Philadelphia, PA-based emcee Freeway is arguably best known for his stint as a Roc-A-Fella Records artist, his affiliation with Jay Z and Beanie Siegel, a member of hip-hop act State Property, as well as his commercially and critically successful 2003 debut effort Philadelphia Freeway, an effort that was certified gold after selling 500,000 units — thanks in part to his gruff and raspy vocal delivery, rhyming about his days hustling to survive in North Philadelphia with a world-weariness that frequently suggests a desire to be more, do more and see more than just the block. And as a result, much like Freddie Gibbs and a few others, that world-weariness grounds Freeway’s material in a profound and gritty realism that’s much needed within hip-hop as a whole — and in the case of Freeway comes from hard-fought personal experience.
Although he’s experienced label and creative issues that begun with the dissolution of Roc-A-Fella Records and State Property’s extended hiatus, due to Beanie Siegal’s conviction for federal weapons charges, Freeway has been extremely busy as he’s released three albums since then — 2007’s Free At Last, 2008’s White Van Music which had the North Philadelphia-based emcee collaborating with Jake One and Brother Ali and 2010’s The Stimulus Package which was a return to hip-hop basics, as Freeway exclusively collaborated with one producer to craft a cohesive creative vision. Up until recently, it had been some time since I had personally heard anything by Freeway. Granted, as a blogger covering music with an international focus, some things will kind of fall through the cracks; however, interestingly enough, the Philadelphia-based emcee’s latest single “Primates” is a collaboration with renowned Dutch producer Big Ape and it’s a swaggering headbanger of a track that has Freeway spitting fire over a looped and stuttering horn and string sample and tweeter and woofer rocking boom-bap beats and actual scratching from Sweden’s DJ Devastate. Of course the track is full of Freeway telling off wack emcees — reminding them that only is he dope, but that he’s probably their favorite rapper’s rapper as he uses a variety of cadences and flows and a creative sense of inner and outer wordplay throughout, while reminding listeners that not only is he still here and fiery as ever, but that real hip-hop ain’t dead either.
Directed by Ed Jansen, the recently released music video for “Primates” was shot in Amsterdam and features the emcee and his crew stomping around The Netherlands’ largest city, some live footage of Freeway performing in front of an incredibly enthusiastic crowd, and hanging in the studio with Big Ape.