His sophmore disc Free At Last was supposed to have been let loose earlier this summer, but a delayed LP never stopped Free from getting busy, y'know? The Philly MC hit Joe's Pub last night for a launch party celebrating the release of Ubisoft's And 1 Streetball game (Freeway has a track on the game's soundtrack, produced by Scram Jones using parquet squeaks for percussion), and he headlined the night's performances, which also featured new Roc signee Tru-Life and .38 Special, an artist being developed by Green Lantern.
We hadn't really heard of .38 Special before last night, and neither did most of the crowd at Joe's. Fortunately, .38 knew the deal, and kept his set to a short two songs, doing exactly what an opening artist should: get us marginally more hyped than we were before. His originals weren't too shabby, either - we'll now be checking for the full Green Lantern/.38 Special mixtape once it inevitably drops.
Tru-Life was up next, and while he didn't exactly live up to the "savior of NYC" mantle some have shouldered him with, dude's set was much better than expected. His Sinatra-sampling street hit "The New New York" sounded genuinely anthemic at max volume...until the instrumental cut out, and the 15-odd hypemen on stage with Tru started chanting "FUCK UP THE SOUNDMAN!" (sound familiar?)
Fortunately, soundboard problems were no problem at all to the man sometimes known as Leslie Pridgen. Freeway rhymes until he's out of breath anyway, so when the tracks kept stopping abruptly, Free just kicked his verses accapella in an awesome, tempo-disregarding wheeze until the next song could be cued up. Kicking off with "One For Peedi Crakk" and running through everything from "Flipside" to "Roc The Mic" to new single "Where You Been" to stone cold classic "What We Do" (AIN'T TALKIN BOUT CHICKEN AND GRAVY, MANG!), Philly's finest even managed to kick some music-less bars from white label fave "Night Shift" - and we certainly caught all the rap nerds in the building who caught that along with us. EARLY!