Free at Last

Free at Last

by FreewayFreeway


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Almost five years after releasing a near-classic rap debut, Freeway finally gets his second shot, and there's some unsurprisingly frank talk about his surroundings not being identical. Since Philadelphia Freeway's early 2003 release, there was the Damon Dash/Jay-Z Roc-A-Fella rift, so Free addresses that, despite it being old news. He was, after all, caught in the middle and did not switch labels. Then there's "It's Over," which could be the first track to mention the producer not responsible for its beat; in fact, both Just Blaze (who produced ten Philadelphia Freeway tracks) and Kanye West (who chipped in with two) are saltily put on blast for either not getting back or being too busy. Throw in a deepened relationship with 50 "Somewhat Responsible for Mobb Deep's Blood Money" Cent, who replaces Dash's role as co-executive producer, as well as what could be perceived as an enthusiasm shortage on the part of the Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam family, and Free at Last has all the makings of a disappointment -- a release destined to slide off everyone's radar within a couple weeks of release. "Oh, yeah, Freeway eventually put out that second album...Free Again, or something?" The album is not the least bit deserving of that fate. Even with the amount of expectation-lowering context heavy on the mind, Free at Last sounds like a very strong follow-up. Apart from the 50 feature "Take It to the Top," with a light and frilly production that is absolutely the worst fit for Free's gruff and pop-unfriendly voice, there are no obvious points of weakness -- unless, of course, Free's lack of vocal versatility is something to gripe about. His "boa constrictor flow" can still be taxing (or even immediately off-putting to some ears) across the course of an album, and it is apparent that Nice & Smooth would consider him a lost cause for their MCing class, but his intelligible grunts and rasps are just as commanding and riveting as any other MC's arsenal. With a pilgrimage to Mecca also in his recent past, the dichotomy between his threat/boast-based rhymes and more reflective side is greater than it was on Philadelphia Freeway, and it isn't at the expense of toughness -- take, for instance, "I will squeeze and leave your spleen on the outside." He is a sharper, more vivid lyricist, and it can also be sensed that he has done everything in his power to make up for all that lost time. And it must be said that his as-common-as-ever exultations of "Early!" -- practically a tic at this point -- are more perplexing and amusing than ever.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/20/2007
Label: Roc-A-Fella
UPC: 0602498826010
catalogNumber: 000485302
Rank: 199896

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Freeway   Primary Artist
Jeff Bass   Bass
Jay-Z   Vocals
Sherrod Barnes   Bass,Vocals
Vitamin D   scratching
Ryan West   Percussion,Harp,Keyboards
Johnnie "Smurf" Smith   Piano
Wendell "Pops" Sewell   Guitar
Damon Bennett   Flute

Technical Credits

John Turnbull   Composer
Doug Wilson   Engineer
Jay-Z   Executive Producer
Grease   Producer
Bink   Producer,Engineer
Ryan West   drum programming
Freeway   Executive Producer
Ivan "Orthodox" Barias   Producer,Engineer,Vocal Producer,Instrumentation
Carvin "Ransum" Haggins   Producer,Vocal Producer
Montez Roberts   Engineer
Chad Hamilton   Producer,Engineer
Ryan Press   Producer,Executive Producer
Shalik Berry   Executive Producer
Jake One   Producer
J.R. Rotem   Arranger,Producer,Instrumentation
Greg Ogan   Engineer
Gina Victoria   Engineer
Don Cannon   Producer
Teraike "Chris Styles" Crawford   Producer
Alex Haldi   Art Direction
Jason "Sire" Turnbull   Producer
Gimel "Young Guru" Keaton   Engineer

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