When it comes to the rap game, seldom do we see emcees develop an original look, an original sound and an original style. In a world of sampling, mimicking and straight swagger jacking, it’s always refreshing when we come across an artist that doesn’t remind us of anyone else. An artist who as soon as they utter a syllable you know exactly who it is and what to expect.
Philly which is universally known as a hotbed of spitters, is home to one rapper in-particular who has not only produced a solid body of work but has done so his way. Freeway came up during the height of the Philly rap scene in the early 2000’s and was a stand-out among some of the top guns in the industry. What else but his original sound could get us to look past the rap behemoths that were Jay & Beans and acknowledge his talents? Never mind the fact that he was on a roster full of lyrical assassins, Freeway was able to find his own lane on red hot label. Hits such as Flipside, Roc the Mic and of course his signature track What We Do cemented himself as a pillar in not only Philly’s rap community but the rap game as a whole. With four albums under his belt not including the five compilation albums he’s been heavily featured on, it wasn’t hard to tell this Philly emcee was hard at work.
For a while it seemed as though Free was far from finished but somewhere between the touring and the constant grind of putting time in the studio to fine tune his craft, he was ignoring one very important thing. His health. What Free describes simply as a time where he was “ripping and running,” the years of neglect finally caught up to him. Casually dismissed as fatigue from what Freeway thought was rigorous touring turned out to be much worse. Throughout his career Free faced many challenges but he was now going head-to-head with an opponent that inflicts more damage than a an elite rapper with a scorching hot 16. After a visit with his primary care physician, Free was diagnosed with kidney failure.
Now older, wiser and with a new lease on life, Freeway is not only looking to continue his musical legacy but now he has a new message he wants to get out. Get check-ups. That’s right. Sure it doesn’t sound as cool as a smooth metaphor about cruising in a foreign car or flossing with wads of cash but these materialistic items are useless if you’re not around to enjoy them.
As a catalyst to his message, Freeway teamed up with the National Kidney Foundation and created his own fundraising group appropriately called The Philly Freedom Fighters. Sure Freeway could’ve slipped into solitude and stayed off the radar until he was nursed back to health but instead he’s out in the public eye, participating in charity walks as well and organizing charity concerts.
His altered outlook isn’t the only thing new in Freeway’s life. With new management as well as a new label entitled The New Rothschilds, Free is still on a mission to produce original musical content for his fans. Just as Beans helped usher in Freeway into the spotlight, Free is paying it forward with a highly touted emcee named Scholito. Although outwardly humble like an apprentice studying under an accomplished craftsman, Scholito is poised to forge his own path in the rap game in due time. But for now the duo have their eyes set on their benefit concert “Freeway & Friends” Nov. 20th at the Trocadero. Proceeds from the show will to the National Kidney Foundation.
It does seem as of late that Freeway has been putting a ton of good karma into the atmosphere. Sure as a street rapper Freeway has insinuated negative actions in past songs but it seems Free has outgrown that stage. Yea, he’s going to continue to perform past hits but let it be known Freeway isn’t the same man from those early Roc days. One good indication of this evolution is his very own Instagram account. You’d think a rapper’s gram would be filled with scantly clad women, photos of obscene amounts of cash and illicit activity. As a pleasant surprise you’ll find tons of inspirational quotes and motivating videos. In fact one of his recent posts perfectly sums-up Freeway’s transition in life, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”