EXCLUSIVE: Freeway On Being Tapped To Pick Winner of the Ultimate Rap League’s UM3 Tournament
Tony Bro, Battle Raps Fanatic (Polo), Minnesota Luke, and Freeway are set to judge the Ultimate Madness 3 competition and will decide who gets Drake’s $100K prize.
SMACK URL’s tournament, Ultimate Madness 3 (first round) takes place on Saturday, April 24 and with this season, quite a few special surprises have come to play.
First, there are women in this competition. Second, the staff has tapped some of their most elite talent to hop in the ring. Then Drake comes in and sponsors a cash prize to the winner of $100,000. But then they announce the judges: Tony Bro, Battle Raps Fanatic (Polo), Minnesota Luke, and the chart-topping rapper Freeway.
This weekend, 16 MCs are vying for $100k in the BIGGEST Ultimate Madness ever. Join us for round one of @urltv #UltimateMadness3 this Saturday at 3p ET / 12p PT. https://t.co/PQfhM6OZN5
Yes … you read it right … the young bouhl from Philly … one of the illest voices in Hip-Hop history … State Property gunner … businessman … faith-leader … survivor … and battle rapper …
AllHipHop.com got to chop it up with Freeway about Smack leaning on their almost 20-year-old friendship to bring him to weigh in on who should cop that big bag.
Many in the battle rap community question whether or not he is locked in. Their only reference for him in battle rap is his battle with Cassidy. But that’s because they weren’t at the teen club Dances when he met Beanie Sigel. He had the Broad Street bully pull him on the stage to battle with him.
He also talks about his history in the culture, battling Queensbridge’s Cormega and being on deck to battle anyone looking to sign with The Roc back in the day.
“I’ll be in the room and Jay would give the head nod and I would be like (growl), I had to chew them,” he shared. “A lot of people hated me for that. I shut down a lot of opportunities.”
“On the same token, it was dangerous for me too because someone could embarrass me in that jawn.”
He continued, “Especially at that time, a battle could break out at any moment. Now the battles are set up two or three months so that you can prepare for your opponents.”
So locked in, he identifies both K-Shine and Tay Roc are some of his favorite battle rappers (also stating that some of his favorites are in the tournament and so he can’t actually name them now).
Folk know that Free has made anthems, during our interview he mentions who he would make a fire record with if given the chance. The posse cut would have to have K-Shine, Rum Nitty, and O’fficial on it and he is gonna make that happen. Speaking of new music and making it happen… he dropped two jewels: Beanie Sigel has a new project coming and State Property (all seven members) are on the same page and will be putting out music soon. #NotDrawling
Well, the question that everyone wants to be answered… “What is he looking for as a battle judge?”
He says it is more than just bars. Free will be looking for delivery, bars, energy, can they keep the crowd tuned in, stand out performances, clarity, and overall precision, “There are a lot of talented artists on the card and it is definitely going to be interesting.”
“It’s gonna be hard. It ain’t gonna be easy to judge.”
Free also talked to us about the importance of Islam and growing up in a multi-faith family: his mom was a Christian and his dad was in the Nation of Alkebulan. He talks about how in February of 2019, the rapper successfully received a kidney transplant and how that process has changed his life.
Since then, he has become a celebrity ambassador for the National Kidney Foundation, works with Gift of Life, and founded the Freedom Thinkers Academy/ Freedom Thinkers, Inc.
The “8 Miles and Runnin’” rapper explains how Freedom Thinkers Academy focuses on music, health, education, and culture — and how they have some new musical projects coming out in the future.
The Kenny Gamble of this generation, Freeway pushes for empowerment and wellness, even as he deals with his personal struggles. In October of 2020, he suddenly lost his son Jihad Pridgen (a young rapper named Snow Hadd). This came a month after his daughter Harmony was diagnosed with cancer. His faith has helped him support her as she fights the disease.
It is also his faith and love for the culture that keeps busy: this weekend alone he is the UM3 judge, has a concert with The Lox, and will attend the funeral for his Def Jam labelmate, DMX.
There is work to do — and the bouhl is locked in and ain’t missing nothing. #PrayersUpAlways
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After 20 years in the music industry and a life-altering battle with kidney health, kidney transplant recipient, Leslie Pridgen, aka, Philadelphia Freeway founded the Freedom Thinkers Academy Music, Health, and Education Division. The overall mission of the Freedom Thinkers Academy is to provide awareness in music, health, and education through discussions, events, mentoring, face-to-face, virtual create-it-yourself (CIY) music workshops, and a workforce development program for individuals who share his experiences and passion.