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When the rapper born Leslie Pridgen named himself Freeway, he couldn’t have come up with a better moniker. Ever since the Philadelphia native burst onto the national rap scene in 2000 with his verse on Jay Z’s “1-900-Hustler,” Freeway has carved out his own lane, using his unique voice and skill set to set him apart from not only his fellow State Property members that he came in the game with, but the entire rap game period.

His first album, 2003’s Philadelphia Freeway went gold and he appeared to be on his way to a swift rise to the top. But, after his Roc-A-Fella home split around 2005, Free found himself in label purgatory. But just like the song that blew him up suggested, he didn’t sit and wait for things to change, he got out and hustled.

Freeway is dope. Out of everybody in State Property, he had the most solid work ethic. Whether he has a new record out or not, he goes out and self-promotes. He’s always working, near or far. I’ll run into him in Cincinnatti or Copenhagen, Denmark. — Black Thought of The Roots

In the last 10 years he has released eight projects as both a solo artist and co-collaborator, keeping his name alive. But in 2015 he found himself in a position where he was a simply trying to stay alive.

Last September, Freeway was diagnosed with kidney failure and rushed to a hospital with treatment. The setback changed how he moves, but did not stop him completely. Now with his new album Free Will, the Philadelphia native feels that he has even more to fight for and prove, even with 16 years under his belt.

See what that means on the following pages.

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Photo: Instagram

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