Freeway is one of the best hardcore rhymers ever to come from Philly, a city known for great rappers who engage in extremely gangster behavior (think: Steady B, Beanie Sigel). But before rapping or hustling, Free was your average kid excited about Halloween and eager to show off to classmates. And yes, like most kids, Freeway even had run-ins with bullies. In this candid convo with Mass Appeal, Free recounts being robbed for a prized ALF mask and how the incident made him a martial artist. No, really.
“When I was kid my mom always use to tell me stuff like, ‘don’t take [valuable] shit to school or else something is going to happen to you.’ So it was like around Halloween and I was going to this school called Sayre Middle School. It was like on 58th street and I lived on 52nd, so I had to walk all the way from 52nd to 58th, and there was these little bad ass dirty kids [that lived there] and they called ‘em the ‘Bebe’s Kids from 58th Street’ and they always use to fuck with people right so my mom told me she bought me an ALF mask for Halloween, so I could be ALF for Halloween.
My mom told me ‘don’t take it to school, you might get in trouble, you’re not supposed to take your mask to school.’ I took it to school anyway, kept in my book bag, the whole time. After school I put it on. I’m stuntin’ around the schoolyard, walking around with it on. So I’m walking home after school with my ALF mask, and here comes the fucking Bebe’s Kids–and they fucking rolled on me. I was fighting back, I was really trying to fight back, but it was like four of them, and they beat me up real bad and took my ALF mask. I walked home and my mom is like ‘What happened to your ALF mask?’ And I had to tell her what happened, and that was crazy. After that she put me in karate class.
I got a black belt in Shotokan [karate], I got a green belt in jujitsu, and I did muay thai. I got trophies and everything. I always use to come in first place in tournaments and everything. Ask Peedi Crakk or anybody that grew up with me–they know what I’m about.
I never seen them after that and I wasn’t tryin’ to see ‘em neither because they really fucked me up! But like after four or five months of karate class, I was like ‘I hope I see one of them, so I can catch one of them by themselves,’ but I never did. I don’t know what they did with that mask! It was crazy man. I really felt bad about that ’cause like my mom told me not to take that mask to school . . . if I had listened to her I would’ve still had it . . .
I loved that mask, yo.” — as told to Timmhotep
Freeway’s new album, Diamond In The Ruff drops on Nov. 27. Pre-order it on iTunes.