Broken Ankles is the industry collaboration you’d least expect: on one hand there’s Freeway, the North Philly artist with a voice made of Marlboros and Pop Rocks who ran with Beanie Siegel and rapped about how he would “wet your squadron up.” Then there’s Girl Talk, the Pittsburgh mashup master who, like most contemporary DJs, gets pasty-faced white girls riled up over a fascinating mix of Madonna’s “Vogue” and The Beastie Boy’s “Shake Your Rump”. It’s not that odd of a collab, but reason would suggest that the sampler and the samplee remain as such.
In any case, this interesting experiment has left six tracks (one loud-mouthed intro and five songs) for listeners to peruse. Broken Ankles runs like an arcade game with unlimited plays. This feeling is mainly afforded by GT’s punchy, pop-pruned production. “Tolerated” has triumphant horns and a head-bobbing rhythm, and “I Can Hear Sweat” makes great use of a burning guitar lead and bright piano keys. The EP’s least inventive track production-wise, “Lived It,” should still appeal to listeners who want to hear chipmunk soul accompanied by trap percussion. It also helps that GT litters these tracks with beat changes or tempo shifts that ramp up the overall vibe.
Freeway’s contribution to the project does not falter in any respect, but his rhymes don’t grab with the same tight fist. Let’s be honest: every drug rapper purports a shade of the same mold, and Freeza spits nothing particularly new in terms of the whole “I lived a criminal lifestyle and decided to rap instead of face prison time” rhetoric. He certainly has the knack for it. His rigid loyalty to the pocket keeps his lyrics catchy despite their tedium and his overdone rasp should amuse for a spin or two. But Freeway still remains the weaker link: when Waka Flocka spits the better verse on your first track (“Tolerated”), its not the end of the world but… yeah. Not that compelling.
As a whole, Broken Ankles has a substantial amount of value. The random team-up could have turned into a hour-long mix of Freeway grunting nonchalantly over Cyndi Lauper instrumentation, but fate proved otherwise. Freeway may not have chosen the best time to tread well-worn ground, so its appropriate that GT’s flashy beats lead listeners through.