Consistency should really be another rap commandment in itself. Freeway, who has delivered solid projects like The Stimulus Package and Freedom of Speech, is prepping an album that represents more than just new music. Diamond in the Ruff is Free’s fourth solo LP, and he says it’s his most revealing piece of work on his life and career. With highlights like “Jungle,” “Numbers,” and his newest collaboration with Just Blaze, “Early,” Diamond in the Ruff stands tall as yet another solid effort from Philly Freezer. The former Jay-Z signee used to call himself the Roc-A-Fella pitbull, and with this album, Freeway proves he’s still got just as much bite years later. XXL spoke to Free about the making of Diamond in the Ruff, his upcoming project with Brother Ali, battle rapping, and who he’s been feeling in the Philly rap scene. —Eric Diep (@E_Diep)
XXL: Diamond in the Ruff was three years in the making. Are you happy with how it turned out?
Freeway: Yeah, I am happy about it. [There are] way more records that I wanted to make the album, but we couldn’t get the samples cleared and a bunch of different other things. Some of the records are dated too because I was sitting on them for so long. I might drop some of them on the Internet or something later on down. I’m definitely happy with the album. I don’t like everything I do, but I like the majority of stuff that I do. I definitely need somebody to come in and help me trim down the fat.
Why did you call the album Diamond in the Ruff?
My whole process behind Diamond in the Ruff is [defining] how my career is [similar] to a diamond. You know the process that the diamond has to go through. First you got to mine it and dig it out. Then you got to clean it off and polish it and shape it. And then finally you got a diamond that’s shining. I feel like that’s how my career has been. Not only my career, but my life. I’m from the streets. I come from not having nothing. I come from waiting for my dad to go to work and wearing his clothes to school and trying to get home back in time before he sees it. Taking care of my dad. Taking care of my mom. Buying my mom a house and trying to raise my kids and having my own. I feel as though Diamond in the Ruff is [the] perfect title in what I am going through in my life and in my career with the music.
Let’s talk about your first single, “Jungle.”
It’s produced by my man Incredible Stro. He’s a fairly new producer that I worked with. He has a great sound. He reminds me of what I would do with a Just Blaze or a Bink! or whatever but with his own twist to it. He’s African! You can tell because of them drums. You know, he got them hard-hitting drums or whatever. And it’s just me doing what I do. Basically, I dropped The Stimulus Package in 2010. I really loved that album. That album meant a lot to me, but a lot of my street fans couldn’t relate to where I went with that. With records like “Jungle,” I wanted to let my street fans know that I still do this. I just had to feed them, you know? I am a reality rapper, so I usually rap about how I feel or what is going on around me or things that I see so that’s how it come out. “Propane spitter/cocaine spitter, cocaine flipper/Get caught, no name no blame I will never Alpo niggas/Pay what I owe and never short-change niggas.” That’s real rap, you know?
READ ON TO FIND OUT ABOUT FREEWAY’S UPCOMING PROJECTS WITH JUST BLAZE, JAKE ONE AND BINK!