Freeway – Diamond in the Ruff

written by: December 30, 2012
Album-Cover-for-Diamond-in-the-Ruff-by-Freeway Release Date: November 27th, 2012


“This the thirst, call me Thirstin’ Howl/It don’t matter if we rich, stranded in this bitch/My throat dry, I’m parched just like I am working out/Feel like we are backpedalin’, scramblin’ again.” Deliver it like chicken and gravy, Freeway.

After a three-year hiatus, Philadelphia rapper Freeway came back with the long anticipated album Diamond in the Ruff. Releasing albums since 2003, Freeway has rapped through several label waves: first Rock-A-Fella (Jay-Z), then Cash Money (Drake, Tyga), and now Rhymesayers (Atmosphere, Brother Ali).

Confronting identity and religious crises mid-career, Freeway broke from entertainment to make his Hajj journey to Mecca. His seasoned relationships in the big hip hop industry and a recognized name can certainly guarantee credibility and an audience. However, Diamond doesn’t live up to the hype. Much of the album feels hollow, repetitive and trivial in content.

“Money is My Medicine” flaunts a dirty beat and egorrific rhymes, creatively phrasing shallow sentiments while managing to burrow its catchy melody into one’s head. The track is tight, especially after multiple plays, but is seriously lacking unique or interesting content.

This applies to much of the album, which contains an aggressive voice hammering away at points that seem to point at hardly anything at all. “Numbers (feat. Neef Buck)” follows similar suit; neither beat nor lyrical content express much quality. “Sweet Temptations (feat. Nikki Jean)” is an example of a slow, pleasant street beat, but completely fails to mesh with Freeway’s vocal style, rhymes, or themes.

“Early” and “Ghetto Streets” carry strong vibes and are duly refreshing in contrast to the majority of the album’s contextually adverse tracks.

Diamond in the Ruff sports a raw sound that might be appropriate for certain hip hop sects. However, its inability to reach beyond with a consistent and quality style is where Freeway falls short. Props for variety in this album, but not for much else.

Freeway – Diamond in the Ruff  tracklisting:

  1. “Right Back” (feat. Marsha Ambrosius)
  2. “Greatness” (feat. Vivian Green)
  3. “The Thirst”
  4. “Wonder Tape” (feat. Suzann Christine)
  5. “No Doubt”
  6. “Dream Big” (feat. Musiq Soulchild)
  7. “Early”
  8. “Ghetto Streets”
  9. “Numbers” (feat. Neef Buck)
  10. “True” (feat. Wale)
  11. “Sweet Temptations” (feat. Nikki Jean)
  12. “All the Hoods” (feat. Miss Daja Thomas & Alonda Rich)
  13. “Hottest Akhi”
  14. “Jungle”
  15. “Money is My Medicine”
  16. “Lil Mama”