Freeway- The Intermission

Freeway proves that perception is not reality; Reality is reality. He remains one of the very few MC’s who has been buried, hailed, buried again, and resurrected in the court of public opinion without ever changing his formula, or really doing anything but trying to improve. He was on a major label, dumped into underground status, and finally reborn as an important underground figure, but he never whined about it. He never changed what a Freeway record sounds like. These improvements and misimpressions are never as close to the surface as they are on his new mixtape, The Intermission.

Immediately after the intro, the Jimi Kendrix produced “Freezer” begins “I used to pledge allegiance to United States/with the pies and cakes/supply the base.” The dramatic pounding of the beat matches the flow, and finally Freeway turns hooks into silly celebrations the way Jay did with “H to the Izzo”. The music becomes a state of being, built to make you mobile, wreck your neck in the car, or exercise harder than you anticipated.  The tape has more than ten different producers for 17 songs, but Freeway eats every beat without sounding awkward. Songs like “My Girl” fail miserably, but that is easily explained once you understand Slim from 112 is on it.

Freeway has never been very invested in searching the depths of his soul for content, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t generate meaningful lyrics while spitting as ferociously as he can. On “Life of a Don”,  which should have been a clear cut braggadocio track, he bursts into “You don’t want to be sinning when you die cause/that’s how you stand in front of god.” He gives these lines with the same inflection he uses when he compares rappers to candy apples on “Da Feel”.  I wouldn’t recommend trying to unravel what Freeway means as an artist, just enjoy the flow.  Let the well-oiled production, and mostly apt guest appearances carry you. Freddie Gibbs, Fred the Godson and Trae the Truth help make “Block Music” a fantastic listen. “666” reunites the State Property crew- who sound so much better together than apart, even Beanie Seagal, who has managed to release some pretty unimpressive music, sounds good. It seems like Freeway can make most features work, Meyer Hawthorne and Wale…turns out wonderfully. Yo Gotti? Still manages to make sense. When recording a mixtape like this, positive energy can build to make everything possible. When listening to “N*#% in Africa” you begin to really think this beat should have been his in the first place. It’s actually a better version than the original Watch The Throne track.

The seventeenth song might be my favorite. The beat changes three different times, the first is airy with chanting behind him and is a natural fit. He eats it with lines like “We’re just trying to win/ trying not to sin/ but it’s hard, it’s like we gotta, especially if we ain’t got a cent.” The second is smoother, slower; something Snoop Dogg would have insulted women over, and he adapts to it. The third is that big bad southern beat everyone denies they love. It  would usually set most into a sing song that ruins their natural flow, but Freeway does whatever he wants “Bunch of Muslims, bunch of Christians in my damn home/ and we come together just to get that dough/ if nothing else.” It’s a great way to end the mixtape.

I don’t believe that MC= Great Thinker, or businessman, or hustler, or activist. It only means “Verbally Exciting”. In that respect, Freeway is great and if you expect more from him, than I think you’ve lost track of where the art came from. At the very least, you don’t prize the skill along with the content and that’s a mistake.

-Dan O.


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