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Freeway / Jake One - 'Stimulus Package' (Rhymesayers)

Freeway / Jake One - 'Stimulus Package'

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Freeway & Jake One - Stimulus Package

Freeway & Jake One - Stimulus Package

© Rhymesayers
I don't usually condone violence, but if anyone had told me that Freeway would be the only R.O.C. castaway still standing tall six years after the split, I would've probably slapped them. Free has weathered the storm perfectly, having dropped two quality albums. One of them was even co-produced by 50 Cent and Jay-Z. Not too shabby for an artist who was once considered too raw, too green, too odd.

A Passionate MC

Freeway's gruff voice makes him sound like his windpipe has been partially obstructed by a piece of steak. It's immediately compelling. But his voice is also his undoing, as it becomes unbearable over the course of an album. Then there's that beard that looks like it could grow extensions and engulf him in his sleep. Look past Free's unique attributes, though, and what remains is one of the most passionate MCs Philly has ever produced. This is even more evident on Stimulus Package, Freeway's collaborative album with Rhymesayers beat maestro Jake One.

Coming of Age

The title may have been inspired by President Obama's economic recovery act, but Stimulus Package shares its sonic resemblance with Jay-Z's Blueprint. Like Jay, Free pulls back the curtain and invites the listener to partake in his battles and victories.

And like Jay, he occasionally exercises his right to be cocky. While the occasional arrogance is justified, it doesn't make Free interesting, especially since his howl isn't. Unlike Jay, who insists that the sound of his voice alone is a hit, Free's voice isn't built for radio. But that doesn't stop ex-State Property soldier from trying. On "Follow My Moves," for example, he teams up with Cash Money honcho Birdman for an adventure in southern bounce. Surprisingly, Free sounds comfortable here. The song is instantly enhanced by mentally inserting Lil Wayne's vocals where Birdman's should be.

"One Foot In," as the name implies, is the requisite track about how you're blowing up but still loyal to the hood. This is a horrible concept, but it's mandated in every rapper's contract. "Microphone Killa" is Freeway at his fiercest: "Used to sling hard, bring the neighbors out/Now I throw yard parties, bring the neighbors out/ Turntables out"

The Bottom Line on 'Stimulus Package'

Stimulus Package is unpretentious hip-hop, stacked with soul samples, dizzying rhymes, and laudable guest features. But it's the magnetic production of Jake One that astounds throughout. Jake's mission on Stimulus Package is clear: magnify Free's strengths and mask his flaws as much as possible. He succeeds for the most part. Urrlly!

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