In December Freez went from being another working MC (rapper) to a trending topic on Twitter and thrust into the national spotlight.
While canvassing to get a bill passed to give sick days to all Minnesotans with a job he reported that an off duty police officer told him he wasn’t welcome “in her neighborhood,” followed him and threatened that he would be shot. In the middle of a national conversation on police accountability this story struck a nerve locally. Little did anyone know that the man in the middle of this fiasco was one of Twin Cities hip-hop’s most respected artists and was directly connected to thousands of people listening through social media.
As Freez prepares for the Jan. 13 release of “Freez’s Frozen French Freys” with producer Mike Frey (pronounced ‘fry’), Aesthetically Speaking sat down for an in-depth interview.
AS: I hear you first got your name in high school. What’s the story behind the name “Freez?”
Freez: Freez is an acronym for For Real (it’s) 2EZ. It means that it’s too easy to write good bars when you are a real person. A lot of people were calling me “Freezaburna” trying to make fun of me and I just took it and took ownership of it. Cats were like, “He’s using it so we can’t make fun of him.” A lot of my name and a lot of the stuff I do came from people clowning me and I turned it into a positive.
AS: Tell our readers about where you started in music.
I started in music class at Seward Montessori with a teacher named Barb who used to sing songs in class, and taught us music theory, but I didn’t pay attention too much. Then I started getting into hip-hop around the age 11, 12. I had this Spanish class that I never paid attention to. I used to sit there and write rhymes. I met back up with Rafael (Tufawon/Mavin MC) he introduced me to Franz Diego. Franz is the one who came up with our group name Illuminous 3.
AS: Why have you been fighting for a living wage and vacation time for workers?
Freez: It’s like I’m always the broke one. It’ll seem like I have a good job but they’re paying me funny or I’m not making enough. I’ve worked up to two to three jobs and still had to beg and borrow and owe people though the narrative is that we don’t want to take care of our kids. I’m just done with that. My dad right now is working at a warehouse now at 55. How long do you have to keep working? He just started that job last year. Before that he was out of work. It’s hard to find work when you look like us. I’m just trying to get away from that.
AS: You have a well documented history as a battle MC. How did that start?
Freez: That started in high school. It would be my brother (Delko and Tattered Life Clothing Co. owner/designer) Scott McDonald (also in the room for the interview).
McDonald: It’s funny though because that was my introduction to Minneapolis hip-hop. It turned into a big deal. It got to a point where the teachers and staff would try to shut us down. The rules on policing the school changed because of those battles because they didn’t understand hip-hop. They looked at the energy as a potential fight when everything we were doing was the opposite of promoting negative energy. We were giving everyone an outlet for their energy. A cop snatched me up one time, cuffed me, pulled me into an office alone, and beat me behind a closed door. He said “look at your face, I didn’t leave any bruises. I know what I’m doing. It’s going to be your word against mine.” Him and the principal got fired over that incident.
Freez: It really happened at that battle. Everybody saw him come out of that room roughed up. They’ve been coming at us for years, bro, for the same problem.
McDonald: To this day no liaison officer can go into a room without staff.
AS: How does it feel to finally have an album?
It feels like relief man. I first started this album before my daughter was born and she’s six (year’s old) today. I’m so aggressive about it because it’s been six years coming. It’s kind of a shot at all my doubters and haters. Everybody always told me I wouldn’t make it and I don’t know why. Maybe they couldn’t follow their own dreams? When I apply myself I excel every time.
The “Freez’s Frozen French Frey’s” album lands in stores Tuesday, Jan. 13. Fans can also listen to and buy the album on several online platforms including iTunes and www.freezandmikefrey.bandcamp.com. Freez’s album release party takes place Saturday, Jan. 17 at Icehouse, 2528 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis, with Greg Grease, Sophia Eris, Vision the Kid and DJ Willie Shu. The show is presented by Soul Tools Entertainment.