The Underrated: Freeway- Philadelphia Freeway

By @TrueGodImmortal 

1. Free
2. What We Do 
3. All My Life
4. Flipside
5. On My Own 
6. We Get Around 
7. Don't Cross The Line 
8. Life 
9. Full Effect 
10. Turn Out The Lights(Freewest)
11. Victim of The Ghetto
12. You Don't Know (In The Ghetto)
13. Alright 
14. Hear The Song 
15. You Got Me
16. Line Em Up 

When Freeway first joined The Roc, admittedly I didn't see that much potential in him. I thought he was dope as a lyricist and had a different flow from the average rapper, yet I really didn't know how that would translate to an album. I was pleasantly surprised upon hearing the debut project from him "Philadelphia Freeway".

I had started to see growth in Free as I listened to the first State Property album and it fully manifested here from the intro "Free" backed by a soulful sample and vocals provided by Just Blaze to set the tone. Free does his thing on this intro, and the production here definitely is flawless. This was Just Blaze's prime as a producer to me, and he followed up the dope beat for the intro with "What We Do", the classic track featuring Beanie Sigel and Hov. The beat is somehow slightly triumphant and the verses are completely infectious as there is no hook here, just verses backed by the "even though what we do is wrong" sample. For this song to be a hit and become a mainstay on radio during the Nelly and Ja Rule hook heavy era is a testament to how classic it is. Each MC takes a different approach to their verse, which just adds to the greatness of the song itself. Free was knocking it out of the park early on.

One of the more underrated producers of that era, Bink!(did an article on him) supplies Free with an amazing track for "All My Life" and Free caps it off  perfectly by bringing in the hook God Nate Dogg to put the extra stamp on it. This album is back to back fire as the bumping "Flipside" follows next with Peedi Crakk featured on it. This was a single from the album and was always blasting out of cars during this time due to the knocking Just Blaze production. The smooth "We Get Around" with Snoop popping in is a pimp anthem, which was necessary during this time. The Faith Evans assisted "Don't Cross The Line" is carried by the Just Blaze production as Free spits his shit backed by soothing vocals from Faith.

Free brings in his State Prop brothers in as the Young Gunz appear on the banger "Full Effect", before Kanye pops in to produce the infectious "Turn Out The Lights", which is one of my favorite songs on the album. The epic "Victim Of The Ghetto" is elevated not only by production but by the hook assistance from the underrated Rell, who was the R&B king for The Roc at the time. Free took a moment to continue the narrative for the ghetto with his soulful "You Don't Know", which sees him paint gritty pictures and talk directly about what he saw growing up in Philly. Sparks from State Prop has a guest appearance and while he was never seen as a great lyricist, he definitely does his thing here and fits this track perfectly.

The soulful "Alright" produced by Just Blaze(who might be the true MVP of this album) features Allen Anthony on the hook and the track is pretty triumphant as well, almost hopeful in essence. Kanye reappears production wise on the extremely soulful "Hear The Song", where Free seems to spit his soul out over the amazing beat. I tend to look at "Hear The Song" as an outro type track here as it technically is, but Mariah Carey appears on one of two bonus tracks, the Just Blaze produced "You Got Me", which could have been a bigger hit due to the infectious sample on the hook. Jigga also appears on this track, although his vocals sound like he recorded somewhere different from the other two, he delivers a solid verse regardless.

The final track on the album, the aggressive and murderous "Line Em Up" is led by the organ driven production from Just Blaze as Young Chris makes an appearance on this song. There is no true weak song on this album, the production is classic and completely flawless and Free delivers with every verse. What more could you ask for in a solo debut album? Revisit this album and appreciate a classic. Cheers to The Roc.



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