Freeway and the Jacka linked up for the October 2014 release, which brought together two coasts — Free is from Philadelphia, while the Jacka was raised in the Bay — for one album of full of heat.
But their friendship was deeper than music, which made the death of the Jacka — who was killed in Oakland last month — that much harder on Free.
“I flew out there for his funeral and then I spent some time with his family and stuff, stayed out there for like a week,” the rapper told MTV News. “And it was hard. Because every time I go out there, his energy that he brings to the table, he’s energetic — he’s just a good person with a good heart, so it’s so good to always have him around. Being out there without him was kind of hard.”
Free recounted their extensive time on the road together, rocking shows everywhere from the States to Sweden and Africa. In fact, the last time he saw the Jacka was on a trip they took overseas.
“The last time I saw him, we did a run in the U.K. where we did a lecture tour,” he remembered. “We both Muslim and we did a tour where we went to five different cities in the U.K. and we talked about being Muslim and in the music business and some of the challenges that we faced, just being black, trying to do the right thing. That was the last time that I got to spend some time with him and it was great.”
“We flew back into New York, we sat down, we ate together, I gave him a hug, I said, ‘I’ll see you later my brother,’ and he went to his gate and I went to my gate; that’s the last time I seen him,” Free said.
As he recalled that emotional final exchange — which, of course, he didn’t know would be the last time they saw one another — tears began to stream down his face. But that didn’t stop Free from continuing to pay tribute to his friend.
“I think it was probably like ’02, I was on tour with Jay [Z], and I met them and he paid me to do a verse,” he said, thinking back to when they initially linked up. “I just felt his vibe. They Muslim, they was on what I was on. I’m from Philly, and the stuff that I was doing, things I was going through in the streets, and just the way that I was living, they was doing the same thing, but they was just on the West Coast. And we just vibed together and made great music together.
“He’s a good dude. Love him.”