Rapper Freedom Williams is best remembered as the male voice of the massive 1990 hit dance track Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) with C+C Music Factory. That song has grown through the decades and has connected with music fans every decade.
Freedom will be part of Bluesfest Windsor on July 5. He checked in with 519 to chat about his career and the memories of Gonna Make You Sweat.
It’s getting close to 30 years for all those C and C Music Factory hits. Has it really been that long?
It doesn’t feel like 30 years because when you go to bed and wake up, your body’s rejuvenated. You don’t really think about what you did last week or last month because God put the forgetful thing in your head like a woman who had the baby. She always forgets the pain and has another one and then another one and every time she has one she said she would never do it again. Well memories are the same way. Time is the same way – it doesn’t really impact you as long as you stay healthy and you stay happy. You don’t really think about it.
There was a time when Gonna Make You Sweat wasn’t as cool as it is today, but somehow people realized that a great song is still a great song.
Sometimes records have a tendency to come back in a different capacity than they were the first time, because when something is very new you’re still critiquing it. When it stands the test of time, then you’re appreciating it. So that’s what we’re doing now.
I remember the episode of King of Queens with Kevin James when he meets his wife – it’s 20 years earlier and they’re standing in front of a club and they play the whole version of Gonna Make You Sweat. He’s got that funny haircut from back in the 80s and then in the 90s they’re meeting each other. That’s what certain song does; it can remind you of a particular time in your life. So, when you first hear a song you’re looking at it new and fresh and then over time, it turns into appreciation. This is a song that’s just stands the test of time.
What inspired the rap lyrics in the song?
Originally there were two versions and one was all politics. So when I wrote Sweat, it was a little bit more current of the day of what was going on in the hood. I tweaked it, I didn’t know if I liked the tone with the beat, so I wrote it again. By the third time I just started repeating myself with stuff like “dance ‘till you can’t dance ‘till you can’t dance no more”. I was like okay, I’ve run out of things to say. I just started repeating myself, so I had to break it up with “jump to the rhythm jump jump to the rhythm jump”.
At the time I was also homeless. I was just staying from place to place with some friends. I just wanted a hit record at that point.
When did rap find you and do you remember the first rap you ever heard?
I don’t remember but it was probably a mixed tape by Mathematical 5 from Queens, Double Trouble from Uptown, the Koch brothers from Harlem and mix tapes like that. There was a guy that was able with the turntable by the name of MC Cartwright, in 1976 when I was a kid – he was dope. In 1978 when I was in the sixth or seventh grade, I knew this guy named Chris who would have school in Hollis where Run DMC was from and went to high school with them. I started rhyming with my man Chris in the sixth grade. In the fifth grade I was paying attention to it, but it really was in junior high school when I started travel to school at the back of the bus.
There was a lot of controversy over the trademark for C+C Music Factory a couple years ago, but really, you’re still out there living it, so it makes sense.
Rob (Clivillés) was saying that I didn’t have the right to trademark it, but when he quit the business – and he admitted that he quit – he was harassing me for doing the shows. He was telling me that he was never on the road with me and that he would only do the MTV awards and then go home. He never toured and never DJ’d for me, so why do I have to give him half my money. Most producers don’t take a cut of the artists. Dr. Dre don’t take Snoop’s cut or Tupac’s cut, but he always thought that he was entitled. When I was touring as C&C, he was trying to sue the agency and advise us that we couldn’t use the name, so I trademarked it. I was already the only one representing, so that’s when he got upset, but there’s nothing he can do about it at this point.
C+C Music Factory is part of a 90s music celebration at Bluesfest Windsor with Vanilla Ice, 2 Live Crew, C+C Music Factory, Tone Loc, Young MC and DJ Scorpion on July 5. Bluesfest Windsor takes place at Riverfront Festival Plaza July 5 and 6 and July 12 and 13. Visit bluesfestwindsor.com for more information.