Free at Last | Roc-a-Fella
By RICHARD BECK  |  February 5, 2008
3.0 3.0 Stars
Nothing against Just Blaze! or Kanye West, whose flashy production anchored Freeway’s 2003 debut, Philadelphia Freeway, but the Philly native isn’t the popster they hoped he would be. No, his guttural, constricted delivery is too weird for that. On this follow-up disc, however, a more modest set of soul-heavy beats rules the day. Having graduated from knuckleheaded threats to a more hardened ghetto perspective that sometimes blossoms into tender complexity, Freeway sounds at home, particularly over the sweetly weeping keyboard loop that grounds “Reppin’ the Streets,” the album’s best track. When he isn’t feeling the pressure to make half-assed appeals to some special-interest subset of rap fandom — “Take It to the Top f. 50 Cent” for the ladies, “Spit That Shit” for the haters — Freeway lives in the pocket of a beat so confidently that you don’t even need to hear the beat to get it, as on “When They Remember,” where he raps, “Nobody but the prophet Mohammed Islamic scholars holla!”
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