Once a Bernie Backer, Philly Rapper Freeway Now Supports Hillary

Philadelphia rapper Freeway spoke at Hillary Clinton's rally and planned to canvass for her today. “We gonna get it poppin’ for Hillary,” he says.

Freeway at West Philadelphia High School, speaking about Hillary Clinton

Rapper Freeway speaks in support of Hillary Clinton in West Philadelphia on August 16th, 2016 | Photo: Dan McQuade

It was just four months ago when Freeway posed with Bernie Sanders and encouraged Philadelphians to vote for the Vermont senator in Pennsylvania’s presidential primary.

Today, he fully emerged as a Hillary supporter: He spoke at Clinton’s West Philadelphia High School rally and gave a pep talk to Clinton canvassers before they went out to walk the streets today. He grew up in West Philly and attended West Philly High for a year before moving to North Philly.

Last year, Freeway was diagnosed with kidney failure. He currently undergoes dialysis three times a week, for four hours a day. He’s active on the kidney transplant list. And he said Hillary Clinton’s push for continued affordable health care is the main reason why he’s making a public backing of her. He said at one point, before he had insurance, he was paying $600 a month for medicine.

“When I came out with my story of being on dialysis,” Freeway says, “I ran across so many people that were going through the same thing that I’m going through. Through the grace of God, I was able to be successful and able to afford my health care. But a lot of people can’t afford it. Even with my healthcare, my treatments are a little bit expensive.”

Freeway told reporters he came to support Hillary Clinton after attending two days of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center last month. “Hillary did a lot of work with helping children, with different communities, she’s definitely for raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars,” Freeways says. “There were so many people speaking so good about her.” To Bernie-or-Bust supporters, he added: “You need to be in a room to make a change. If you’re not participating, you’re just on the sidelines talking trash. You need to vote to make a change.”

The Clinton campaign, whether it intended to or not, made a statement about criminal justice reform by partnering with Freeway. When the rapper appeared with Jay Z and then-Mayor Michael Nutter, he stepped away when it came time for a press photo. He later told 106 & Park he stepped away from the photo on his own — Vibe reported it was due to his drug conviction.

Freeway served three months for possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Northeast Philadelphia in the late 1990s. “When I was doing what I was doing — the whole time I knew it was wrong, and I felt bad about it,” he told the Daily News in 2003. “So, once I got caught and I got the chance to really think about it, I was like: Man, I’m leaving this shit alone.” Budweiser didn’t want to be associated with Freeway, but Hillary Clinton believes he’s earned his second chance.

And he was an enthusiastic backer of Clinton today. “We gonna get it poppin’ for Hillary,” he told supporters at the canvassing session. “And we’re gonna put her in the White House this year!”

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