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Unofficial Guide to South By Southwest 2015 has ended
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11,217 official + unofficial events during SXSW
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avatar for FREEWAY

FREEWAY

For over a decade, Freeway has been Philadelphia's mouthpiece in chronicling the city's balance of blue-collar work ethics and vigilant street-corner credos within one of the world's most diverse and storied backdrops. Freezer, born Leslie Pridgen, carries that same range of character and experience, a Muslim Man in America with a unique story to tell. With ties to and years lived in North and West Philadelphia, Freeway emerged in the late '90s, both as a street figure and as a battle-tested block rapper, part of both Ice City and the would-be stars of State Property.

The local favorite was mentored under the careful and critical eye of Beanie Sigel, who helped wave the S.P. Flag in the mainstream. A distinct voice and energy within his group, Free would earn the highly-coveted endorsement of Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Jay-Z at a Las Vegas boxing match. An on the spot audition landed Freeway an integral role in one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful label rosters in music history.

After standout features on Beanie Sigel’s “Think It’s A Game” and Jay-Z’s “1-900-HUSTLER” posse cut, Free was a critical role-player within State Property’s debut album, namely on Philadelphia classic “Roc Da Mic.” This fanfare and intrigue gave the raspy-voiced sensation the go-ahead on release 2003's Philadelphia Freeway, a literal gold standard in image-driven street rap, with a soulful message and sound. The album, featuring involvement from Kanye West, Just Blaze and Mariah Carey yielded the timeless outcry, “What We Do” with Free’s mentors Jay and Beans.

Like his label-mates, Freeway’s speed was derailed in the turmoil within his label. With a sophomore State Property project released, Free At Last, the emcee’s second solo did not arrive until late 2007. With extensive involvement from friend 50 Cent, as well as Jay-Z, the album maintained Free’s reputation for quality and consistency. One of the producers of street single “It’s Over,” Jake One, developed a powerful relationship with his emcee counterpart.

With Jay-Z having left his president’s post at Def Jam, Freeway defined 2009 with his Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. Always conscious of religious and social values in his lyrics, the block-embraced and streets-raised Free partnered with independent stalwart Rhymesayers Entertainment. There, he and Jake One released the cleverly-packaged Stimulus Package. At the height of the U.S. recession, the rapper associated with the Roc wealth shed his chains for personal revelations in showing his range, all backed by colorfully dusty Jake One tracks.

After three years of being a dedicated father, work within his community, and touring Freeway prepares his fourth studio album, Diamond In The Ruff. Reunited with the sounds of Just Blaze, Bink!, as well as a heavy hand from Jake, the veteran still finds ways to freshen his message with morality, intelligence and a the pulse of the streets. Ten years removed from the wave of initial success, Freeway still carries that diamond and maintains the legacy of one of Hip Hop’s most distinct voices.


My Bands Sessions

Saturday, March 21
 

1:25am CDT