Singer Torii Wolf has been working closely with the legendary DJ Premier for a while now—their collaborations have been on our radar since last fall, when Primo remixed Wolf's tune "Shadows Crawl." Now they're back, and this time they've brought along another famous friend.
Macklemore joins the duo on Wolf's new song "Free," which we're proud to premiere (get it?) below. The tune is produced by DJ Premier's long-time associate King of Chill, with Preem on the scratches.
While Premier is of course best-known for his work with rappers (including his own group, the iconic duo Gang Starr), he has been collaborating with singers for nearly as long. Whether it's D'Angelo, Janet, Miguel, or Macy Gray, Premier's beats have held them all down. And, of course, who could forget his Grammy-winning work with Christina Aguilera?
"Free" continues that winning track record with its message that true freedom comes from within. The tune was originally inspired by a Police song.
"When we had our first meeting to compile which songs were going to make the album [Wolf's upcoming Flow Riott], King of Chill plays this track that I hadn’t heard," Premier told Complex. "It was only a beat and Torii was singing a line from the Police’s 'Voices Inside My Head.' I asked both of them, why have I never heard this? It needed lyrics, but we removed the hook because I wanted to scratch on it. Torii came back to the studio, wrote and recorded her vocals and she decided to call it 'Free.' I was instantly hooked on this being one of the single releases from the album."
The track's subject matter holds very special meaning for Wolf as well.
"'Free' is a special tune. It’s very relatable," she explained. "True freedom comes from within; it’s the battle we face each day with our own identity. Having the confidence to be comfortable in our skin and with who we are; and being our true authentic selves. I find the content of someone else’s mind most attractive.
She continued, "Feeling free in my gender fluidity and the way I connect with other humans is vital to my being. To feel safe in outwardly expressing what it is that ignites a spark in me can be very challenging in the society we live in. However, it’s only harder when I try and resist it. It feels very important for me to lead by example in sharing with others how we are in control of our own destiny. To be in touch with ourselves in knowing what we want, who we are and what feels good is such a gift. It radiates and it is very liberating. Allowing your spirit to shine can be contagious and that freedom from within is the light that we all need."
Despite the fact that Wolf didn't mention the song's deeper meaning to Macklemore, he still hit on it in his verses.
"Without even getting too in-depth with him conceptually, Macklemore’s verse fell so in line with the feel so organically," Wolf added. "Ben’s words are so dope and I feel so grateful to hold space for them on this record. 'My spar partner is the devil, but I train with God' and 'As long as I’m me, then you know that I’m free' are such incredible lines that truly resonate."
The song's artwork was done by the mother-daughter team of Amanda and Jaxon Demme. Amanda, who also created the artwork for the DJ Premier/Royce Da 5'9" collaboration PRhyme, has a long history in the entertainment business, having done music supervision for movies like Judgment Night, Blow, Garden State, and Mean Girls.