Freeway On Bouncing Back From Kidney Failure — And Making His Best Music To Date
Freeway is a hip-hop legend. As one of the OG MCs to rise from Philly, the State Property member has been working alongside Jay Z since the Roc-A-Fella days. Just last year, real name Leslie Pridgen released his new album Think Free via Hov’s new imprint, Roc Nation.
It was in 2015 at Philly’s Made in America festival when Freeway began to feel sick. One week later, he was in the hospital where doctors told him his kidneys were failing. Diagnosed with End-Stage Renal disease, he had to undergo emergency dialysis, a notion he wouldn’t wish upon his worst enemy.
Via the National Kidney Foundation, one in seven people in the United States are affected by kidney disease.
Now, Freeway has made it his mission to spread awareness in hopes of saving people the pain and suffering he had to endure. On that note, he was present at the 83 Futures booth at Complexcon to do just that.
AllHipHop: What is your relationship to Jay-Z/Roc Nation these days?
Freeway: Oh that’s family. I have a joint venture with Roc Nation, who I’m putting out my next project with. I just released my last project, Think Free, through Roc Nation in 2018. You know, it’s all family. I’m not managed by them, but I put my music out through Roc Nation.
AllHipHop: How about the rest of Roc?
Freeway: Everybody’s good. I’m good with everybody. It’s all love.
AllHipHop: How tense was it back in the day with the multiple beefs you all had with The Lox and others from New York?
Freeway: It was very intense. It was serious. I’m happy things worked out how they worked out because now Jadakiss, Styles, and Sheek are some of my good friends.
AllHipHop: Describe the atmosphere of the studio when you and Hov battled.
Freeway: It was just crazy energy. We were all talented so we all motivated each other. Then when we had beefs, it just pushed us to be greater. We wanted to be on top, so it was all good energy.
AllHipHop: What’s the status of State Property?
Freeway: We good. We got a State Property concert on December 22nd in Philadelphia at the Fillmore, it’s going to be crazy. We did it last year, it was sold out. This is the second annual State Property concert.
AllHipHop: How are you and Beanie Segal?
Freeway: We good, that’s my brother man. He just had a new baby girl, just had a new daughter. I’m happy for him, we’re in a good space right now.
AllHipHop: Can you talk about the legacy of Philly hip-hop and why more people have not come through recently like back in the day?
Freeway: We got a lot of people coming through. Of course, Meek Mill’s doing his thing. You got PnB Rock. You got Lil Uzi. We got a lot of people. We got some up and coming people that’s crazy. We got this girl named Rocky from Philly that’s crazy. We got G. Huff. We got Jay Huff that’s crazy. We got my young bull Kur that’s doing his thing in the city. We got a lot of up and coming people that’s talented, that’s getting a lot of notoriety in Philly.
AllHipHop: Musically, are you still passionate about rapping?
Freeway: Yeah most definitely, even more passionate now. I’ve been through a lot, I just got a brand new kidney. I got a new chance at life so I’m motivated. I’m making some of my best music. Having a new kidney motivated me to want to push harder, I feel like I got a second chance at life.
AllHipHop: What space do you occupy these days as an OG?
Freeway: People know what it is. I put a lot of work in, and it shows.
AllHipHop: How did the partnership between you & 83 Futures come about?
Freeway: Well they reached out to me. I love what they’re doing as far as encouraging people to be organ donors. Because I received my kidney from somebody that passed away and donated their organ. If it wasn’t for them, I’d probably still be on dialysis and still be stressed out. It’s definitely important for people. People need to know that just because you’re an organ donor, it doesn’t mean it’s a death sentence. Or if something happens to you, if you get into an accident or something, that they’re going to kill you. Because that’s not what it is.
AllHipHop: Congrats on the successful surgery. How was the recovery process? I heard you have to be on meds for the rest of your life.
Freeway: Thank you. Yeah, I have to take anti-rejection pills for the rest of my life. To tell you the truth, that was one of the things I was really worried about. Why I got to take this medicine for the rest of my life? But now, it’s just second nature to me. I don’t have a problem with it. It’s actually a blessing, it’s keeping me alive.
AllHipHop: How much did you pray or rely on God?
Freeway: Throughout the whole thing, all the way until now. I’m Muslim so when I found out, I was home. The doctor called me and told me I need to get to the emergency room, the first thing I did was go to the Masjed and pray. Asked God to help me with the situation.
AllHipHop: You’re a legendary rapper in the game, why is important for you to use your platform for the greater good?
Freeway: It’s definitely important because I know I have the platform. I know I have people that pay attention to me. As far as what I went through, I was running around with three of the leading risk factors for kidney failure and I was unaware of it. It’s second nature and my job to spread awareness and let people know. Because if I would have known, I would’ve taken better steps to take care of myself.
AllHipHop: What is your take on hip-hop nowadays? Who are you bumping?
Freeway: I mean, I love it. Everybody is doing their thing. Everybody is doing their version of hip-hop. Some of it is great, some of it is not, but it’s beautiful. It’s evolving.
AllHipHop: Who are you bumping?
Freeway: I listen to all kinds of stuff. I listen to my man Kur from Philly I was just telling you about, he just dropped a project that’s crazy. I listen to Lil Baby. I listen to DaBaby. I love Young Thug. I still listen to classic stuff like The Lox, Big, Jay, Nas, etc. It switches. It’s a variety of music I listen to.
AllHipHop: If you could bring back one song in 2019 of yours, what would it be?
Freeway: Probably “What We Do Is Wrong.” It’s my legendary record, the first time I had Jay on a record. People still love it to this day when I play it, just like the first day it came out.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let us know?
Freeway: I got new music coming real soon. It’s going to be incredible, lookout for it.