FREEWAY – “What We Do”

Roc-a-fella’s post-ironic smash & grab raids on symphonic soul continue, subverting some musty old relic pinched from Just Blaze’s dad’s basement, one of those off-hand slices of doped ache pressed into gun-point service of a validation of playa 101 (cf. “Ain’t No Love”.) Free continues to strip the Ghostface emo-hop template of the cartoon obscurantism, and Jigga continues his transformation into late-period ODB (“faster than the Red Ghost/chasing ghosts with Pac-Man”…no wonder they signed old Dirt Dog.) Like the way they emphasize the sample, letting that “wrong-ong-ong-ong” loop over and over like they only had the crusty old 10 second timeframe of the SP-1200. (Nothing dusty about the rest of the production tho, all hyper-chattering 80s R&B finesse.) Seriously, 2003 is turning into the year old school hip-hop broke, with the ’87 air raid uplift of Joe Budden’s “Pump It Up”, the Neps doing op-Art of Noise stabs on Roscoe P. Coldchain’s “Delinquent”, the unanswerable question of those horns in the Beyonce single, even Dizzee Rascal rocking “The Big Beat” beat. (“The Big Beat”, for chrissakes! You have two months to turn in your modernist hall pass before Dizz drops the full-on slab of hip-hop I now expect him to.) Still, why can’t I shake the feeling that all this stuff – enjoyable as it is – is one forward, two back?

(The following was written after discussions with ILX’s Bob Zemko among others – Mitch, Ethan P [who tipped me off that it was a Blaze production], God, yr mom – so he’ll GET OFF MY BACK.)