When I have the time to enjoy live music (of course, I had more time to do this during my college years), I am always on the search for the next group of musicians to feature for my annual “Musically Chic” series. I admit I have been wanting to feature Robert McFreshington and his crew that makes up FREEstate Workshop for a few years now.
FINALLY . .. the interview is here with a man some call Fresh or Fresh Competition! The British born EMCee began his journey with the Maryland music scene back in 2006. It was in October 2009 that he established FREEstate Workshop, an audio, video production, promotion and clothing line company all wrapped into one. Just this year, FREEstate broke one million views on Youtube. Besides being the mastermind behind a company that supports local music, he’s gets killer style points in my book.
Think FREE, speak FREE, live FREE.
How did you know you wanted to be a musician?
“Music has been my savior since I found out about the holy trinity of Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding,” McFreshington said. In my youth I was a chorus and played woodwinds throughout school. I started writing poetry at the age of 10 years old, this was my outlet, my escape and yet also the way I faced and dealt with my problems.
As Hip Hop grew through the 80’s and 90’s I began freestyling (real freestyling, not reciting written lyrics and calling it freestyling) for fun around the neighborhood. I grew up in Brooklyn Park, city zip code but considered Northern Anne Arundel County. I still have a tough time calling myself a rapper, more a poet who happens to rap… an emcee, master of ceremonies, commander of the stage.”
What do you remember about your first live performance?
“My first live performance was at Denafest,” McFreshington said. Denafest is an annual benefit concert started by Aaron Hooper of the band Pasadena. This event still continues, this year it is the last weekend in August. I wore a black blazer, fitted cap low and rocked the stage in front of a crowd that had no clue who I was. MacG (John McGowan) one of my producers, rocked the electric guitar wearing the Burger King Mask. I remember pondering the thought “How many times I was going to mess up.”
The answer was 3, we videoed it to learn and grow as artists. One thing I did learn is it is not a good idea to smoke a blunt to the dome before you go on stage to perform a hip hop set. It is very faced paced, trying to fit as many songs as you can in a 25 minute window and cotton mouth can be a major difficulty.”
What do you love about performing?
“I am very extroverted by nature but when I am on stage I go inside,” McFreshington said. I still perform, I still entertain, but it is as if I bare my sol while I am still inside of it. I enjoy the feedback from the crowd, I enjoy the feel of the blood rushing through my veins, I enjoy seeing the faces of those in the crowd of the ones who are right there with me, who are feeling it for 1000 different reasons than I am and we relate even though we may have never spoken a word to one another.
It is the sweet spot, the lights of a big production, the moment the soundman gets the monitor and the house mix just right, the kick in the drums, the thump of the bass and the simplicity of those nights many years ago underneath of the street lights. Just me and my words.”
Describe your personal style in five words or less.
“Pain, Broken, Deliberate, Real, Passionate.”
What are your plans for the summer, well music well?
“I am currently working with two producers Kenny Slikworth (aka Kenny Kilsworth) and MacG (aka John McGowan) on 2 new albums,” McFreshington said. One will be a Mixtape entitled “refreshed”, this album will have features from many different local musicians and the tracks will contain small samples here and there. This album I plan on releasing digitally for free.
The other will be my 3rd studio album (my first album was “Flowin is half the Battle” and “Fresh Composition”) . The working title right now is “Say Goodbye to Competition” 100% original, no samples in the music, all original beats again supplied by Kenny Kilsworth and MacG. I will be mixing in live instrumentation and I believe this will be the truest representation of my artistry. The lyrics will be very personal. I decided that I want to make sure each track is one that I will be proud of and will be a representation of myself. The album title is in reference to me moving away from the moniker of “Fresh Competition” and towards McFreshington.
Before I was an emcee I was given the nick name of ‘Rob Fresh’, when I decided to be an emcee I wanted a moniker the likes of “Busta Rhymes’ “Black Thought” and “Mos Def’. I still enjoy the name but I am just over competing. We as musicians do not compete with each other (I know this is contrary to current hip hop standards), we all are different. It is our differences that make us unique. I am at a point in my life where I do not make music to be the next big thing, I create because I am a creator. I make music to heal my soul and hopefully help others on this journey.”
Check out FREEstate Workshop here: