Loosies Unwrapped: Freeway

Posted on Mar 26th, 2013 in Interviews by Mr. Goldbar

On their Loosies contribution, “Dedicated,” Freeway and producer Chad “Wes” Hamilton harken back to the golden era of the early Aughts when Roc-A-Fella reigned supreme, thanks to gritty yet soulful hip-hop like their State Property collabs (there’s a reason Peedi shouts out “Chad…Chad Wes on track!”)

In this exclusive FG interview with writer Matthew Trammell, the duo reveal how “Dedicated” came together, reminisce on the early days (and current state) of the Roc, and discuss how they’ve reconciled their own legacies. Get Loosies now on iTunes and all digital services, as well as a limited-edition USB box set.

Chad: “Dedicated” came together naturally. Free reached out and said there’s people wondering what you’re doing and where you are. He knew I still had the studio and stuff. I do my music because I love it. I don’t do it as much to try to get a check or to get some type of promo or anything. When he reached out, it kind of inspired me to want my music back out there again.

Freeway: The difference between Chad and a regular person that makes beats is that he’s a producer. He puts his input on the actual song instead of just making the beat. He told me he had a crazy concept for the hook, so he started blending the Jamaican voices together, and it came out crazy. Me and Chad been working together for years and every time we get together we make magic, so it was definitely a good look.

C: Freeway is one of the few artists I’ve come across that have really embraced the culture, and respects it to the point that he understands how to live his life by it and not have to be that star in the spotlight every time. Everyone has their own personal followings and the people that really enjoy their music, besides the people that cling onto something of the moment. He’s embraced that community that says “We like Freeway, we like his music.” A lot of MCs haven’t embraced that. Everybody’s going to have their time. In our culture, people always want to hit that great status, as opposed to saying “I’ve already hit that great status. That’s what I set out to do, and that’s what I got.”

F: On “Dedicated” I was just letting people know I’m still dedicated to this music shit. I still show that craftsmanship, that lyricism. I been doing this for over ten years and I’m still consistent with the lyrics, the energy, the concepts. And it’s dedicated to my real niggas that still love this music.

C: Freeway came and said “We need something we can take back, that represents today but is from our time and how we did things.” When he told me that, I broke up that sample and said “oh man, this is one of those joints I would’ve killed on one of those State Property albums.” When I played the sample for Free, he was like “that’s it.” You know how you get a producer where you may have three rolling records in a row on the radio, and if you notice, he’s using the same fucking drums? I hate that shit. I can’t stand that shit. Every time I start a new track, I would never, ever go back to a sequence of drums I’ve used before. I never played it safe. A lot of A&Rs would say like, “I need that ‘Better Love.'” Cool, go make your own “Better Love!” That was Young Chris and Neef’s record. You can’t make that same “Better Love.” A lot of A&Rs didn’t understand that.

F: Chad started working with Sparks and the Young Gunz first. I did a record with the Young Gunz, and Chad’s manager Ryan at the time started managing me and we built a relationship, we’d be chilling all the time. He did a record on my album, Free At Last. He did the record with me and Scarface, “Baby Don’t Do It.” He did a bunch of records for State Property, and a lot of stuff that never even came out. The studio was always crazy, because you put seven different personalities together, not to mention Chad’s personality. It would always be something exciting, a different experience every time. It would always come out magic.

C: I did a lot of stuff for the Diplomats when they were over at the Roc. Even though they were at the Roc, they were always Dipset/Byrdgang. They were just using the Roc’s platform to continue the business they were doing. I learned a hell of a lot watching that motherfucker Jim Jones. He’s a fuckin’ hustler. That nigga, I fuck with Jim. Let me tell you how they used to be on it. The Roc would rent out maybe like two rooms for them to record. Jim Jones would set up a small recording area in the lounge, another recording one in another little corner of the lounge area, another recording area in the booth, and someone would be in the regular studio writing. They maximized every opportunity they had in the studio to get as much done as they could. It was amazing to me. It was inspiring watching Jim. This motherfucker was shooting State Property videos. You never shot a video before in your life, but somehow you figured out how to shoot this goddamn State Property videos. That motherfucker finds a way every time.

F: On the track I say “my team took a lot of losses, but we took a lot of risks,” I was referring to more street shit. Just being in the game, you take a lot of risks and you might encounter some loses and it’s a part of the game. It also spills over to the music business too. The whole Roc-A-Fella break-up, and me having people that were supposed to be family around me, and then not seeing them anymore or being able to work with them anymore. That’s definitely a huge loss. It’s a lot of ups and downs but the main thing to stay positive and push forward.

C: At the end of the day I respect Jay for what he’s done, because he’s kind of like the President. You look at something like that and think “I could be that, I could do that.” And that’s great for the Black community. As Philadelphians and as Blacks in general, we’re so forgiving. When we go hard for someone, if we’re your shooter, we’re your shooter. That’s where I feel like Jay took advantage of these kids. He didn’t teach them. Instead he says, “I showed you the blueprint.” Yeah, I get it Jay. But the blueprint would’ve worked for me, because I went to school and graduated. I get you. Not everybody can do that. Especially if you never experienced higher education. That’s why I’m cool. But some of the folks out here I was rocking with for a minute, they’re not really cool right now.

F: Everybody’s still here. We don’t work together as much as we should, but when it comes time for us to work together we get it done, no if ands or buts. You know, Beans is locked up, Oschino is locked up, so hopefully they’ll be home soon, hopefully we’ll be able to get a new State Prop record out. I just dropped my album last November so we still working that, and I’m working on some major collaborations coming up.