Free Sol
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Free Sol


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The best kept secret in music



By Bill Ellis
Memphis, TN

To see Free Sol is to become a fan, something lots of folks will have the chance to do when the charismatic, boundary-pushing group debuts its unique sound at Beale fest on Sunday.

For those new to the Free Sol experience, the Memphis quartet takes bits and pieces from hip-hop, jazz, soul, metal and even ska to come up with the most energetic collision of cultures since, one might argue, that Elvis dude back 50 years ago.

You could also view the act as a Fishbone for the Bluff City, though such a comparison doesn't explain all the devilish, sophisticated turns a Free Sol concert has in store. This band brings it all to the table, integrating music that both the Roots and Prince could appreciate.

"I wanted a hip-hop band," says Christopher 'Free Sol' Anderson, 24, the group's leader and lead rapper. "Everybody told me if I wanted to do rap in this city, I either had to change my style or get out."

Indeed, Free Sol's approach is pretty much the antithesis of the town's gangsta rap. Though he holds great respect for best-selling acts like Three 6 Mafia, Anderson feels that rap is in something of a rut."

I want the hood to grow," he says. "I want hip-hop to grow. I want to be a good example to some young brothers and sisters, to open their minds so they realize that hip-hop has many forms. I think hip-hop is the future, and (yet) black people in general are not into music like we used to be. The Quincy Joneses, where are they?"

A former member of local hip-hop act the Sol Katz, Anderson started Free Sol in November 2002, though the lineup didn't settle down 'til six months ago.

The ensemble also consists of keyboardist Daniel D. Dangerfield, guitarist Elliott Ives, and drummer James 'Kickman Teddy' Thomas. They first made waves when they won the 2003 Mid-South Grammy Showcase, impressing judges that included several music industry executives. Don Mann, head of upstart indie label Memphis Records, soon signed them.

"It was almost a case where I began to appreciate the power of their music after the fact because their stage show was so engaging," he says.

Free Sol has since has been busy putting the finishing touches on its debut, 11:11, at the label's studio, Young Avenue Sound, with co-producer Willie Pevear (Grammy nominee Carlos Broady is also working on several tracks).

Due later in May, the record is a tour de force of attitude, sound and style that grooves one minute like A Tribe Called Quest at its jazzy best (the tune "Possibility"), while strapping an Asian vibe - with operatic fills, no less - around the timely political tirade of "Mr. President" the next.

Free Sol clearly plays by nobody's rules. Adds Anderson: "We are who we say we are, and that's free. That's something we bring to the stage and something we give to the people."

Free Sol plays 2:20 p.m. Sunday at the Budweiser stage of the Beale Street Music Festival.

- The Commercial Appeal


By Bill Ellis
Memphis, TN

You knew somebody had to play "Proud Mary" over the weekend.

Thank goodness local newcomers Free Sol did the honors, rendering the river anthem into a day-affirming hip-hop assault that updated Ike and Tina Turner's knock-em/sock-em version. Like many songs in Free Sol's Sunday set on the Budweiser Stage, it cleared the clouds of the mind for all the good vibes to follow.

One of our city's best live acts, the adventurous septet showed why they easily won the Mid-South Grammy showcase last fall. With energy and craft to spare, Free Sol took a dozen delightful detours - you never knew what they would do next, but no matter the stylistic wrinkle, you didn't want to miss it, especially on the tune "Shake Junt," which appropriated Prince's "When Doves Cry" to become the booty dance to beat.

Members of Bob Marley's famed reggae group the Wailers could be seen listening back stage - and not because they were up next.

Led these days by bassist Aston 'Familyman' Barrett, the Wailers were the perfect backdrop to the stunningly gorgeous turn of weather Sunday's Beale fest took (early in the day, at least). Travel around the world a bit and you quickly realize that music's international ambassador is not so much Elvis Presley as it is Bob Marley. Continuing in the path of the late legend, Barrett and his seasoned rasta crew served up a set of positive vibrations capped by the Marley classic "Three Little Birds."

The weekend's recurrent theme - rainy skies - appeared once again Sunday night to close Beale fest on a damp, muddy note.

Foo Fighters finished things on a cathartic note. Of all the post-grunge acts out there, the Dave Grohl group clocks in with not only the best string of singles but the most creative edge, one that sees no distinction between punk and prog rock.

"I don't give a (expletive) if it's raining or not," said frontman and ex-skins-banger for Nirvana, Grohl, whose band obliterated the festival's blues with a decade of powerful hits from "This Is a Call" to "My Hero" to "All My Life."

- The Commercial Appeal

"FREE YOUR MIND: Free Sol pushes at musical and lyrical barriers"

Memphis, TN

A rising force on the local scene that leapt from sardine-packed shows at their homebase of Automatic Slim's to some of the city's most high-profile gigs, Free Sol knew what they wanted when they won a local Grammy showcase last November at the New Daisy Theatre (where they beat out six other finalists from Memphis, St. Louis, and New Orleans). "We wanted to be like Saliva!" says Christopher "Free Sol" Anderson, the frontman and namesake of the four-piece band. Saliva parlayed a win the last time the local Grammy chapter put on a regional showcase into national prominence.

It wasn't the first time Anderson had stepped onto the Daisy stage to compete in a Recording Academy event. Anderson was a member of the hip-hop act Sol Katz, which performed at an Urban Music Showcase a couple of years ago in a straightforward rap style that evoked Outkast and Goodie Mob.

"That group didn't work out," Anderson says. The roots of Free Sol were planted soon after that Sol Katz performance, with Anderson meeting drummer James "Kickman Teddy" Thomas at the Midtown Applebee's while hawking solo CDs. Over the next few months, the group filled out to its current lineup, which, in addition to Anderson and Thomas, now includes keyboardist Daniel "Premo" Dangerfield and guitarist Elliott "E-Ness" Ives.

"It's something that I thought was important, especially for hip-hop," Anderson says of his decision to form a live band. "It's our way of bringing all these different kinds of music together. And there's a certain feeling that you get from live music that you just can't get from a track. It's hip-hop, but it's live and in your face."

Doing hip-hop as a full band doesn't make Free Sol unique. After all, Philadelphia's Roots beat them to that concept by a decade. But Free Sol isn't just hip-hop. The band expands the vocabulary of hip-hop. This is how Anderson describes the sound on the relaxed, boastful "Loc'd Out," from the band's recently released debut, 11:11: "Do a lot of things but I love hip-hop/Mix it with the soul and the funk and the rock/Add a little jazz now what do you got?/Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot."

You can hear this confident mix on 11:11 songs such as "Possibility," which opens with some Steve Cropper-style guitar before giving way to punching horns. The description evokes Stax, but the result is a little softer --more '70s, more jazzlike. And that's followed a couple of tracks later by "All Night," which is aggressive enough to pass for (nü-)metal. Other ear-catching sonic departures include "To Keep From Crying," a spare piano ballad reminiscent of Prince (one of Anderson's professed musical heroes) and "Take That," which recalls Outkast's percussion detonation, "B.O.B."

But as varied as the band's musical playbook is, it all comes back to hip-hop, where Free Sol is attempting to break new ground on a local scene that has long seemed one-dimensional.

"I remember when no one listened to anything but Memphis rap," Anderson says. "If you were black in this city, you were weird if you liked not only alternative music but even East Coast rappers. I even remember when Tupac wasn't that accepted in Memphis. This city was all about Al Kapone, Three 6 Mafia, which is cool, but there was a time when that was it."

But as different as Free Sol's sound may be locally, Anderson sees plenty of kindred spirits in the scene nationally: "If Outkast wasn't around, I don't think we'd even have a shot," he confesses. "They've really opened some minds, especially for Southern hip-hop. Even people like David Banner are opening up doors all through the South. The Black-Eyed Peas with their new success. And Kanye West. This is a good time for hip-hop, and the idea that we could be a part of that feels great."

Free Sol's sound has come at the right time for a growing Memphis audience starved for something different. This new audience is responding not only to new sounds but new ideas. Though the sexually up-front tone of songs such as "No Need To Lie" and "U Damn Right" is nothing new, Anderson's willingness to take on organized religion is rare in hip-hop and R&B (Public Enemy comes to mind) and pretty much unheard of in church-heavy Memphis. But the band is pretty direct on the subject in "I Don't Give a Damn," which peaks with this lyrical attack: "Stressin' me out, with that bullshit/Fingers in my face pointing to the pulpit/And why the preacher got the bullswhip?/'Don't do this'/And on Sunday, bring the full tenth." The topical "Mr. President" links a personal experience of religious hypocrisy ("They misquoted, translated, and the preacher's misleading/They don't give to the needy/We give to the greedy/Instead of helping Ma with an extra twenty dollars/we drop it in the offering plate/The preacher poppin' collars") to America's recent global misadventures.

Anderson doesn't shy away from this controversial content. "My experience with religion is tha - Memphis Flyer


by Ken Seeber - Lifestyle Reporter
Carbondale, IL

When he was growing up in Memphis, everyone thought Christopher "Free Sol" Anderson would become a baseball star.

Free Sol's father was a baseball fanatic and part-time assistant coach who pushed his son to excel at the sport. But when he was 14, Free Sol got other ideas when he started hanging around a neighborhood kid who liked to rap.

"I was getting tired of being fussed at and getting yelled at and having to run when I got home, so I hooked up with this dude who was rapping," Free Sol said. "I just basically quit playing baseball in the middle of the season. It shocked everyone who thought that was going to be my life's whatever."

Free Sol threw himself into music with the kind of fervor his father had hoped he would have for baseball. He began learning how to create beats and how to write rhymes.

"I have no idea how when it comes," Free Sol said. "The luck that I have is the band that I put together. The music is mostly put together by Premo or Elliott."

Premo is the keyboard player and musical director of Free Sol's self-titled band, and Elliott is the lead guitarist. The four-member band is rounded out by Kickman Teddy on the drums.

"When they put music together it gives me an opportunity to create," Free Sol said. "I've always loved these different types of artists, so it challenges me. Am I going to rap this time? Am I going to sing this time?"

Free Sol, the band, is an eclectic mix of old-school soul and R&B, jazz, funk and guitar-driven rock 'n' roll. Their sound can swing from Marvin Gaye to Limp Bizkit and make the transition sound perfectly logical.

Free Sol must be doing something right. In November 2003, just nine months after forming, the band beat out 500 other bands to win first place at the Mid-South Grammy Showcase.

"It felt great," Free Sol said. "We were hoping to place, but we didn't really think we were going to win. It was good for us, because I think at that moment we really became more serious and realized that we had something together." 618-529-5454 x15078

- Flipside (Southern Illinois Univ.)


By Bill Ellis
Memphis, TN

Remember this name: Free Sol.

That was the musical group that emerged from a field of hundreds regionally to win the 2003 Mid-South Grammy Showcase.

Held at the New Daisy Theatre on Beale Street on Friday night, the event for unsigned acts - produced by the local chapter of Grammy organization the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences - drew some 600 people to see seven finalists vie for prize packages totaling more than $10,000.

Free Sol - a Memphis rapper and his band - gave the audience and a panel of nine music industry judges an eclectic, propulsive mix of rap and rock that drew on as many genres as one song could contain, from jazz to metal to Dirty South hip-hop. The eight-piece band also featured the unlikely combination of live drums, guitar and keyboards with a deejay and trombone player.

Judge Carlos Broady, a local Grammy-nominated urban producer best known for his work with P. Diddy and India.Arie, was impressed with Free Sol's energy and crowd control: "You could not deny it," he said.

The finalists were selected out of more than 400 regional submissions; two listening panels of music professionals narrowed the field.Judge Reen Nalli, an A&R (artists and repertory) executive at Universal/Motown, was impressed by the lineup."This is the hotbed," she said of the Mid-South region and its talent. "The caliber I saw tonight is unusual."

- The Commercial Appeal

"LIBERATING WIN FOR FREE SOL: Band's 'competitive spirit' pays off at prominent musical showcase in Atlanta"

By Bill Ellis
Memphis, TN

Since blasting out of the starting gate in 2003 with its Mid-South Grammy Showcase win, Memphis rap-rock amalgam Free Sol has been steadily building a name for itself the old-fashioned way: lots of touring (among this year's dates is a spot on the Austin City Limits Music Festival).

Things could soon jump to the next level, however, thanks to a prestigious first place at BMI's "Unsigned New Music Urban Showcase" in Atlanta. Picked from hundreds of submissions, the group was one of five finalists at the April 28 event, held at the eleven50 club before such star judges as Cee-Lo and Jazze Pha.

Frontman Christopher 'Free Sol' Anderson says the group wasn't intimidated playing before such big names.

"It was actually kind of cool," he says. "We had a very competitive spirit in us. We did go in there wanting to win and not wanting to come in second or third. ... And we've had the experience of playing shows that brought a lot of pressure."

Anderson notes that his band is now four for four in the competition department (they've also won contests through Turner South and the Rock Boat). And while the Memphis act didn't get any prizes per se out of the BMI challenge, the exposure was priceless.

"It was an opportunity to be seen," says Anderson, whose group needed only two songs to win: "Take That," the hyper-rhythmic highlight from last year's debut 11:11, and a new one called "Busy Watching Me."

He adds, "And we were in front of a lot of record companies. We've already received phone calls from people. Hopefully, it'll bring us a deal."

To that end, Anderson says Free Sol is working with its current label, Memphis Records, which released 11:11 and secured national distribution for the disc through high-profile indie Redeye.

These days a lean-and-mean quartet with guitarist Elliott Ives, keyboardist Daniel 'Premo' Dangerfield and drummer 'Kickman' Teddy Thomas, Free Sol has pared down its sound compared with its beginnings as a frenetic seven-piece. Anderson notes, however, that the band's trademark live energy is still in abundance.

"What I'm hearing from people is it's more focused now," he says. "It's not as all over the place. We enjoy it because the four of us have been the main writers of the group, and we've always gotten along. So lately it's been real easy."

-- Bill Ellis: 529-2517

- The Commercial Appeal

"Band to bring "Sol" to The Booth tonight"

by Ben Flanagan - Entertainment Editor
Tuscaloosa, AL

If you make it out to The Booth tonight, you'll understand why Christopher "Free Sõl" Anderson enjoys life as much as he does.

On his album "11:11," his band explores all types of traditional genres, most notably hip-hop, funk, jazz and rock, even treading in a little samba territory. What is especially unique and agreeable about Free Sõl's music on every track of this record is the instrumentation of each song.

Free Sõl (himself), the vocal and lyrical heart and soul of the band, is accompanied by some talented artists who add a defined musical element to Free Sõl (the band) that is particularly hard to find among hip-hop artists, excluding The Roots (with whom Free Sõl shares some qualities) - you know, that band that blew the roof off at the Homecoming concert last semester.

Saving the band from riding the clichéd, standard coattails of orthodox rap and R&B, on this album anyway, are guitarist Elliot "whiskE" Ives and keyboard player Daniel "Premo" Dangerfield, who both explode with range, confirming their obvious backgrounds in the deep genres of jazz and rock.

Ives' electric guitar brings an entirely new ingredient to hip-hop that should probably - and most likely, inevitably will - stay for good in this family. Just ask Wyclef Jean what kind of life a six-string can add to the party.

It's refreshing to hear hip-hop artists put more effort into the musical quotient of their own category. I've often grown weary of artists who rely on their lyrics to carry the weight of albums that choose to neglect the musical portion of their work. I suggest these particular artists (Nas) ask distributors and record stores to place their albums in bookstores' "books on tape" section. Thanks to MCs, such as Jay-Z, who care equally about how their words sound as what they say. Their mindsets seem to evoke a feeling of, "We could be doing so much more," which is always a step in the right direction.

Free's lyrics, in short, are hilarious at times. In the opening track, "No Need To Lie," he playfully examines the lighter side of sex, as he basically spends his time shouting his affection for his favorite form of recreation: "...that booty is OUTLANDISH!" This might sound a bit hollow, and in a way it is; but the rest of the album takes things into a whole different direction.

"Loc'd Out," for instance, is a jazzy, samba-sounding piece. There's also "Mr. President," a critical questionnaire aimed at the commander in chief. Opening the song are the haunting notes of Samuel Barber's "Adiago for Strings" (theme song from "Platoon"), which give listeners a mental picture of the travesty of the 9/11 terrorist attacks during Free's commentary.

Word is Free Sol's live performances are something to be remembered. You can expect both high energy and a cool atmosphere when this group hits The Booth stage.


The Memphis-based hip-hop/funk/rock group Free Sol will perform tonight at the Booth on the Strip. Some of its members will make an in-studio appearance today at 1 pm on New Rock 90.7 FM. At 4, the band will make an in-store appearance at Oz Music off of Hackberry Lane.

- The Crimson White (Univ. of Alabama)

"The Birth of Sol"

Lafayette, LA

Hip-hop grew up without the aid of instruments in block parties where DJs spun pace-altered disco and R&B records while MCs tried to out boast each other and get hands thrown in the air. Over time, it grew and eventually intersected with the original anthem of teenage rebellion - rock 'n' roll. Fast forward further and crap 'n' roll bands like Limp Bizkit capitalize on whitening the originally black sound. Meanwhile, non-rocking rappers have done well to make the genre a joke (sample a musical, anyone?). Christopher "Free Sõl" Anderson ain't no Fred Durst nor Jay-Z. His 4-piece band that bears his name brings instrumentation to hip-hop, in the spirit of The Roots, with hooky poetry reminiscent of the Jungle Brothers and, at times, with a heavy funky hand in the feel of Fishbone or 311. A touch of soul, a dash of jazz but always heavier, they could also draw comparisons to 2003 Festival International crowd-pleaser Yerba Buena. Free Sõl should fit in nicely with 307 Jazz & Blues Club's laid back cocktail table atmosphere. If its standing room only, don't despair: even the best seat in the house will be vacated when they launch, true to newer street roots, into lyrics spit hard as a nail gun and twice as sharp, while their music keeps the pace, almost reaching metal frenzy!

- The Times

"Free Sol: Hard Innovation"

by Chris Wissman
Carbondale, IL

Free Sol makes pretty wild music. The Memphis band comes across like an early Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone, or One Nation Under a Groove-era Funkadelic, but with elements of ska mixed into the heavy guitars and aggressive raps. Prince, particularly Diamonds and Pearls, is an obvious influence. One song, "Possibility," even throws slightly atonal jazz piano figures into a soul groove.

"Our music is Memphis music," says Free Sol, the group's lyricist and vocalist. Growing up in the capitol of the Mid South, Free Sol was able to run into and get to know many old-school Stax acts like David Porter of Sam and Dave fame, or Isaac Hayes. As he grew older and began to listen to hip-hop, Memphis rappers like Al Kapone and Three6Mafia attracted his attention. This mixture of local and national music all comes out in a distinctive mixture on Free Sol's debut CD, 11:11, which receives a nationwide release on RedEye Records in mid-October. The band already released the disc in their hometown, and online through their website at, which contains a few MP3s.

The band is a family, as Free Sol puts it, consisting of Free Sol on lead vocals, Daniel "Premo" Dangerfield on keyboards, James "Kickman Teddy" Thomas on drums, and Elliott "WhiskE" Ives on lead guitar. The group is not afraid to adopt some gangsta attitude - the raps are often aggressive in tone - but Free Sol is not a gangsta crew, despite a penchant for lyrics about sex and smoke, as expressed in songs like "No Need to Lie" and "Bullshit Til Paradise."

"I'm not trying to be a gangsta," Free Sol declares on "All Night," and indeed he studiously avoids overt misogyny and doesn't glorify violence in his lyrics. Two songs, however, are far more topical, and have attracted more attention than the rest. "I Don't Give a Damn" excoriates religious leaders for a parasitic relationship to their congregations. "Fingers in my face pointing to the pulpit/And why the preacher got the bullswhip? (don't do this!) /And on Sunday bring the full tenth /And there you go singing that song /Why don't you leave me alone /I'm trying to save up for a home /And you don't give nothing back /So fuck you, your offering plate, and your new Cadillac," explodes Free Sol.

Listeners may be surprised to note that much of the group lists a gospel-music background. "Gospel [music] is still a big part of my life," says Free Sol. "Of course, this is the Bible Belt, and there's like three churches on every corner.... Overall, we're very spiritual people," he continues. "My spirituality is very connected to that of a Christian. We don't really call anybody's beliefs stupid. My problem is with organized religion. It's a free-soul philosophy. We're all free-spirited, and don't want to enslave anyone [to specific dogma]."

"Mr. President," meanwhile, is a surprisingly direct, serious tune in a genre where, for example, Prince or George Clinton would hide a bit behind vagueness or absurdity. The song cites Edwin Starr's classic "War" after asking a series of pointed questions ("Yo, mr. president, sorry but I'm really confused /Could you tell me why the hell there ain't no money for schools? /Especially schools that happen to be in black neighborhoods.... And mr. president, man, can you please explain /The real truth behind Osama and Saddam Hussein?... Mr. president how do you find peace through war /Don't that go against everything we fighting for?").

"I wasn't really trying to be political," says Free Sol. "It's just, to be alive in the world, to be an American in these times, you can't help but have an opinion. I just write my opinion. I don't really take political stands. I'm just kind of against big groups. I don't really consider myself a Democrat or Republican - or a Christian or a Muslim."

Reaction to these songs has not been hostile, says Free Sol. "More so than offend them, ['I Don't Give a Damn' and 'Mr. President'] raises eyebrows. They want to come up and ask questions afterward and talk about it." Mostly, though, the songs are about "having a good time," says Free Sol. "People seem to relate to what I'm saying. You just try to relate to the fans, relate to the audience, inspiring cats. You got to keep hip-hop alive."



2002 Free Sõl : Free Sõl
2003 Free Sõl : Sex Love & Hip Hop vol. 1 (Mixtape)
2004 Free Sõl : 11:11
2005 Free Sõl : The Thread Between


Feeling a bit camera shy



“Free Sõl” is a state of mind. It is a freedom of expression. And the musicians that make up this eclectic mix are the perfect embodiment of that expression. Led by Christopher "Free Sõl" Anderson, the Memphis-born quartet was organized in the fall of 2002. After winning the Mid-South GRAMMY Showcase the following year, the band quickly solidified themselves as one of the most original and impactful collectives around by honing their already “killer” sound and then taking the show on the road. They have since played more than 300 shows across the country. Yet they have achieved marked success not only through a lot of hard work, but more importantly because of their keen ability to blend elements of rock, hip-hop, funk, jazz, and soul in a way that has rarely been witnessed! Free Sõl will undoubtedly be regarded as one of the great new bands that are helping to usher in the next wave of popular music. But their ultimate goal is to continue making music that allows one to listen, question, agree, disagree, and find deeper meaning through the fusion of great artistry and high-energy performances.

And speaking of performances, on stage, Free Sõl has a presence that is simply intoxicating! It is no wonder the band has already performed at some of the best venues and festivals in the country: Beale Street Music Festival (Memphis, TN), The Milwaukee Summerfest (Milwaukee, WI), The Rock Boat “Floating Music Festival" (Carnival cruise from Miami, FL to Cozumel, Mexico), Tipitina’s (New Orleans, LA), and the Fox Theatre (Boulder, CO), just to name a few. Plus, Free Sõl has had the wonderful opportunity to share the stage with acts like Isaac Hayes, Erykah Badu, Justin Timberlake, Digital Underground, The Wailers, Marc Broussard, T.I., Van Hunt, Talib Kweli, the Foo Fighters, and many others! And rest assured, they’ve held their own each and every time!! Make no mistake, Free Sõl is the next big thing in music!!!

*For more info, please visit the official band website or check us out on Myspace....


"A modern day hip-hop Marvin Gaye"
- David Porter, Producer, Songwritter

"The best band out of Memphis in years!"
- Isaac Hayes

"You can not deny them"
- Carlos Broady, Producer

"Free Sõl is one of the best up & coming talents this city has to offer.”
- Rey Flemings, President, Memphis Music Commission

"I am amazed by the band's show and professionalism."
- Mike Smith, GM / Talent Buyer, Young Avenue Deli (Memphis, TN)

"The most energetic collision of cultures since…that Elvis dude!"
- Bill Ellis, Music Columnist, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)