced throughout as well; “Beards R Us” is essentially a posse cut where he gets lyrical with Jakk Frost, Malik B, and Tana Da Beast, while “Real Sh*t” has him teaming with Young Chris to exchange bars.
There are several other notables that could be mentioned as well (such as “Master of Ceremony” and the title track, which features a genuine narrative from Mama Jones), but the bottom line never changes; Freeway’s dependable when it comes to dropping good music that his fans can enjoy. Although it may not appeal to some, and the content here isn’t exactly the most original topics you’ll hear this year, Freedom Of Speech is a good listen from start to finish, but more so for Philly Freezer fans that are used to seeing his hustle reflected through music outputs.
That quote at the top makes all the sense in the world when you apply it to Free.
Rating: 7.5 / 10