Last night, just before a surprise performance at the New York City barbecue restaurant Southern Hospitality (where he's part-owner), Justin Timberlake introduced FreeSol, the group responsible for the latest release on Timberlake's Tennman Record label.
"I would describe their sound as a fusion of rock, hip-hop, rhythm and blues, and soul. It's Memphis," Timberlake, a Tennessee native, told Rolling Stone. "When I made super pop music, some urban people said, 'I don't listen to that shit, but if I did I'd like these songs.' Now it's okay to like everything."
FreeSol formed in 2003 after lead MC Chris "Free" Anderson met guitarist Elliot Ives. The pair recruited drummer "Kickman" Teddy, DJ Charlie White and pianist "Premo" D'Anger and began recording in Memphis, their hometown. While playing frat parties, weddings and clubs, the group caught Timberlake's ear. In 2007 FreeSol signed with the former N'Sync member's fledgling label, which is distributed by Interscope Records, and began identifying a creative direction all members could agree upon.
"It took us three years to get from the stage to the studio," Free says.
Their influences range from Three 6 Mafia to the late Isaac Hayes – who often provided some much-needed inspiration. "Every time he saw us, he'd say, 'You guys are some bad motherfuckers,'" Teddy recalls.
Timberlake directed the group's clip "Hoodies On, Hats Low" (watch below), along with Aaron Platt and Jospeh Toman, and says there is one more video coming soon.
"We did three videos in three days. We have one on reserve called 'Role Model,'" Timberlake says. He debuted the video for press last night, and in the black-and-white clip, Timberlake raps, "Did I take it too far? Superbowl," in a speed rivaling Yelawolf, as a model reveals her breasts. "Don't Give it Away," the group's first single, recently aired on HBO's Entourage and manager Nick Shuly says a video for that song is also in the works.