By Stephanie Amy Collazo
Rockie Fresh is an up-and-coming artist out of the Midwest who is quickly becoming your next favorite rapper. At 20-years-old he has already toured nationally with Patrick Stump, has had his music featured on the CW’s Nikita and was named one of the “25 Hottest Artists Under 25” by Metromix. While getting ready to promote his newly released mixtape, Driving 88, Rockie took some time out to talk to us about XXL’s 2012 Freshman cover, his new album and the future.
YRB: How did you get your start in music?
Rockie: I started rapping for fun, just freestyle battling at school, and then when my friends started telling me I was dope, I took it a bit more seriously. That’s when I met my managers (who I went to high school with). We made the first mixtape and started putting out material, and it all just went naturally from there.
YRB: What artists do you draw the most inspiration from?
Rockie: Jay Z, Lil Wayne, John Mayer, and yeah, that’s about it.
YRB: What is hip-hop to you?
Rockie: Hip-hop to me is a real expression of how someone is feeling. The difference between hip-hop and rap is the honesty, the lack of lies and the lack of fabrication. To me hip-hop is any kind of rap that has truth to it.
YRB: How does the Chicago hip-hop scene differ from other cities you’ve done shows in?
Rockie: It differs because it’s a real tough place where a lot of people don’t make it out. You can count the Chicago rappers that are known in the world on one hand basically, so because of that, it’s a struggle to get yourself known and respected as a real artist. Also, because there are so many people that don’t make it there’s a lot of, for lack of a better term, hating that goes on, but it also turns out to be good because it makes you a stronger person. And when you do go to different places it makes you appreciate the love that they give you more, you know, versus disrespecting it because where we come from it doesn’t happen that way.
YRB: You were up against some stiff competition for the XXL 2012 Freshman cover, if you weren’t to win who are you backing?
Rockie: If I were not to win, I definitely want to see Casey Veggies on there, Action Bronson.
YRB: Speaking of the XXL Freshman cover competition, one of your competitors is brandUn DeShay, who is also from Chicago, wasn’t there talk between a possible mixtape collaboration? What happened with that?
Rockie: We were planning on doing a mixtape together. We did some records for it. brandUn is definitely a homie of mine; it’s just that with us both being all over the place we just really didn’t have time to just sit down and get the project done. That’s still in the cards; that’s still my homie.
YRB: On your previous project, The Otherside, production team The Cartoonz handled all the music. For Driving 88 did you keep it in-house with them, or did you venture out with other beat makers?
Rockie: The Gift & LP (Cartoonz) laid a lot of the groundwork for the new project, but this time we added in some more producers as well, like The Kickdrums, Blended Babies and others. The project was recorded all over the country, so it was a process of meeting new people and really collaborating with like-minded musicians that understood the vision and wanted to help bring it to life.