Review Summary: Want over-passionate crack rap with grueling/polished street beats? Sure, why not?
The classic producer/rapper set-up has been around since the beginning of rap. It seems much more real for two guys making music than it does for one guy and an army of producers, so it makes sense why rappers would create such collaboration. Eric B. & Rakim, EPMD, and Gang Starr are all classic rap groups that have only two members and thrive off of that natural turntable and a microphone sound. Jake One & Freeway attempt to re-create such a chemistry on The Stimulus Package
, and while Jake One creates smooth crime music for Freeway to roar over, he forgets that Freeway’s biggest talents lay on making raps about things he believes in, rather than generic coke raps that run amok on this collaborative effort.
I mean, Freeway still sounds aggressively passionate over these slick crime mob soundtracks. Jake One tailors his style for Freeway, giving his drums an extra kick, making everything just a bit more passionate, and Freeway jells over great. However, Freeway sounds much more comfortable bearing his soul or rapping about the roc than he does selling rocks. He has a bruised soul, and he wants to bear it for the world, but instead Jake One’s soundtrack almost seemingly requires genericism from Freeway. Freeway is still enjoyable here, but his incessant reference to past events without reminiscing, and by the numbers coke raps gets a bit tired here lyrically. In spite of that, his passionate delivery and occasionally well-written punchlines make The Stimulus Package
an entertaining effort on the rap side of things.
Freeway’s moderate state of mind, sticking to the same, allows Jake One to explore his range. Instead of the stuffy horn anthems that he got stuck doing for Freeway earlier on; he’s allowed his chance to explore his range. The shape-shifting string inter-twined soul of “Never Gonna Change” allows for experimentation from Freeway in his delivery and flow, which makes it all the more interesting. The 70s mob organ anthem “Know What I Mean” grooves with its sparsely placed bass lines, lit with the fire of an organically weaved in soul sample. Most disappointingly all, the video game synthesizers “Follow My Moves” intertwine with sweet 70s guitar riffs in the chorus, and absolutely rules inspite of generic Freeway and generic Birdman.
The best overall moments of the album when Jake One or Freeway agrees upon something to write and make other than crack raps. “Sho’Nuff” agrees upon the syrupy piano loops and grooves inspired by the productions of Pimp C, and allow Bun B and Freeway to absolutely rip the track to shreds. “Free People” emphasizes why listeners got into Freeway in the first place, his ballads make use of his usually obtrusive voice and turn it into an absurd strength. The closing moments of “Stimulus Outro” feature the sweet chamber orchestrations meshed with echoing soul and Freeway’s street tales at their soulful finest.
The Stimulus Package
, like all Freeway albums, doesn’t emphasize his best strengths, and its weakest tracks are easy to point out just from the track list. However, because of Jake One’s consistency behind the boards and Freeway’s riveting voice and flow, this album sounds a bit nicer than most Freeway albums, sounding more cohesive and smooth flowing. Crack fiends get ready, another album of your trials and tribulations for you to hear!