Album Review — 19 May 2009

freeway

By Odeisel

In wars, sometimes you have what’s called collateral damage.  Yes the enemy is defeated, but unfortunately you blew up four hospitals and three schools in order to win. In the war between Jay-z and Dame, Freeway was perhaps the most tragic item of collateral damage in that entire fiasco.

Lost in this war of egos was the guy with many of the hottest Roc-A-Fella singles (“What We Do” “Rock The Mic” “Flipside”) and probably the most relentless flow on their entire label. Suffice to say the diamond has a lot less bling without the Freeway facet.

In 2009, we find Freeway delivering Philadelphia Freeway 2, not on DefJam or Roc Nation, but via iTunes on indie label Real Talk. On such a label you would think that it would mean subpar production but this is a good sounding album.  The issue however comes in that this album wasn’t even leaked. It even caught Hip-Hop message boards by surprise.  Hopefully that bodes well for his sales

The album opens at a feverish pace with “Finally Free.” The track takes full advantage of Freeway’s rapid-fire delivery, where he hugs the rhythm of the track, at times with no regard to whether he actually rhymes. Classic Freeway.

On the downside, there is the corny and unimaginative “Gotz 2 Be The Bomb,” in which the “Bin Laden of this rap game” (yes you read correctly) drops a ton of bomb related rhymes that ironically add up to a dud of a song.

There are more than a few sterling tracks on this album. The Lox’ Sheek Louch shows up to body “Keep Your Hands Up” with strongly-delivered Yonkers toughness. “Murder Music” is another heater which features a punishing Freeway going free-form over a Dr. Dre-like synth heavy beat.

The album takes an interesting turn when it begins to take on a West Coast feel. This ride begins with “Crack Music.” “Streets Won’t Miss’em” and “The Nation” which is an interlude from West Coast cult classic movie Menace To Society further that feel. The cherry on top, or loc, as it were, is “It’s a Good Day” where Free even acknowledges that it’s an East Coast version of the Ice Cube classic.

Where this album does misstep is when it slows down.  During songs like “Around The World,” the slow, dull pace takes away Freeway’s biggest weapon: his relentless aggression.  When he slows down, his rhymes become more pedestrian and less impressive than when delivered at breakneck speed.

The album ends on a somber note with Free shouting out a Roc that has crumbled and the State Property without a home. It just reminds you of how good they were together and how industry bull ruined it and sidetracked Freeway’s career.

All in all, Philadelphia Freeway 2 is a very listenable collection of songs. Where it fails as a unit is poor album construction.  The fast songs are too few and far between and the sequencing does not lend well to continuity, aside from the West Coast sounding stretch.  Ultimately, this is where being on an indie has hurt this album.  Taken alone, each song can be considered above average fodder, but it is decidedly lesser than the sum of its parts.

 

black-thumbs-upblack-thumbs-upblack-thumbs-upblack-thumbshalf Out  Of  5

 

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