“Okay its Rockie checking in, I’m loving what I got, I’m about to run the game until this muh’fucker drops..” – Rockie Fresh, “Never Never”
Rockie Fresh has taken his career to new heights in the past year, thanks in large part to a sick flow and unstoppable grind. Hailing from Chicago, an area currently buzzing for its gritty “drill music” scene, Rockie hangs his hat on blending innovative lyricism with futurisitc production.
He must be on to something, as both fans and labels flocked to his movement throughout 2012, ultimately leading to his current deal with Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group. Speaking with @MechanicalDummy, MMG’s Young G shared his feelings on signing with Maybach, synergizing alternative sounds with his classic Hip Hop background and crafting his latest project Electric Highway, which has gotten love from fans and critics since dropping in January 2013.
— Christian Mordi @mordi_thecomeup
Mechanical Dummy: Who is Rockie Fresh?
Rockie Fresh: Rockie Fresh is a 21-year-old artist out of Chicago. Newest and youngest member of Maybach Music Group.
MD: How did Chicago mold you into the artist you are today?
RF: A big part of my music is the ability for fans to be able to relate to it, while meshing the different genres that I add. That really comes from growing up in Chicago. I got to meet so many different type of people. I have friends that live the gang life. I have friends who live the punk rock life. I went to school with people who only listened to R&B. My parents really only listen to gospel. When I make music, I try to take into consideration everyone I come across.
MD: How did you try to push the envelope creatively with Electric Highway?
RF: I feel like I have pushed the limit more than I ever have before with this new project. Many are so far from standard hip-hop records. I wanted to ease a couple people into that that I knew may criticize my differences in my soundwith the single I released first. I went to another level with this and musically it sounds better than it ever did before because of the resources I have now with being a signed artist.
MD: We can hear the alternative rock influence in your music at times. Who do you listen to in that genre?
RF: Well I was a big fan of Fallout Boy’s, Patrick Stump is one of my homies. Same thing with Good Charlotte. Those are people I (was) in the studio with when I was creating “Electric Highway.” Even though the songs we did are not on the project, it got me in the mindset of creating that type of quality music. On those songs with an alternative vibe, I gave my fans 100% of me, no feature. I wanted to make people accept me jumping into that realm alone. (It’s) something I wanted to do. Also, I wanted people to see that this was inspired by basically a black man’s interpretation of that type of music. This is my style on it. Salute to those dudes for helping me go in that direction.
MD: How did the relationship with Patrick Stump come to pass, and how has working with him been for your creative process?
RF: Well the thing with Patrick is I dropped this mixtape called “The Otherside.” He saw it on a blog– he is a hip-hop fan– and checked it out. He hit me up on twitter, and I went out to LA and we worked. One thing that I respected about the way Patrick does things, is he is all about being as real as he can with his music. That’s why he doesn’t put out too much, cause a lot of his ideas and the way he is feeling I don’t think a lot of people are ready for that right now. What’s special is the way he moves off the music; straight emotion. That influenced me with this project because with Electric Highway, I didn’t write any of the records. I chose each record because it gave me instant lyrics, flow patterns. The vibes I wanted the song to be about came to life right when I heard the beat. After catching that vibe, rather than going to a pen or a pad, I went straight to the booth and started recording off of raw emotion and being in-tuned. A lot of that comes from being at Patrick’s crib and seeing him sing powerful lyrics straight off top.
MD: It’s booming out there right now on the Chicago Hip Hop scene. What is so special about your city right now?
RF: I just think the game is always looking for new faces and new perspectives. I also think it’s due to the lifestyle we live here in Chicago, the stuff we have going on here. We are the spokespeople for a city that many are paying attention to, for (both) negative or positive reasons. We are the voice of what is going on in the city. All the people (who are popping) still live in the city if I am correct. King Louie does, Sasha does, YP does, and I do as well. You getting what we see on a day-to-day basis in our lives. When you have music that is that raw and real, people gravitate to it.
MD: When you hear how the media sometimes portrays people like Chief Keef in a negative light, what do you think?
RF: I think that is one side of it, but I think now everyone understands how bad it could be. I also don’t think people put enough pressure on the government. Chief Keef is a young dude, same thing with JoJo; we are all super young. We have a lot of responsibility in our hands and it takes the proper training to be able to handle that. You cant expect an 18 or 19 year old to know what to do when a million people are watching his moves. He has just come from a super rough situation. I feel like a lot of the old heads need to start playing they role as well. Also, if the government wants to see things change in Chicago for the better, I am sure there are certain things they can put in place to protect the kids more. I want people to start looking at that more than they do the movements of a 19 year old rapper. You know this stuff has been going on before any of us even had deals. None of us have been signed for a year. All of the sudden for the blame to be the rap music doesn’t make sense.
MD: Tell us a little bit behind the signing with MMG. Is it true you were nearly a member of Bad Boy?
RF: Yeah Puff reached out. Puff and I got real cool during the process. My decision with Maybach Music was more about the way me and Ross were able to connect. He understood my sound. He is such a different artist to me. I think him being so unorthodox, is why this is a good situation for me to grow. I like to shake things up and the situation was perfect for me to do that. The deal was exactly what I wanted. It turned out to be a beautiful situation. Salute to Diddy, and I hope to do work with him in the future.
MD: How important was it for you to get a major label behind you while still maintaining the creative control of an indie artist?
RF: Honestly, after putting out “Driving 88,” I didn’t know if that was going to be possible. At the time I didn’t care though. I watched guys like Mac Miller and Curren$y have these fan bases that allow them to be able to take care of their families and do as they please with their lives. Before that I signed with these A&R’s and was in a real nasty legal situation. I got an offer and was unable to sign it due to being bound up in that contract, so I kind of washed out the possibility of me being able to sign to a major. When the Ross situation came about, and all the ways he was willing to work it out for me, he made things smoother so I can be able to do what I needed to do as an artist. That’s when it became possible in my eyes to be a signed artist and be able to make the type of music I like.
MD: How are you able to use your music to touch people and spark hope for them and the future of music?
RF: I think it is very important because I think it’s a way that I can contribute to making Chicago better. There is nothing better I can do than leading by example. I want to present people with a different way to look at things. If you listen to my music, you will get a totally different perspective on how I view Chicago and (what) I think the best way is to navigate through it. It is important to me to keep young people on the right track. I want to see other young people be successful. I want to show people a positive way to reach their dreams, in a cool way. I plan on buying whips and chains and all of those things, but it won’t come through an extra street mentality. I don’t want people doing things they shouldn’t be doing, and I feel like if I set that example maybe some young people will follow that path.
MD: You just came off the Electric highway tour, but went on record to say performing in Chicago was a defining moment for you in your career.
RF: Selling out the Metro, a venue I always respect in Chicago, meant a lot to me. It was also my mom’s first time ever seeing me perform. I had no idea she was even going to be there. To look up and see my mom at a sold out show, meant a lot to me. Crazy moment.
MD: Was she impressed?
RF: Yeah she said she was, and I was surprised because I be cussin’ like a sailor out there. For her to not look at that and just look at the fans response and the vibe of the performance, was really dope for me.
MD: Despite the fact you have new resources on deck thanks to MMG, how important is it to still work with the same producers that helped cultivate your sound?
RF: It was really important to me, that why I had my producer Gift add extra stuff to every record that I got. To give the project a cohesive feel. I want to give people that Rockie Fresh futuristic vibe on each track. It was also easy for me to do that because Ross had a respect for that sound. Knowing that, I just wanted to expand on that and just make it more mature.
MD: How did you link with TNGHT member Lunice for “Superman OG?”
RF: Lunice actually came out and did the opening DJ set for the last stretch of my tour. We used to ride in the same vehicle together, and we used to vibe out. I have a lot of respect for him, as a man first. Then he began to play me his beats, I was like this is the type of dude I need to be working with. It has been rare for me to find young people that have been about pushing the limit. His energy and the sounds he uses are perfect for my vibe.
MD: How would you like to be remembered?
RF: I would like to be remembered as someone who put out classic bodies of work. Also as someone who serves a positive purpose to society with his music. I want people to be motivated and inspired by my work.