Back in September, Philadelphia's very own, Freeway had a critical health scare after being diagnosed with kidney failure
. This came after Freeway went to his family doctor for a routine checkup. Shortly thereafter, the rapper, born Leslie Pidgin, received a phone call from his primary care physician telling him that he needed to go to the nearest emergency room because his kidney functions were “low and out of wack.”
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Since then, the “1-900-Hustler” rapper has undergone a successful kidney failure surgery, and is on the road to a rapid recovery. And now that #TeamEarly is back on the grind, Philadelphia Freeway is using his voice to warn the masses that kidney failure is a very real and dangerous thing.
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"I want everybody to make sure that they take care of themselves, and it’s important to check in with your primary care physicians and keep up with you doctor appointments," Freeway
in downtown Philly before his Kidney disease benefit concert.
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After participating in the 2015 New York City Kidney Walk
-- a fundraising event for the National Kidney Foundation -- he went back to his hometown on Friday night (Nov. 20th) to host and perform his Freeway And Friends Benefit
concert. A portion of the profits from the concert will go to the National Kidney Foundation to bring more awareness to kidney failure.
But, before the former Roc-A-Fella artist rocked the mic at Club Trocadero, the bearded rapper invited VIBE
backstage for a brief convo about his mission to spread awareness about about kidney failure, his new diet and dialysis. Also, we had a chance to chop it with Philly legends Beanie Sigel, Young Chris and Ab-Liva about Freeway's authenticity and his life before the health scare.
VIBE:Tell us about tonight's concert.
Well, in September I was diagnosed with Kidney failure, so this is a benefit concert to raise awareness about kidney disease, and some of the proceeds are going toward the National Kidney Foundation.
I'm sure that your diet has changed, but what are some other things that you've had to change as a result of your health scare?
Yeah, I had to change my diet. There's a lot of things that I can’t eat now. I can’t eat bananas, oranges, and ketchup. I have to do dialysis three times a week, four times a day. It’s big lifestyle change but it’s all-good.
How are you staying focused?
You know, I’m standing in front of it. But my main thing is letting other people know that are in the same position that kidney disease is not a death sentence. You can still have an active and normal life.
Has this affected your stage presence or how frequent you can perform?
I have t plan more now that I am doing dialysis three times a day, so I have to book ahead. When I go to different cities, I have set up dialyses there before I go. But besides that I’m good.
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Ab-Liva on Freeway
"We’ve known each other before the record deals, when we used to be in the basement recording in the late ‘90s. And I can honestly say that he’s a genuine dude. The way that he was back in the day, he’s been the same cat all the way through. Even when he was signed with Jay Z and the hottest label in the game, he’s always been consistent. He’s always showed love. I’d be traveling with The Clipse or with Pusha T, and I’d run into him, and it’s been always genuine.
When I heard about his health issues, it caught me off guard because we're so used to running that we don’t always get to the doctor like we supposed to. So, it really woke me, I actually went to the doctor last week to make sure that everything is good with me. I hate that he had to go though that to bring awareness. I feel like him sharing it with the world and encouraging people to make sure that you’re healthy is a great thing for hip-hop."
Young Chris on Freeway
"We was on the road. We had a show in Chicago a couple weeks ago. And we got in the car after lunch. This was the first time in a long time that the whole State Property has been together. So, we was looking forward to this shit. Free didn’t make it to the airport. He didn’t make the flight. And that ain’t like Free. So, we was thinking maybe the nigga had a show somewhere else. We ain’t never think the nigga was sick.
Beanie Sigel on Freeway
"In fact, we was in Detroit and Chris pulled me to the side and was like: ‘Yo, what up Free?""
"Oh yeah. The show before that, I pulled him to the side and asked him: ‘Freeway wasn’t himself.’ So, I asked Mack what was up. Mack ain’t make it to Made In America
so I told him how he was there. He [Freeway] pulled me to the side before the show and was like: “Yo, I’m not feeling too well. I need you to hold me down." But he never told anybody he was sick or nothing. So I’m like what the fuck? You know, Free come out and he was moving all slow and shit."
"You know, but it’s good that it happened when he did and he was able to get help. It could’ve been a lot worse. And that’s why we hear tonight, to help raise money and push people to be more concerned about their health."
[Photos By Alex Nguyen]