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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    An incomplete ‘Stimulus’

    Freeway & Jake One

    The Stimulus Package

    Rhymesayers

    Released Feb. 15, 2010

    Grade: B-

     

    Since last March, Freeway has been released by Def Jam, picked up by Rhymesayers, signed with Cash Money Records and started his own label. Working exclusively with producer Jake One (G-Unit, Rhymesayers), Freeway tries his hardest to please everyone associated with his career. The result is a valiant, but clearly compromised, concept album that never achieves the greatness it promises.

    Ironically, it’s called The Stimulus Package.

    The album’s largest flaw is that it could have a distinct voice, yet it refuses to choose one. You would think that having only one producer would allow for a focused sound, but Jake One’s beats contribute an erratic mood to the proceedings.

    “”Stimulus Intro”” has a Superfly-esque sound, with gorgeous piano and soulful horns — the perfect throwback for the modern economic crisis. Yet, this reference is all for naught, as the traditional blaxploitation sound does not return until the 13th track, “”Money.”” Instead, the duo follows the superb intro track with a hard Philly joint, “”Throw Your Hands Up.”” The track has bite, but Stimulus Package immediately sounds more like a mixtape than an album.

    Freeway’s delivery has improved to the point where he no longer sounds like Ghostface Killah. He’s raspier without losing his trademark higher pitch. This maturation allows for dynamic vocals to elevate the already complex flow of cuts like “”Never Gonna Change.”” His lyrics require more work, as “”Freekin The Beat”” features strange, bromantic lyrics about his respect for Jake One: “”It don’t get no better than you, my girl jealous of you.””

    Stimulus Package features eight guest vocalists, with questionable results. Bun B is dependably great on “”Sho’ Nuff”” — seriously, he is the hardest working guest rapper — and Young Chris improves the already exciting “”Microphone Killa.”” The other guests do not fare as well. Raekwon sounds completely spent from his past year of work on “”One Thing”” and Birdman shamelessly apes Weezy on “”Follow My Moves.””

    Despite the inconsistencies, Stimulus Package remains the year’s first worthwhile rap album. It’s worth a listen alone for “”Stimulus Outro,”” a five-minute-30-second opus to Freeway’s contemporaries and the streets he left behind. The beat is dynamic, Freeway’s flow is honest and painfully earnest — something missing from the rap community — and the song captures the fading glory of the rap star.

    Freeway may be a great rapper one day. But right now, he sounds more like an amalgamation of everyone he works for, so we don’t get the full package.

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