Nineteen minutes, then it’s gone. Broken Ankles does what an EP should. It’s short and forthright, but leaves you craving more. This unlikely collaboration of Girl Talk and Freeway isn’t as idiosyncratic as you might expect, as Girl Talk’s typically dance friendly beats are stripped of the samples of Billboard-charting hits and translated into surprisingly pure hip-hop instrumentals. The beats are hard-hitting and in your face, and are a perfect compliment to Freeway’s gritty, Philly cadence.
The brash instrumentals fuel Freeway with a renewed energy. While guests pop up on three of the five songs on Broken Ankles, they all take a backseat to Freeway, who sounds as motivated as he has since Philadelphia Freeway. It helps that “Tell Me Yeah” sounds like it came straight from Just Blaze’s 2003 vault. When Freeway raps, “These haters done pissed me off” on “Tolerated”, he really means it. A Waka Flocka verse sandwiched between vicious Freeway offerings doesn’t add much and even detracts a bit from the ferocity of the song.
Young Chris and Jadakiss also make appearances on the EP, and while neither is particularly bad, they don’t necessarily bring anything to enhance the overall package apart from providing a fresh voice to break up Freeway’s verses. Truth be told, Freeway is good enough here that Broken Ankles might have benefited from having no features and letting Freeway rock the mic for the entire 19 minutes. It’s definitely the best he’s sounded since “The Stimulus Package” with Jake One.
While most of the lyrical content is nothing more than habitual boasts, it’s Freeway’s strong delivery that draws the attention and just makes this enjoyable, hard-nosed East Coast rap. He does dive a little deeper on the final track, “Lived It”, a Petrarchan reflection on his 36 years on soil and his journey through the rap game. Broken Ankles doesn’t have a ton of substance, and it’s so short that it feels almost more of like a sampler than a fleshed out project, but this closer changes the tone up a bit and helps round out Broken Ankles.
All five songs are high quality, and they leave you wishing there was twice, maybe even three times as many. Then again, it’s hard to say whether or not a full album would’ve been as good. Part of the appeal of Broken Ankles is that it’s fun, quick, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Every song is good, but there isn’t a lot of variety. Girl Talk would’ve had to switch his style up to keep things from getting repetitive, and Freeway would’ve needed to tackle some different concepts. As it stands, Girl Talk & Freeway’s Broken Ankles is great for what it is and for what it aims to do.
At a mere 19 minutes, there’s no reason not to listen to this free EP if you like rap music. It’s brazen and bumptious with a style evocative of early 2000s East Coast rap. Freeway delivers a great performance and Girl Talk’s heavy instrumentals suit him well. It’s not original enough to be something that we’ll be remembering 10 years from now, but it’s a fun and simple EP that leaves you wanting more.