By MIKE CHAIKEN
As soon as the sampled guitars crunch, if you lived through the 1990s, the track was instantly recognizable.
And the moment, Freedom Williams starts rapping, “Here is the doe, back with the bass/ The jam is live in effect and I don’t waste time,” you just know you’ve dived into C+C Music Factory’s classic dance track, “Gonna Make You Sweat.”
That album set up a hit juggernaut that continued with the group’s “Things That Make You Go Hmm.”
C+C Music Factory is no more. But Freedom Williams is still out on the road, evoking the spirit of the 1990s. He comes to the Mohegan Sun Friday night at 8 p.m. with a bevy of hitmakers from the 1990s, including En Vogue and Wilson Phillips.
Freedom was no stranger to the brains of C+C Music Factory- David Cole and Robert Clivillés when “Gonna Make You Sweat” blew up radio and MTV. He explained in a phone interview from Brooklyn that he already had been working with the pair on the technical side of recording, engineering records by Grace Jones, Seduction, Natalie Cole, and Paul Schaffer among others. He said he also had been writing songs with David and Robert.
When the album “Gonna Make You Sweat” began germinating between David, Robert, and himself, Freedom said the original idea was the record would be his solo effort.
“Gonna Make You Sweat,” the single, began as a basic drum pattern, said Freedom. And Freedom, David, and Robert felt that the beat was “hot.” But the track as it stood didn’t quite cut it. The song was much more political, said Freedom. So, keeping the drum pattern, Freedom went back and began the process of retooling it.
Writing the song was not with its travails, explained Freedom. Despite working with Robert and David, he said was homeless at the time and living in an abandoned building. He had to write the song by the light of a candle perched inside a Snapple bottle.
But when “Gonna Make It Sweat” was finished, the track—now credited to C+C Music Factory—became one of the iconic tunes of the 1990s.
Freedom said that when he recorded the track he didn’t think that people would be still talking about it in 2015. Truth be told, he said, he wasn’t really crazy about the track originally. (Although he finally grew to love it about seven years ago.) He liked the album of the same name by C+C Music Factory, but mostly because he was on it.
For Freedom, there were a lot of other artists he preferred over his own effort. Rob Bass was a favorite, for instance. He also cited The Prodigy, Run DMC (he went to school with those guys), Metallica, and Billy Joel as favorites of the time.
Although “Gonna Make You Sweat” is associated with the 1990s, Freedom said he is much more of a fan of the music of the 1980s. He said he was in heaven recently when he was able to do a show with Marc Almond, who was in Soft Cell (“Tainted Love”), and Culture Club with Boy George (“Do You Really Want To Hurt Me”). He said he loves artists like Michael Jackson, Duran Duran, Madonna, Foreigner, and Journey.
“I’m an ‘80s baby, for real,” said Freedom.
(When he met Culture Club’s bassist Mikey Craig, Craig told Freedom that he was a fan of his. “I was bugging out,” said Freedom, telling Culture Club’s bassist, “You’re tripping.”)
Freedom said he began rapping in 1978. And by the 1980s, he said, “I was immersed in MTV and the entire scene.” At that point, he said he wasn’t sure music would be his career. But when he saw Michael Jackson perform “Billie Jean” on the Motown 25th television anniversary special in 1983, “I knew what I wanted to do.”
Freedom said he often runs into fans who tell him how much his songs meant to them. And he said he gets it.
“Sting’s ‘Dream of the Blue Turtles’ carried me through depression and kept me sane,” said Freedom, “certain songs, certain albums” have that power.
As for what he is up to these days, Freedom said he is on the road a lot performing. But he said he will be releasing new music, first a single in the coming months, and then a full album in March. Additionally, he has his own record label, he is producing other artists, and making films.
“I’m doing a lot of entertainment stuff,” he said.
As for the Mohegan Sun Arena show, Freedom said, “I give a lot of energy.” He said there is a lot of dancing and a lot of movement. “It’s a really good time.”
The Best of 90s Concert featuring Boyz II Men, Wilson Phillips, En Vogue, Coolio, Freedom Williams of C+C Music Factory, and Shock G of Digital Underground, hosted by Ed Lover will be held Friday, Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville. Tickets are $35. For more information, go to MoheganSun.com
By MIKE CHAIKEN