Freeway: Free At Last

Philadelphia is quickly moving from being the City of Brotherly Love, to the last refuge of the prodigal child. As such, it produces emcees with a visual style that is griping and razor witted; mirroring the mentalities of those that inhabit it. Freeway knows this as personally as many others, but has the rare ability to convey this to listeners on a second album. The sophomore re-up is a fleeting opportunity for artists teetering on the edge of mainstream acceptance. Free At Last (Roc-A-Fella Records) provides this outlet, not only for a conflicted man, but for a troubled city that needs a herald for its reality.When Free first dropped in 2003 with Philadelphia Freeway, it was at the peak of the first Roc dynasty. Now that a new roster has emerged and some of the former members scattered, Free is left to essentially re-climb toward success. He starts this journey chronicling his entire career with "This Can't Be Real" featuring Floetry's Marsha Ambrosius. The slow thump of the kick and toms progress the trills of a jazz flute that would impress Ron Burgundy. The track provides a hometown foundation from which the rest of the album builds. Following up is "It's Over" produced by Virginia's Bink! Free makes a point to clean house and call out those who left him in the wake of progress. He guns at both Just Blaze and the limelight's darling Kanye with burning lines like, "Things just ain't the same for gangsters/ But I don't give a F**k/ I'm Back without a Just track/ I tried to reach out and work/ But he ain't chirp back." He makes no misconceptions about who he is in it for this time, and sets it up that everyone will get wise to the fact as well. "Roc-A-Fella Billionaires" boasts a lyrical give-and-go between Jay-Z and Free that is reminiscent of "You Got Me" but a more celebratory march, with the chant of Shirley Bassey belting though a simplistic track created by Dame Grease. "Take It To The Top" featuring co-executive producer 50 Cent and "Lights Get Low" featuring Rick Ross add to this albums high grade. The title track "Free At Last" is key to this album's identity. It allows Free to speak about who his music is, and what he's truly about over a low contemplative beat, completing the image of the album. Freeway snatches back what is rightfully his with a snarky smirk that has become commonplace in Philadelphia. It feels raw, but it sounds polished; a tell-tale sign of an emcee with something to say, waiting for the proper time to say it. That real vigor is what gives him true freedom.SOUNDCHECK:Freeway f/ Busta Rhymes & Jadakiss "Walk Wit Me"Freeway "It’s Over"