Freeway - Free At Last

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Freeway makes Free At Last one of the better albums you'll hear this year, particularly on the major level. Furthermore, he joins Roc-A-Fella big homies Jay and Kanye with standout albums in '07. What is that they say? The Roc is in the building...

Freeway's got
expectations. His 2003 debut Philadelphia
, anchored by memorable records like the Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel-featured
What We Do, garnered critic and fan love
for its spellbinding production and Free's
energetic, screechy rhymes. Years later, even though his storied Roc-A-Fella label has lost the thunder
it had in its heyday, debatable classics from franchise players Jay and Kanye West have raised the bar for subsequent releases. Forging a
new relationship with 50 Cent, Free At Last features executive
production from both 50 and Jay, two moguls with established track
records. Freeway, a Muslim, has also visited the Mecca
since his last disc, and has been quoted as saying that his decision to rap
directly conflicts with his religious beliefs. And with the leaked selection It's Over raising buzz with Free's admittance of zilch beats from Just Blaze and Kanye (who, together, produced 12 of Philadelphia Freeway's 16 tracks), he better know what he's doing. Fortunately, Freeway's sophomore effort answers everything in spades.

Four years after his debut, fans will be pleased to hear
that Freeway hasn't left his Roc roots. While Just and Kanye are
notably absent, their replacements shoulder the load surprisingly well.
Long-time Roc contributors Bink and Chad "Wes" Hamilton keep the dynasty's trademark sound intact, lacing
Freeway with harmonious,
sample-driven soundscapes. When They
features Bink utilizing
a stellar drum set, consistent wails and sparse horns, while the slept-on Hamilton blesses  Free
and a reinvigorated Scarface with
the musically-rich Baby Don't Do It.
The incredible opener This Can't Be Real
features Marsha Ambrosius crooning
the refrain and a soulful backdrop that employs melodic keys and flutes from
no-name Karma Productions. All that Jay and Free's side-by-side flossing on Roc-A-Fella
is missing is the Dame
Disco Dance (