On a bright, sunny day in North Miami, New Times sat with the Haitian rapper in his favorite studio, Bay 8. Rocking a blue-and-red Adidas tracksuit, the 26-year-old artist (born Freska Desir) rehashed his first time recording at the studio with Bobby Fishscale. The rapper’s face lights up through clouds of marijuana smoke as he describes how he came to love working with sound engineers.
"I really like it,” Freese Cola says of the studio. “You got the A room and the B room, and they got this $10,000 mike here. It stands out here instead of me having to go into the booth. You always need a good engineer. If it's always one take when I come through, then we switching it up. That's how I be liking to do it.”
Freese Cola, whose stage name is derived from his childhood nickname in Creole, first started taking his songwriting abilities seriously in 2017. He immediately began working on his first official release, 1st Quarter, which dropped in January 2018. The seven-track EP features his Rippa on the Beat-produced hit “When It Get Real,” which eventually infiltrated the ears of thousands of rap fans everywhere, including L.A. rapper Mozzy and his team. After an enlightening conversation with Mozzy’s manager, Freese landed a distribution deal and collaborated with Mozzy on songs like “Livin a Lie” along with Derez De’Shon and Tsu Surf.
“I'm with Empire distribution label,” Freese says. “They signed me off one song. Everything just started going off from there.”
Freese’s music isn’t just the high-octane club records we’ve come to expect from other Miami rappers. His tunes fuse hip-hop and R&B with hard-hitting rhymes that detail his previous struggles and his plans to help himself and his crew make it out of the mud. His effortless flow bounces off every soothing melody his vocals touch, especially in songs like the guitar-laced “Trouble,” featuring Kiddo Marv, and the piano-based “Money & Power” off his Still in the Trenches project.
Freese had enough faith in himself and his music to take “When It Get Real” to 99 Jamz in 2019. He competed in the station's 99 Co-Sign contest, which gives unsigned acts the chance to have their record played on the air. After his track tied with Jay Burna's, Freese was convinced his song would win.
Unfortunately, it didn't.
“Outta nowhere, he beat me by one point. So, like, I ain't going to lie, with music, you'll get turned off quick,” Freese says. “That's how it be with a lot of artists, because music is an ego and pride thing. So it turned me down like, 'Man, I don't want to do this music shit. This music shit is fake. I'ma just get it out the streets.’”
After the defeat, Freese shifted his focus away from music and stopped dropping new songs and performing. Then the pandemic closed down everything. With his mind off music, he took advantage of his free time to go into business for himself and his family: He and his mother, Wilta, teamed up to open Tata Bon Appetit, a Caribbean/Haitian restaurant in Bradenton.
But while he was establishing the restaurant, his family began to wonder what happened to his budding music career. First, his mother asked about new music. Soon enough, all of his relatives were urging him to get back into the studio.
“That's all the support I need,” Freese says. “It's time to get back on this shit and don't stop. I'm doing all types of music now. I done recorded so much songs that I've ever did before.”
Freese isn’t wasting any time in 2021. The Haitian spitta plans to drop a wide range of music videos to support his new music. He also aims to keep his features to a minimum. And when he does reach out for a collaboration, he’s meticulous with his selections. As part of his refreshed game plan, the Little Haiti native recently released his latest EP, Still in the Trenches 2, with 300 Ent’s OMB Peezy as the sole feature.
"I sent it to OMB Preezy, and he was like, 'Yo, I like the song. I'ma get on it for free. Come to Atlanta. We can do a video.' I'm like, 'Man, say no more!'"
At Bay 8, Freese is visibly hyped about his next collaboration. His artist, OG God, sits near him as he searches through his phone for the track. Within seconds, he pulls up a clip with a fresh verse from Jacksonville rapper Tokyo Jetz, which may appear on his next project, Love Letter. Before he drops his next record, Freese is set on releasing a compilation project featuring artists from his label, 4Blocc Records, which recently signed a distribution deal through Empire.
“I've got various artists from my section too, like my boy OG God,” Freese says. “I got my boy Mastahmynde, TCI, Kutta, Mackie B, and we about to sign another young bull named Dinero. We've got a lot of talent. They hard. I think we can be the best group in Miami. The talent we've got is different."
With the compilation and solo releases in the works, the rapper and budding restaurateur is moving forward with no plans to slow down. Despite his brief hiatus, Freese Cola has been able to stay down with Empire and keep his family's business afloat.
"You can’t ever give up, man,” Freese says. “You gotta stay strong no matter what it is. That's exactly what I did. Even when I thought about giving up, I couldn't give it up, and I'm coming back strong. Sometimes the fallback is for a major comeback.”