Many moons have passed since the Roc-A-Fella Records family thundered through the industry, creating an avalanche on the charts with hit after hit. But like many empires the Roc has had its assets scattered to the reaches of the universe like robot lions. While the head still runs this town in all Black Lion everything, his right and left hand men languish in prison and relative obscurity respectively.
Some of the soldiers have gone on to forge their own kingdoms while others like Philly’s Freeway stay just close enough to castle to be invited to dinner from time to time. With his own project “Diamond In The Rough” coming out for the Holidays TUD saytwith the Philly native to talk about staying relevant, redoing rap battles and being Muslim in a country with an extreme bias for Christmas.
TUD: What’s good with you bro?
Freeway: Just gearing up to drop this album Diamond In The Rough. Real excited about it man and happy to be here 10 years later still doing it.
Where does this album rank to you as far as your catalog is concerned?
I think it’s a step above the last album. Only person not from Philly [on it] is Wale. The collaboration that meant something special to me was Musiq Soulchild. We went to school together. I used to see him walking up and down the streets singing and he’d see me laughing. (Laughs) And I got a chance to work with him, Vivian Green, Neef from the Young Gunz, Marsha Ambrosious…
Anything outside the music for you?
I got Freestyle Clothing, my site TeamEarly.com. I work with my brother who has a clothing line called Live To Be Free and I’m doing a lot of real estate. I got my Team Early label too.
Out of the crew you’ve been one of the most consistent carts after the breakup. What’s that been like for you?
I’m not gone be like “it’s a piece of cake,” it’s definitely hard work. But what I did after the whole Roc breakup was I just went back to what I’d normally done. Grinding, putting in work, beating the streets. Soon as the breakup happened, it probably took me a minute to shake it off and get myself together. But right after that I was right back to doing what I do.
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Battling has become a big deal. Specially between Cassidy and Meek. Ever thought about avenging your loss against Cassidy?
I’m still here; I’m still making great music, that’s what I’m about! I battled for years in the streets and I battled to get in the game. I’m happy with my choices.
I’ve heard different things from different people, but what kind of Roc reunion would you be open to at this point?
We’re actually doing a reunion show… me, Young Guns and Bleek at the Gramercy Theater in NY. A few more people will probably come through too.
Who else have you maintained close contact with?
Everybody. Only one I haven’t talked to in a long time is Dame… I talked to Biggs before he had to turn himself in, Talk to Jay a lot, everybody from SP. You know Beans just got locked up. Now contact is as good as it can be with the circumstances. So I’m good with everybody.
Beans was beefing with Jay and we all know how tight you are with Beans. But at the press conference for Made In America, you’re on stage with Jay. How does that work?
The thing with me is that I’m loyal. Throughout my whole career, I’ve never jumped the ranks. Beans brought me around and Jay was his man. I was cool with Jay but I would never overstep my boundaries. When Beans and Jay started beefing, I’m still cool with Beans and with Jay. I would be phony if break my relationship with him just because you’re not cool with him. So me and Jay been good.
Would you sign back to the Roc?
HELL YEAH! (Laughs) I’m enjoying being indie but I aint gone lie…
What are the chances of that happening?
It’s a possibility… I don’t know where he stands with it cause I don’t say nothing to him about it. He might be like “Damn, I was waiting for you to say something!” Or maybe not! I don’t know… I’m just happy we’re still cool right now. I’m doing my thing but if I throw him a vibe about making that move, I’m sure that’s a possibility.
You’ve never seem to have any beef with anyone. What do you attribute that to?
Really? Cause it didn’t really help Beans that much!
(Laughs) I apply Islam…
(Laughs) Just keeping it real… I apply it to myself the best that I can do. I mean that’s the only thing I can think of that I’m doing different from everybody else does around me. Everybody else from State Property, that’s the only thing I can point out that I do different. Maybe it’s the work ethic…
How difficult has it been to hold to those ways in this industry?
I’ll give you the prefect analogy. People that smoke weed will know what I’m talking about. When you smoke weed, you want it all the time. When you quit smoking weed you don’t think about it. It’s that simple.
But if someone was offering you weed all the time, I imagine it would be harder to leave alone, no?
It depends on how strong the individual is. I can only speak for my self; once I make my mind up to do something I’m going to work hard to do that. I pray five times a day everyday for years. I can’t remember the last time I missed a prayer. Even when I was getting high, even though it aint cool, I still prayed five time a day no matter what. Even if I don’t pray on time, say like a day like this where I’ve missed two prayers already but when I finished with the interviews I’m going to make them up.
Was it always like that?
There was a time when I got on and we were running around I wasn’t even thinking about praying. But I’m grown now so I can’t make those same mistakes. Don’t get it fucked up I’m not perfect! There’s shit that I ain’t supposed to do that I do but the most important thing to hold on to is your prayers.
Have you ever had folks try to get you to put Islam to the side?
Yeah, I just cut them off. Because this is what’s god for me, you don’t want what’s good for me so why would I deal with you?
Dude…how do you deal with Christmas??
I love Christmas! I’m still an Afro-American. I don’t celebrate but I still get the Christmas feeling and I still love the Christmas cartoons… that’s what I came up on!
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