Lebanese rapper Free Hamze returns with his brand-new six-track offering ‘FREETAPE 3: Survival of the Realest’. Rising Houston producer K33F, well known for his collaborations with JAN HVPE and TSF, produced this tape.
Combining Free Hamze’s distinctive lyricism, trap-inspired production, and unconventional revolutionary viewpoints, ‘FREETAPE 3: Survival of the Realest’ features rappers Blakchyl and TTBBY.
‘FREETAPE 3: Survival of the Realest’ reflects on the idea that the only way to thrive in a world that is becoming more and more superficial and distant is to be true to who you are. Free Hamze’s passion for preserving community led him to establish Sahar Studios in Austin, where he records local musicians for free and hosts showcases. Along with his collective, A5, he is currently working on creating an intentional community on 40 acres of property in the American Southwest. Free Hamze continues to be dedicated to using all available means to better the material and emotional circumstances of his friends and family, using music as his main medium of expression and spirit. Freedom is his ultimate objective.
Inspired by present trap music and Houston hip-hop, the song was written on FL Studios. Strong bass lines are used throughout the beats, accompanied by both hard 808s and more conventional bass guitars. There are also indications of electronic and anger influences.
Free Hamze spent a month recording ‘FREETAPE 3: Survival of the Realest’, when he was dividing his time between Austin, Texas, and Los Angeles, California. The studio where the entire project was recorded is called Sahar Studios, which he owns. The word “magic” in Arabic is “sahar.” One of the cornerstones of the Austin rap movement, the studio’s tagline is “music is a mirror made from magic.” he and K33F locked in at SXSW, and he sent him a selection of beat packs.
Like much of his earlier work, the majority of the songs on this mixtape were recorded as freestyles. Free Hamze selected his favourite rhythm among many that K33F sent him. When he was ready to record, he just followed the beat and recorded whatever came to him, without hesitation or second-guessing. Both “Kill Me Twice” and “D.A.R.E.” were recorded in a single take without a single word being jotted down. He rerecorded “Gold vs. Silver” after making some adjustments to the original freestyle version. The songs “One in the Same,” “Revolutionary Trap$tarz,” and “Better Forreal” were all composed with the mixtape’s theme in mind.
Free Hamze greatly respected the two features, Blakchyl and TTBBY, who are skilled collaborators and artists from Texas. Blakchyl, who is from Austin, is a frequent visitor to Sahar Studios and they have collaborated on multiple songs. After TTBBY’s performance at a Sahar Studios showcase during SXSW, the two artists became friends. He greatly admires both of these artists, and he felt that their contributions to the song meant a lot to him. TTBBY is a well-known rapper from Houston who shares a similar background with producer K33F, and Blakchyl is one of the best rappers in Austin.
Although it was not the original plan, the themes of the project were impacted by the ongoing genocide in Palestine; for example, the project begins with a quote from Ghassan Kanafani and finishes with an homage to Gaza. The war struck after Free Hamze had finished a few songs, and he felt obliged to express some of his emotions on the subject through his music. He feels that it is his duty to at the very least address these issues in his artwork. He released another song, “Raji’un,” ahead of the mixtape’s release. The song borrows the Quranic phrase “Inna Illayhi Raji’un,” which laments the passing of family members. The mixtape’s title, ‘Survival of the Realest’, was likewise inspired by these experiences and emotions. He previously stated that it is “a rumination on the belief that staying true to yourself is the only way to survive in an increasingly detached and superficial world.”
On the album, Free Hamze comments, “When I gave FREETAPE 3 the title ‘Survival of the Realest’ it was because I wanted both me and my listeners to be constantly reminded how critical it is for us to stay real. In this world and in this lifetime. So much suffering, insecurity, fear, and misalignment comes from people refusing to prioritize realness in their lives. And what does it mean to be real? To me, it means being honest with yourself, it means being brave in the face of suppression, it means being dedicated to your dreams, and much more. And survival isn’t just about staying alive – it’s about living in alignment with your highest self and in alignment with the principles of righteousness. So much music is about needless violence, unchecked greed, and superficial gain. To truly survive in a corrupted world, we need to elevate beyond these limitations and embrace realness within ourselves and within our communities.”
One in the Same
Gold vs. Silver
Kill Me Twice
Free Hamze is a Lebanese rapper raised in Austin, Texas, who named himself what he chose to be. Introduced to hip hop through rappers such as Lupe Fiasco and Mos Def, who often spoke Arabic on their records, rap music was a critical part of Free’s upbringing as a child of immigrants. Starting as a poet, he’s always emphasized the spoken and written word, despite most of his songs being freestyles.
After breaking into the Texas rap scene with two projects in 2022 – Green Alchemy and FREETAPE1: Friends With Bugs – he’s made his mark on listeners with his introspective and animated lyrics that reflect on the philosophies and experiences of a young hustler. With a beat selection of trap, plugging, and alternative rap influences, his audience spans throughout the Texas music scene and beyond. Balancing lyrics that are both whimsical and vulnerable, his music takes his audience on a personal ride through his subconscious, using music as the avenue for his divergent personalities to take shape in the form of sound. Rocking stages in Austin, Houston, LA, Mexico City, and more, Free Hamze wants his music to transcend the borders of both country and consciousness.