19 February, 2010@11:02 pm
There’s two ways to go when your major label deal goes South and the entire industry is upside down. If you’re Freeway, you take the Bun B approach. Guest spots on almost every relevant album or mixtape, new tracks consistently hitting the web, and a label deal with one of the best independents in the game, at Rhymesayers.
It might not be 2001, but Freeway is out there hustlin’ like nothing’s changed. Being on Roc-A-Fella didn’t slow his initiative or output. On The Stimulus Package, he’s chosen a wise route of going all in with Jake One behind the boards on the whole album. From the first track on, he pulls in the occasional assist with Beanie Sigel on the funky blaxploitation intro groove. “Throw Your Hands Up” kicks off the album on a solid, hard hitting beat that only Freeway or M.O.P. could dominate.
The Stimulus Package is one of the rare full lengths that actually works as an album. The more one listens, the more solid cuts stand out, like “One Foot In”, where Freeway details is label experiences and career. “She Makes Me Feel Alright” could double for a Kanye production (circa the Roc-A-Fella days), with a soulful vocal backing and popping keyboards in the backdrop. “Know What I Mean” is like one of Jake One’s signature “Ice Cold”-esque beats, perfect for the Freezer’s lyrics.
The collaborative tracks also manage to fit in, without feeling forced. Young Chris murders “Microphone Killa” on arguably the album’s best beat, employing a mile-a-minute horn jam that could have come from Kool G Rap and DJ Polo. The always questionable Birdman even manages to fit in on the synth heavy “Follow My Moves”. Bun B contributes another always-solid verse on “Sho’ Nuff,” a funky piano and xylophone jam.
The Stim-Pack also ends on a solid soulful note. “Money”, “Free People” and “Stimulus Outro” are all top notch jams that evoke the Philly sound from the seventies, and Freeway – like Beanie Sigel – sounds perfect over them. Omilio Sparks straight up kills the vocal hook on “Money”, and “Stimulus Outro” is one of the rare closing songs that remains worth listenable time after time.
Ultimately, Freeway is major label bound with a new deal on Cash Money. He’s a survivor; major label or independent, he’s got a vision for his music. Wherever he ends up – down south, midwest, or the east coast – Freeway makes dope albums, not just singles.
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