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Review: Freeway & Jake One - The Stimulus Package

(Released February 2010)

When word got around that Freeway was going to basically
re-emerge with a new album late in 2009, the jokes began.
Freeway? Aint that the dude who went full out Islam? Did he
lose that nasal drip in his voice?
Freeway has had his share
of ups and downs as an MC. The ‘Philly Freezer’ who rocked
a full beard way before Rick Ross got his 22nd tat and his first
verses had been established with his first appearance on the
classic Roc-A-Fella jam ‘Roc The Mic’. The problem for Beanie
Siegel’s main man was consistency. He had two albums,
Philadelphia Freeway and Free At Last which got mixed reviews
across the board. Getting dusted like a kitchen sideboard by
fellow Philly MC Cassidy on air in a freestyle battle didn’t help
matters either. Then Freeway got conflicted between being a
Muslim and being an MC who spoke about pushing weight and
letting off shots. All of which led some to question whether he
really could rise to meet his potential.

The Stimulus Package is an eye-opener on many levels. First off,
this got a great deal of acclaim despite the fact that it was an
independent release on the Rhymesayers label. Secondly, the
pairing of Jake One and Freeway is quite possibly one of hip-hop’s
best new collaborations. The Seattle producer had already turned
heads with his first release, White Van Music as well as doing
De La Soul’s ‘Rock Co.Kane Flow’, but this album made a LOT of
heads spin like Linda Blair. As for Freeway, this is the album that
has made him not only relevant again, but has possibly given us
a lot at how much more he can grow. The same flow is there, but
more determined with enough steel in it for a few switchblades.
Each verse he spits on this album carries serious wisdom and
experience…and you connect to it that much more.

The album is smooth even with all of the asphalt-like grittiness of
Jake One’s production. It’s a throwback to those days when hip-hop
did nothing but churn out albums made for cruising the block in
the whip no matter the season. That gets hammered home on the
introduction where Freeway and Beanie go in on a beat that would
have made TSOP proud. On his own, Freeway lyrically slaughters
tracks. “Know What I Mean” deserves to be mentioned in the same
breath as Biggie’s ‘Ten Crack Commandments’ for its matter-of-fact
do’s and don’ts of the game delivered in a manner so slick you’d
think you were right there on the corner with him. “The Product” is
a chilling track, full of haunting piano licks and Free’s vigorous
wordplay where he takes on the properties of drugs. Another
outstanding element of this album are the collaborations. Each one
adds luster, from Bun B’s twang on ‘Sho Nuff’ to Raekwon’s vicious
verse on ‘One Thing’. The Stimulus Package and its success proves
that for 2010, Freeway finally had the last laugh.

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