Rappers have been rhyming about hustling, living in the ghetto and the perils of street life since the dawn of hip-hop. But what distinguishes Freeway, the newest star to rise from Roc-A-Fella’s rhyme family, which also includes ghetto superstars Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek, is his unique approach to tackling these subjects on his highly anticipated debut album, Philadelphia Freeway.

¬†Freeway neither boastfully brags about his days hustling on the crime-ridden street corners of his native North Philly, nor does he dogmatically preach at his listeners while lecturing them to live righteously. Instead, his lyrics are laced with ghetto-weary “been there, done that” sentiment that implies there is life beyond the block. Call it educated thuggery, if you will.

“I got a song on my album called ‘What We Do’ talkin’ about all the things that we do in the streets is wrong but, of course, there are reasons why we’re doing the wrong things that we do”, explains 23 year old Freeway. “That’s an example of the stuff on my album”, he continues. “It’s soulful and real-like, you can feel everything. I’m not just rhyming over beats like, I’ll shoot you and we can dance all night. It’s not like that, everything got a meaning.”
Packed with high octane beats produced by such in-demand track masters as Just Blaze, Bink, and Kanye West, along with Philly newcomers Black Keys & Miles Ruggedness Freeway crafted Philadelphia Freeway as if he were throwing out a lifeline to anyone who could relate to his tales from the gutter.

Another ingredient that enhances Freeway’s flavor is his unique vocal delivery. “He finds flow patterns inside the beat that just ain’t there somehow”, raves Young Guru, Roc-A-Fella’s in-house studio engineer. “Everybody else would do the same old simple flow, but Free flips it and he’s really saying something”, he continues. “It’s wordplay but it’s genius.”

Considering how Freeway came of age, its no wonder why he feels a sense of responsibility to lace his lyrics with a sense of right and wrong and a degree of morality. Unlike most MCs who falsely brag about living the life they rap about, Freeway truly did live the stories that he tells in his rhymes-and he suffered the consequences for his actions. “North Philly is low class,” he says, describing the setting of his adolescence. “Don’t nobody go to work in North Philly, everybody is on Section Eight, kids don’t go to school, and its easy to hustle down there because there’s a bunch of abandoned houses and lots, so its easy to get away form the cops, as long as you know the routes.”

In 1997, Freeway, who began his career as an MC by battling at the lunch tables in his high school cafeteria, met fellow Philly native Beanie Sigel while rapping onstage at a hometown nightclub. The two struggling MCs also made a pact that whoever got signed first would help get the other a record deal. True to his word, not long after Beanie Sigel was recruited into the ranks of Roc-a-Fella, Freeway says “he came back and got me.”

But in 2000, shortly after Freeway made his recording debut on “1-900-Hustler” from Jay-Z’s multi-platinum The Dynasty: Roc La Famillia CD, he paid the price for his bad behavior when he was arrested for dealing drugs while his Roc-A-Fella brethren filmed the gritty urban drama State Property, which was released by Lion’s Gate Films in early 2002. Thankfully, he chose rap and with the release of Philadelphia Freeway in early 2003, his future has never looked brighter. His second album Welcome to the Hood dropped in 2004.



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