03 Greedo / Mike Free - Free 03 Music Album Reviews

03 Greedo / Mike Free - Free 03 Music Album Reviews
On his first tape since his release from prison, the Los Angeles rapper and folk hero sounds battered but resilient, mixing studio sessions with tracks recorded over the phone from inside.

The late 2010s were a tumultuous time for 03 Greedo. In 2016, after six years of floating his Auto-Tuned melodies on the Watts mixtape circuit, he was arrested on drug and firearms charges that initially came with a 300-year prison sentence. The litigation didn’t stop his constant stream of music, which struck a nerve nationally with the release of The Wolf of Grape Street in March 2018. That April 30, he accepted a plea deal for the charges and was sentenced to 20 years in prison—another in a long line of rap stars whose ascents hit the turbulence of the American legal system.

Greedo spent the past four and a half years behind bars, an eternity in rap time, before his release on parole last week. He reportedly recorded more than 3,000 songs before the start of his sentence, and released a fraction of that number over the years he was locked up until the music drip stopped with the three-track 03 Inna Key EP in August 2021. He opens Free 03, his first post-release tape, the same way he has in the past: from behind the gravelly static of a jail phone. After an ominous automated message from the prison phone company, he laments the rap icons lost while he was away—Young Dolph, PnB Rock, Takeoff, and fellow Angelenos Nipsey Hussle and Drakeo the Ruler—before brushing the dirt off his shoulders to begin his new era: “It’s probably my last lil’ tape where it’s gon’ have this sound,” he announces. Free 03 blends this celebratory post-prison rush with the emotional fallout from his sentence: a collection of songs that grooves and seethes, always remaining focused on greener pastures.

Given that Greedo has been out for less than a week, it’s safe to assume Free 03 is a mix of songs from that stash of thousands and others recorded during his last days in prison. The tape combines different styles and moods to create what’s essentially a Greedo sampler, like 2018’s sprawling God Level in miniature. “Took a Little Minute” and “No Free Features” commit to hard-nosed, almost breathless rapping over rattling drums and pianos; the bubbly horniness of tracks like “Pourin” and “I Can’t Control Myself” shares space with the slinky paranoia of “Breakfast.”

Most of the vocals on Free 03 are clear and crisp, which makes the handful of tracks recorded through the jail phone all the more jarring. “Today” turns a croaked interpolation of the Ice Cube classic “It Was a Good Day” into a middle finger to fake shooters and crooked cops. On “Hype,” Greedo’s breakneck verse and ad-libs—all recorded over the phone—are interrupted by a “you have one minute” message from the phone company. Even on the verge of Greedo’s release, closing track “If I Die” plays out as a list of his fears (“One of my niggas will probably fuck my baby mama”) and dying wishes (“Leave [my casket] open, even if my face get blasted”). The song’s haunting “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” mentality is reflected through Free 03’s frenetic sequencing. Longing, concern, and pangs of hurt dovetail on every verse. 

South Central producer and Mustard affiliate Mike Free matches Greedo’s range, his varied beats landing somewhere between the hyper-focus of RonRonTheProducer’s work on Load It Up, Vol. 1 and the versatility of Kenny Beats’ production on Netflix & Deal. Free moves from anxious piano melodies (“Today,” “If I Die”) to breezy Mustard-inspired ballads (“I Can’t Control Myself”) to moody synth bangers (“Hype”) like he’s guiding listeners through a tour of Greedo’s career. In lesser hands, the tonal jumps might make Free 03 feel unfocused or scattershot, but instead they match and heighten the writing’s rush of blurred emotions.

These days, not a month goes by without a rapper facing prosecutors who split hairs over song lyrics or getting carried off on a stretcher. Greedo is aware of how lucky he is to be out and breathing, and on Free 03, his voice doesn’t sound at all weathered by the turmoil he’s experienced. He sounds anxious but ready to return to the world, keeping his guard up but making his intentions clear. Vocals on the older and newer songs clash sonically—an occupational hazard, all things considered—but both work to show the L.A. folk hero’s resilience. Greedo is now a free man, having served nearly a quarter of his original 20-year sentence. Free 03 captures both the joy and the trepidation that come with that freedom.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
03 Greedo / Mike Free - Free 03 Music Album Reviews 03 Greedo / Mike Free - Free 03 Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on January 25, 2023 Rating: 5


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