Juelz Santana makes up for lost times with “#FREESANTANA.”
5. BOILING WATER
“Boiling Water” is powered by a hard-hitting instrumental that never lets up in trill vibes. Over it, Juelz Santana gifts us with a verse that has him bragging about his money-making/drug-dealing ways, 2 Chainz gifts us with a verse that has him coming across like both a playa and a triple OG, and Lil Wayne gifts us with a verse that has him straddling the line between dealer and user. As for Belly, he blesses the song with a gritty-ass hook that is very easy to ignore.
4. BLOODY MARY
While we never got an actual album from Lil Wayne and Juelz Santana in the past, I’m happy to hear that they are still close enough to make tracks together like “Blood Mary.”
In “Blood Mary,” both Juelz and Wayne spit serious bars over this fast-paced/triller version of Pac’s “Hail Mary” instrumental. While the former focuses mainly on clever punchlines, flows that are orthodox, and bars that are reckless, the latter spits crazy-ass bars with deliveries that damn-there sound martian-like. The combination of the two significantly different styles of rapping makes for quite the listen.
3. WISH ME WELL
“Wish Me Well” is going to be a lot of people’s favorite track on #FREESANTANA. On it, Juelz Santana raps unapologetically about his street-certified ways, his loyalty to Dipset, and his love for shooting down ops over this harder version of Drake’s “God’s Plan” instrumental.
2. THE GET BACK
In my humbling opinion, “The Get Back” is the most complete track on #FREESANTANA.
“The Get Back” is powered by this fiercer version of Jay-Z’s “Dead Presidents” instrumental. Over it, featured guest A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie blesses us with an infectious hook that has him embracing his bright future, while Juelz raps exuberantly about living lavishly in the present, feeling cautious about the future, and learning from the past.
1. 23 & 1
“23 & 1” isn’t the most complete track on “The Get Back,” but it is the most impactful.
“23 & 1” is powered by this soulful instrumental that gets more and more intense as the song goes on. Over it, Juelz Santana practically rants about America’s f**ked up jail system and a few fake friends he once had in his circle. What I love most about the song is that Juelz keeps his composure throughout it, tackling some pretty tough issues through clever punchlines and deliveries that are on point.
At the end of “23 & 1,” Meek Mill, someone who was recently released from jail, talks about the conversations he has had with Juelz Santana these last couple of months. It’s definitely something that is beautiful to listen to.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. 23 & 1 (4.5/5)
2. PINK EAGLE (4/5)
3. WISH ME WELL (4/5)
4. IN MY LIFE (3.5/5)
5. BOILING WATER (4/5)
6. DO YOU BELIEVE (4/5)
7. CELEBRATION (4/5)
8. BLOOD MARY (4/5)
9. EZ WORK (3.5/5)
10. THE GET BACK (4.5/5)
WHAT DO I LIKE ABOUT #FREESANTANA
- You get vintage Juelz Santana on the album. When I was in high school, I actually thought Juelz Santana was one of the best rappers in the game. To me, he was great at dropping clever punchlines, coming across like the coolest n***a in the room, and talking about drug-dealing (Back then, rappers who talked about drug-dealing were cool as s**t). Today, he still possesses the same qualities that made him a great rapper back then.
- The features on the album were fantastic. Apparently, I am not the only one that loves Juelz Santana. Throughout #FREESANTANA, you get outstanding contributions by featured guests 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, Dave East, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, and Jim Jones. Personally, I cannot imagine any of them charging Juelz to be on the album.
- The content on the album is hood-marvelous. After all of these years, it still seems like Juelz Santana has his ears to the streets. Throughout #FREESANTANA, he talks about certified hood s**t that revolves around drug-dealing, gunplay, and trickin. He also talks about real-ass s**t that revolves around hood loyalty and street codes. Personally, I love how Juelz merged the two worlds together on the album.
- Juelz stayed in his pocket on the album. Juelz Santana knows what he does well: spit bars. Throughout #FREESANTANA, that is what he exclusively does. (More rappers who can’t sing need to stay in their lane)
WHAT I DO NOT LIKE ABOUT #FREESANTANA
- The beats on the album are blah. As of late, artists have been rapping over lazy remakes of classic hip-hop instrumentals; in #FREESANTANA, Juelz does the same thing.
- The quality of the album sounds poor at times. I get it, Juelz is in jail and probably can’t master his s**t right now, but damn, why does Jim Jones’ verses on #FREESANTANA sound low-quality, too?
- Cam’ron’s lack of involvement on the album. As a Dipset fan, I’m disappointed that Cam’ron wasn’t on #FREESANTANA. Correct, brothers fight and have their differences, but if you are a brother of someone who isn’t doing too well right now, I would think you would want to support them in any way you can. Whatever the case may be, I thought the album could’ve used Cam’ron on songs like “Pink Eagle” and “Celebration.” (Juelz even disses him in “In My Life”)
When it’s all said and done, #FREESANTANA is an album that reminds the world that Juelz Santana, someone who is 38-years old right now, can still be rapper you consider to have next. (I hope he continues to drop music at a rapid pace when he gets out of jail)