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Album review: Freeway, "The Stimulus Package"


By Allison Stewart

Philadelphia rapper Freeway has never been cuddly, never had the cartoon-y crossover appeal of, say, Rick Ross. A deposed Roc-A-Fella artist now gone indie, the former Beanie Sigel protege and sometime State Property member is gruff and imposing and so conspicuously bearded that when Eminem once explained, "I disappeared / I was hiding in Freeway's beard," it didn't even seem like he was exaggerating.

(Better at beats than words, after the jump.)

It's not exactly the stuff that the next Kanye West, or even the next Ross, is made of, but on "The Stimulus Package," his sometimes pretty great new disc, Freeway only occasionally sounds like he minds. Produced by longtime G-Unit knob-twirler Jake One, "Stimulus Package" features Freeway's usual spitfire raps co-mingled with liberal helpings of jazz and soul samples.

"Stimulus" toggles between effortlessly fine old-school Philly soul bangers ("She Makes Me Feel Alright," "Throw Your Hands Up") and lesser, flintier tracks such as the ostensibly lighthearted but powerfully awful Bun B collaboration "Sho' Nuff."

The track begins unpromisingly ("Who's bad? / I'm bad / I am Michael Jackson Puff Daddy bad") before deteriorating into a scatological rap that can't be printed, or even implied, in a family newspaper. Like much of the rest of "Stimulus Package," it furthers the impression that Freeway, historically more adept at beats than lyrics, has little to say.
Anyone expecting "Stimulus Package" to offer a searing examination of poverty should look elsewhere, too, because Freeway's main complaint is that people think he's really rich when he's only sort of rich. For such a perpetual star-in-waiting as Freeway, that might be the most grievous insult of all.

Recommended Tracks: "She Makes Me Feel Alright," "Throw Your Hands Up"

By David Malitz  |  February 16, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Quick spins  | Tags: Freeway  
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