Review ·

Devout Muslim and G-Unit affiliate (I actually wrote that) Freeway teams with host Whoo Kid for this memorable if head-scratching reintroduction. Whoo Kid is something of a mixtape Diddy: He doesn't select beats or cut-up records, and he doesn't produce anything; as far as I can tell, his role is that of endorser. But the seal of approval everyone's been talking about is this 50 Cent executive-producer-union on Free's upcoming album, Free at Last, due July 25. It's an unlikely pairing (G-Unit and Freeway, not 50 and Jay), not because Freeway is undeserving of such co-signing, but because his previous album (2003's Philadelphia Freeway) came and went despite the strength of tracks such as "Life" and "Turn Out the Lights" and a great conscience-conflicted single, "What We Do."


Rep Yo' Click is Freeway flossing over colorful hustler beats and trying to balance the pull of the streets with the call of his deep-rooted religion (hence the beard, folks). His distinctive voice is still potent, stretching rubber-band syllables in "Somethin on the Wrist": "Four offshore accounts/ Two are from Swiss/ That's somethin' on the wriiisst/ For puttin' on the hits." Then a brief history lesson: "I hit the cover like blankets/ I pull rank on you fuckers/ It's Mr. '900-Hustler'/ Now grand openin'/ Grand closing." "Freezer Pimpin" sports the best beat (and the best title) and has Free at his more animated, singing off-key and hitting the brakes to illustrate his bare-throated delivery.


The Dirty South tracks show new direction. "Rep Yo' Click" is synth-boosted metallic-clang with a guest spot from Lil Jon that's surprisingly bearable. And both "Trap Boy," featuring Boyz N Da Hood's Jody Breeze, and "You's a Hoe," with Juvenile, make strides sonically, if not thematically. There's even a joint with Beans. Free at last? Sounds like it.


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Freeway Web site (streaming audio)

Whoo Kid Web site

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