After standout features on Beanie Sigel`s “Think It`s
For over a decade, Freeway has been Philadelphia's mouthpiece in chronicling the city's balance of blue-collar work ethics and vigilant
street-corner credos within one of the world's most diverse and storied backdrops. Freezer, born Leslie Pridgen, carries that same range
of character and experience, a Muslim Man in America with a unique story to tell. With ties to and years lived in North and West Philadelphia,
Freeway emerged in the late '90s, both as a street figure and as a battle-tested block rapper, part of both Ice City and the would-be stars
of State Property.
The local favorite was mentored under the careful and critical eye of Beanie Sigel, who helped wave the S.P. flag in the mainstream. A distinct
voice and energy within his group, Free would earn the highly-coveted endorsement of Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Jay-Z at a Las Vegas
boxing match. An on the spot audition landed Freeway an integral role in one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful
label rosters in music history.
After standout features on Beanie Sigel’s “Think It’s A Game” and Jay-Z’s “1-900-HUSTLER” posse cut, Free was a critical role-player within
State Property’s debut album, namely on Philadelphia classic “Roc Da Mic.” This fanfare and intrigue gave the raspy-voiced sensation the
go-ahead on release 2003's Philadelphia Freeway, a literal gold standard in image-driven street rap, with a soulful message and sound.
The album, featuring involvement from Kanye West, Just Blaze and Mariah Carey yielded the timeless outcry, “What We Do” with Free’s
mentors Jay and Beans.
Like his label-mates, Freeway’s speed was derailed in the turmoil within his label. With a sophomore State Property project released, Free
At Last, the emcee’s second solo did not arrive until late 2007. With extensive involvement from friend 50 Cent, as well as Jay-Z, the album
maintained Free’s reputation for quality and consistency. One of the producers of street single “It’s Over,” Jake One, developed a powerful
relationship with his emcee counterpart.
With Jay-Z having left his president’s post at Def Jam, Freeway defined 2009 with his Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. Always conscious of
religious and social values in his lyrics, the block-embraced and streets-raised Free partnered with independent stalwart Rhymesayers
Entertainment. There, he and Jake One released the cleverly-packaged Stimulus Package. At the height of the U.S. recession, the rapper
associated with the Roc wealth shed his chains for personal revelations in showing his range, all backed by colorfully dusty Jake One tracks.
After three years of being a dedicated father, work within his community, and touring Freeway prepares his fourth studio album, Diamond
In The Ruff. Reunited with the sounds of Just Blaze, Bink!, as well as a heavy hand from Jake, the veteran still finds ways to freshen his message
with morality, intelligence and a the pulse of the streets. Ten years removed from the wave of initial success, Freeway still carries that diamond
and maintains the legacy of one of Hip Hop’s most distinct voices.
DIAMOND IN THE RUFF
Freeway's long-awaited fourth new album, Diamond
in the Ruff, finally has a release date, November 27th
2012. The official lead single "Jungle" is making crazy
noise with it’s heavy drum induced track with Free’s
Freedom Of Speech. The 16-track tape, hosted
by famed DJ and producer Don Cannon, is
available for free download via the Karmaloop
Largely, Freedom Of Speech is a solo effort for
Freeway. Where guests do show up –Young
Chris on "Real Shit;" Jakk Frost and Malik B on
"Beards R' Us" – it's often a Philly affair, with each
of the guests complimenting Free's unorthodox,
patented flow. For production, Freeway enlisted
Jake One, who Free worked with for his 2010
album Stimulus Package, along with a number
of first-time collaborators, including Cardiak,
Thelonius Martin, and upstart producer B. Jones,
who handles production on four of the tape's 16
For Freedom Of Speech, Freeway partnered with
streetwear clothing line Rocksmith Tokyo and
fashionretailer and culture outlet Karmaloop, the
latter of which also partnered with Freeway to
shoot a number of videos from the mixtape.
For Freeway, the partnership was a natural decision,
given his long-standing relationships with the
companies. Karmaloop is equally excited to take
part in the release of Freedom Of Speech, "These
are two brands that Karmaloop stands behind and
believes in. Free has always supported Karmaloop
so it was a no-brainer – he's part of the Karmaloop
fam.” says Tom Keough, Special Projects Coordinator
A Quote From Jay Z’s Book Decoded
I loved talking about the stories behind the songs, but as we were
listening to the songs that night I found myself drawn over and over
again to the wordsthe metaphors and rhythms and structural choices,
not the gossip behind the songs. It was the little things that got me
nodding my head, lost in the songs like I was hearing them for the first
time. For instance, at one point Guru cued up “What We Do,” a song by
Freeway with me and Beanie Sigel on it, and set it rumbling
through the studio.
In an instant, I was lost in Freeway’s remarkable flow. Do yourself a favor
and listen to the first verse of that song, where Free ends every bar with
some variation of the word “up” or “down.” It’s a simple thing, but the flow
it creates is mesmerizing.I was still in the studio, but I was gone. That, I
thought, is what an MC in the zone can do—turn language as simple as
“up” and “down” into a magic spell.