FEATURE: Freeway, Last Man Standing
Aftershocks from the earthquake that was the break-up of the almighty Roc-a-Fella Records are still reverberating throughout hip-hop. Just ask Beanie Sigel, who a week and a half ago took out his frustration towards Jay-Z in public, unleashing a vicious diss track called “What You Talking Bout.” But not all former Roc artists feel the same way. In fact, Freeway, who still refers to Jay as the “big homie,” says there’s no love lost. Still, everything isn’t exactly smooth sailing for Philly Freezer.
Freeway recently found himself caught up in beef of his own involving the forthcoming release of The Streetz Is Mine, an album of new material RBC Records is set to put out. Although RBC representatives say the rapper approved the project, allegedly going so far as picking songs for the disc, Free refutes that claim saying he never sanctioned the LP’s release. Instead, all of his focus is on his Jake One-produced The Stimulus Package, which will be distributed by indie powerhouse Rhymesayers. XXLMag.com caught up with Freeway to chop it up about the ongoing sour grapes between former Roc-a-Fella artists, his forthcoming projects and rumors of a possible deal with Cash Money Records.
XXLMag.com: Being from Philly, one would imagine you and Beans are pretty close. How did his Jay-Z diss track affect your relationship with him and Jay?
Freeway: Oh, no, that's the big homie and it's still all love with Jay-Z. We still communicate. When I need him, I definitely can reach out and I know he will be there for me. Right now, I'm just trying to do my thing, show that I can do my thing on my own without him. But when I need him, I think the big homie will definitely be there.
XXLMag.com: How are you applying what you have learned from Roc's successful run to your current pursuits?
Freeway: You've got to work hard to get out of the game what you put into it. That's why I'm steady grindin’. I'm always in the studio, dropping stuff on the Internet, making my Internet presence felt. I'm just grindin’, man.
XXLMag.com: Now, there have been rumors about you signing to Cash Money already. Is there any truth to that?
Freeway: It's not official yet, but we're working it out, probably at the top of the year after we drop The Stimulus Package. The whole album is produced by Jake One and it's coming out on Rhymesayers Records. I got people from State Property on there, I got Beanie Sigel, I got Young Chris, Omilio Sparks, I got Baby from Cash Money on my second single, got Raekwon the Chef on that joint, and I got Bun B from UGK.
XXLMag.com: That's quite a few unexpected combinations. How did you connect with Baby collaboration come about?
Freeway: I was in Miami at the Louis [Vuitton] store and ran into Baby there. We exchanged information and when I came back down, we knocked a song out. Now we’re working out a deal with Cash Money.
XXLMag.com: So how does the whole Rhymesayers situation fall into play?
Freeway: I thought the Rhymesayers would be a great project because they reach a fan base I haven't attacked before. We had a bunch of shows, and we had the Soundset Festival in Minnesota, which attracted 20,000 fans. I killed that shit. They have good artists and me and Jake One work well together. I just thought it would be a good experience for me to try that. In the midst of me doing that, the Cash Money thing came about.
XXLMag.com: How did your relationship with Jake One start and turn into a full-length album?
Freeway: Actually, he was on my last album, Free At Last. I was really diggin’ his sound and after the album was done, he kept sending me music and we was working together. The stuff that was coming together was crazy, so we came up with the concept of doing The Stimulus Package album and made it happen.
XXLMag.com: A little while ago you put out some 30 songs within a month's span. How did you come up with that idea?
Freeway: It was called the Month of Madness. Shout out to Young Chris, because he did 31 verses in 31 days. Since me and State Property members always had a friendly competition, once he did that, I said, I might as well do 31 songs in 31 days. I'm in the studio all the time and I felt at that point in my career, I thought it was beneficial to let the people know what I'm working on and the quality of music that's coming out.
XXLMag.com: Can you clear up the situation with The Streetz Is Mine album that RBC is putting out?
Freeway: The Streetz Is Mine is not my album. I put a public service announcement out about that. That's not an official album, I don't got nothing to do with that joint. We put a cease and desist out on that joint, it won't get released. There's a whole bunch of bullshit going on behind that joint.
XXLMag.com: The PSA was also to promote your new mixtape, The Calm Before the Storm, right?
Freeway: The reason why I dropped that was because we actually pushed it back so we can go promote it at the same time as The Stimulus Package. Calm Before the Storm is just some joints I had laying around. I got nice features on there, Young Chris and Kurupt. It's a bunch of joints that nobody heard before. Producers from Philly, the Dictators, contributed beats.
XXLMag.com: How strong are your working and personal relationships with members of State Property now?
Freeway: We all family. Beans is on the album, Young Chris, Omilio Sparks. It's still all love. In the future, we'll definitely do another State Property album. We just got to find a nice situation for it and we'll make it happen. —Slav Kandyba