In August of 2007, I conducted my very first interview with a major recording artist. It was with the then Roc-a-Fella artist Freeway and it took place at the Baymont Inn Hotel in Flint, MI around 3 a.m.
But wait, let me explain…
My business partner at the time/cousin and I followed him all night just to catch a few words or maybe a picture for the humble beginnings of our online/print magazine, Urban Swag Magazine, which never got off the ground but gotdammit, we tried.
When we finally caught up with him and his crew, it was late, 3:05 AM to be exact and Freeway was fresh off rocking a show at Club What’s Next? in our small little city of Flint. I was able to take a few pics with him at the show before he hit the stage. It was kind of weird because we were at the bar that was inconveniently located in the club’s attic that they tried to pass off as the second floor. In this dark and dank attic space, the club provided a handful of C-list strippers who came to do their thing for Roc-a-Fella’s finest that night. I remember thinking “so, this is what the industry is like?” I seriously didn’t know any better but I kept my mind open and my mouth closed.
After the show, Freeway and his entourage exited the building, and he personally told me and my cousin to swing by the hotel to get a full interview. Even though I never interviewed anyone in my whole-ass life, I felt like he wasn’t serious. Being overprotected as hell as a kid, I was naturally skeptical of pretty much everything and everyone. I told my cousin to just call it a night and go home. She confidently stated that this moment would be the closest we’d ever get to Jay-Z and for some odd reason, I believed her ass. I agreed to go to the hotel and we proceeded to follow Freeway’s fleet of entourage cars to the Baymont Inn.
Once we got to the hotel, his manager okay’d the interview and we waited for Free to come down from his hotel room. I began to set up my tiny voice recorder I got for the low at Sam’s Club that day and right on cue, the lobby’s elevator door opened up and Freeway stepped out, making his way toward me. I felt a knot in my throat while scanning my brain for something cool to say. He introduced himself first like I didn’t know who he was from that small-ass club attic experience then extended his hand and offered me some Starburst gummie candy. That playful gesture alone broke the ice and made everyone present in the lobby laugh.
My nervousness subsided and I suddenly snapped into reality, realizing that celebrities are people just like me. From that point on, the energetic yet down-to-earth Freeway cracked jokes and played around with my cousin and I in between answering questions about his highly-anticipated album, Free At Last, that would be dropping soon.
I remember a couple of people in his entourage pulling out cameras and cellphones to record and take pictures of me interviewing him. It was wild because, although it was my very first interview, it felt like that moment was also big for him as well. Like he was still excited that people wanted to get a piece of his mind and promote his art, his craft, his passion. That moment was very deep for me and I’ll always cherish it because it was the starting point for my budding music journalism career.
So without further ado, here’s my milestone of an interview with the former R.O.C spitta Freeway. With the exclusion of countless “holla atcha boys” and “ya know what I’m sayin’s”, Free explains the hiatus between albums, religious conflict within himself, and his expectations for his then upcoming 2007 album, Free At Last. Like the album itself, the interview was well worth the wait.
Tia The Writer: Just to make things clear, what label are you officially signed to?
Freeway: I’m signed to Roc-a-fella but my album is from both Roc-a-fella and G-Unit executive producers Jay-Z and 50 Cent. The album is Free At Last dropping October 9, 2007. It’s going down!
TTW: So Free At Last was really supposed to be released around July 4th, 2006, has this extended time been a blessing or a curse?
Freeway: It’s politics as usual, shit was fucked up, the whole break up with Jay and Dame and everything so it took time for us to get everything together so now were focused on the album.
TTW: Since “Big Spender” is a certified banger, what’s your prediction for how well this album is going to do?
Freeway: Well, “Big Spender” was originally a street leaker but it’s crazy, so we’re shooting a video for that and we’re just grinding, doing our thing. The rest of the album is crazy so just work with me. It’s going down!
(Freeway then stops the interview and leans over to lick the side of my face and whispers something I can’t repeat aloud as everyone laughs and I try to cordially get back to the interview. That would be the first of many times that entertainers would try me. Being professional, I kept it moving.)
TTW: How was it working with Jay-Z and 50 Cent as they both executive produced the album?
Freeway: It was all good, 50 brings a lot of excitement to the table, Jay does too. I’ve been fucking with Jay so I’m used to that. Fucking with 50 was a beautiful thing so we grindin’, we here, Free At Last, Roc-tober 9th, It’s going down!
TTW: While working on the album, did you feel like you had to top Philadelphia Freeway or did you try to go another direction?
Freeway: Well of course when anybody progresses and moves forward, you try to be better than the last thing you did. So my first album, Philadelphia Freeway, of course it was a head banger, it was a classic, it went gold and everything, but my expectations for the album, Free At Last, should exceed the expectations that I had for Philadelphia Freeway because actually, I’ve seen more things, I’ve been more places, I got more shit to talk about and I’m grindin’.
TTW: Being a Muslim, does your religion often conflict with your career?
Freeway: Actually, it does because me being Muslim, you’re not even supposed to rap, you’re not even supposed to do things that have to do with music because it takes away the remembrance of the law. The time I’m taking to mix songs, I could be reading the Koran, and people listening to my songs, they could be reading the Koran and studying. That’s something I have to go through with God. Like the song “What We Do,” God knows my intentions. I’m a good Muslim but I gotta do what I gotta do to feed my family.
TTW: Last question. I know everybody’s asked but I have to ask to make it official in Urban Swag Magazine: You and Beanie Sigel still cool?
Freeway: I just was on the phone with Beans, of course I’m cool with Beans. He introduced me to the game like Spanish Jose introduced Jay to cain. –Tia The Writer