Stimulus Package already boasts one of the coolest album packaging ever. But how does the music hold up? I rounded up your neighborhood brain trust to seek their wise counsel on Stimulus Package. Our deliberations are as follows:
Freeway fanbase awaken! To those lost Freezer-stans without a project to huddle around: this is it. (No MJ) I forecast an understandably unanimous vote that this is the best production he’s ever had; furthermore my personal view is that Stimulus is Freeway’s most directed lyrical presentation yet. The sound of the album blends the grittiness of Free’s words with the soulful sample-based production by Jake One that demand lyrical intensity. And Philly’s finest (er, Cassidy?) answers with meticulously crafted, narrative-based verses. Points to free for finally getting control of his rhyme-scheme agreement but the polish still has a way to go.
Philly Freeza has been in possession of one of the most unique and recognizable flows in hip-hop for years now, releasing good material but never really fulfilling the promise his distinct voice and delivery held. That changes now. With his seemingly insatiable mic hunger no longer scatter-shot but focused over soulful production by Jake One he delivers his most cohesive and best album to date. Jake One’s production style and Freeway’s vocals complement each other very well (as evidenced on earlier collaborations) but this doesn’t mean Jake creates auto-pilot-ready material for his partner in rhyme. For example, the changing drum patterns in ‘Never Gonna Change’ (reminiscent of his work on De La’s ‘Rock Co.Kane Flow’) would make a lesser MC falter but Freeway doesn’t miss a beat while still clearly delivering his story. In short, Freeway & Jake One demonstrate why the 1 MC, 1 producer formula was once a staple in HipHop and prove that it’s still relevant today in delivering what’s probably going to be one of the best rap albums of 2010. “Early!”
For a rapper I actually boycotted for a time after lame lines like “Two words – Freeway slightly retarded,” Philly Freezer has somewhat improved. Notice – “Somewhat.” I credit the ultra-talented Jake One at the helm here, ’cause Free really doesn’t say anything extremely memorable. His spastic flow and choppy verbiage is tamed a bit to where he can form complete thoughts, which lead to a few choice bangers like the Bun B-assisted “Sho Nuff.” But I became less interested the longer I listened, my attention fading as I dreamed of Rhymesayers liberating the instrumentals. Ultimately, it truly is hip-hop’s equivalent of a government stimulus – it should hold us over until something more substantial materializes.
Free has finally succeeded in crafting that definitive album that we always knew he was hiding inside his gigantic beard. Much of the credit goes to Jake One for pairing Free with lush soundscapes that perfectly complement his abrasive flow.
What comes across most on this album is Freeway’s focus on this project. Jake One absolutely held up his end of the deal and produced an album that is as sonically sound as it comes with his use of killer jazz/blues samples; Freeway’s voice over the beats doesn’t quite fit, and never really has, but his poise and focus shows when it comes to his lyrics. Solid listen, but more for the beats.