Freeway Defends Islam Against Radicalization Rhetoric

By Lora Neng
March 30, 2011

Leslie Pridgen was 14 when he took Shahada, the Muslim confession to faith. As the hip-hop artist Freeway, he is slowly carrying over his faith into his music. His career took off at Roc-A-Fella Records under the auspices of mogul Jay-Z. Since then, “The fans can get more out of my music now because I have more of a message,” Freeway said to CNN. “I’m more conscious about what I say now because in Islam we believe that you’re going to be held accountable for everything that comes out your mouth.”

Freeway describes himself as a “reality-rapper,” never forgetting the deaths of a cousin and close friend to gun violence and having served time in jail for drug possession. His life has changed from the situation when he was “still in the streets running around doing a bunch of crazy stuff,” but “every day is a temptation, every day is work.”

While the congressional hearings on the radicalization of Muslim Americans are underway, led by House Homeland Security Committee chairman Peter King, the Philly rapper voiced his dismay. “You can’t judge a whole group of people for a few people making mistakes.” Freeway is one in a growing roster of openly Muslim rappers, including Lupe Fiasco, Q-Tip, Mos Def, attesting to the faith’s aid in his rehabilitation. 

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