When model Jessica Gomes says “Maybach Music,” at the beginning of an MMG track, there is a certain expectation as far as quality of music. While Rick Ross himself represents a specific brand of music, his signings have been quite diverse. Maybach Music Group has become a home for a varied group of artists, in which, Ross has allowed said artists to continue to make the type of music which got them attention to begin with. Those not in the know about what’s the next big thing in Hip Hop need look no further than the Maybach Music Group roster, the newest addition to this roster, being Chicago’s Rockie Fresh.
Chicago has been a hotbed for Hip Hop talent, going back to artists like Common and Twista. Recently, there have been other huge success stories from the Windy City, like Kanye West, and Lupe Fiasco, but Rockie Fresh is a part of an even younger breed of Chicagoan’s, influenced by those before them, but bringing something completely different to the table. Coming with his own brand of Hip Hop with a heavy alternative influence. Rockie is attempting to not just bring something new to Chicago or MMG, but to the game as a whole. Fresh off his the release of his “Birthday Tape,” Rockie took time out to talk with HipHopDX about his most recent project, alternative music, Derrick Rose, and MMG among other things.
Rockie Fresh On The “Futuristic Vibe” He Brings To MMG
HipHopDX: How do you so far feel about the response you’ve been getting from “The Birthday Tape?”
Rockie Fresh: It’s real cool, man. I just wanted to put out something to celebrate life. My birthday was last week, and I was doing a bunch of shows, so I couldn’t get the tape out on the day of my birthday. People took to it even better than I expected them to. It wasn’t meant to be nothing too crazy, but people are definitely rocking with it, so I’m happy.
DX: I was wondering what was the reason for dropping the tape, because you just dropped a tape in January. This is your second release since you’ve been connected to MMG, correct?
Rockie Fresh: Yeah.
DX: What do you feel you bring to MMG, and what does MMG do specifically for you and the brand that you’re representing?
Rockie Fresh: I think people have to realize that most of us rappers are fans. We come from certain places, and we have certain things that make us original. Many times, we still are fans of people that are completely opposite of ourselves. Ross is much older than me, and his lifestyle is different than mine. But in high school, me and my homies used to ride around listening to his album all the time when he first came out. I have respect for him as an artist. When I met him, he was already familiar with my mixtape, Driving 88, which is something I made before I met him. He was naming certain songs that he respected off that project, and why he liked them. He has an appreciation for the same type of music I do. When we linked up, it was more so about bringing out the different type of things we appreciated about each other’s music more to the forefront when we work together. I feel like the songs we did—like “Life Long” and “Panera Bread”—it gives more of a futuristic vibe to some of the stuff he’s rapped on. But it also gives me a more upbeat feel than some of the songs I’ve already done. It also forces me to come from a more mature place, because I know that I’m competing verse for verse with one of the best artists in the game. It really drives me to a different level, and I think when I do songs with guys from the camp, it takes their sound to more of a futuristic, Rock type of vibe. It works out pretty cool.
DX: You speak on listening to Ross in high school. You being one of the youngest members of MMG, when was it that you knew Rap was your lane?
Rockie Fresh: For me, it was trial and error. I put out a few songs on my MySpace, and people were saying that they were dope, but I didn’t really get too much shine off of it. At one point—I don’t know what it was—I had this song on there, it was a self-titled joint. Something motivated me to put it out, and it got picked up by FakeShoreDrive. That was my first time being on that website. It got a whole lot of attention, and when I saw that, it inspired me to put out a mixtape. I put out the mixtape and did a sold out show in Chicago. From that point on, I just felt like I had such a support system in the city, and people that was expecting me to do something with it, it had to be meant to be. So I started running with it.
DX: Originally there was Common, and you guys had Twista, Crucial Conflict, things of that nature…now you guys have a real varied scene. You have yourself, Lupe, Chief Keef; you still have Common and Twista. How do you feel about the Chicago Hip Hop scene right now?
Rockie Fresh: I feel like it’s dope...the representation of all parts of the city. With that, it makes people realize how diverse it really is with all of these different artists coexisting in the same place. It shows you in one way how segregated Chicago is, but then it shows you all the city has to offer, ‘cause it’s coming from all different areas. It’s getting national attention that we all bring something different to the table. I think its super dope, and also, the fact that we’re real young, this can play out in a real amazing way if everybody focuses on what they need to do and keep a cool head. We can really put the city in a place that nobody has ever seen it before. I don’t really know of a time where it was this many young people popping at one time. I’m liking what it is right now, and I want to see it branch out more.
Rockie Fresh’s Relationship With Casey Veggies & His Puma Deal
DX: Speaking of young people, you and Casey Veggies have linked up a couple times. How exactly did you guys link up to begin with, and what’s that like?
Rockie Fresh: Casey is like my brother now. Basically, we started working together because of my homie BrandUn DeShay. He used to be in Odd Future; he’s from Chicago, and they had a relationship. BrandUn was working on a mixtape, so he put me and Casey on the same song. I thought Casey’s verse was super dope, and we started talking on the Internet just out of respect for each other’s sound. Then when I went out to LA for the first time, he got in the studio with me, we did “Duckin N Dodgin’.” And after that, every time I went out to LA, we would work. We shot the “Duckin’ N Dodgin” video, we both some young playas, and we relate on a lot of stuff. So that’s my homie. I love to see him win and do the things he do.
DX: Staying on the topic of you being one of the youngest in the game, how does it feel working with your fellow MMG members, being the young guy?
Rockie Fresh: For me, I’ve been around older people all my life. From me being in those types of settings, I feel right at home. I work out of the same mindset, if not, from a more hungry mindset, knowing the plateau that it’s on now. I used to drop songs for barely nobody at one point. Knowing where my fan base came from, to the point it’s at right now—and knowing where those guys, Wale, Meek [Mill], Ross, and Stalley are at—it takes me to a whole ‘nother level. I mostly be in the studio with Ross more than anybody, and that gives me the confidence to be around anybody. Like I said, he’s one of the top in the game, and he’s been getting recognized for that the last few years. So for me to be able to get on records with him, I feel like I can do anything with anybody.
DX: You’ve been dropping g a pretty good amount of content, are you working on your retail album?
Rockie Fresh: I’m definitely getting started on that. Going back to being a fan of the game, I watch somebody like Lil Wayne drop tons of mixtapes, not because he was trying to oversaturate, but because he really loves making music that much. It was that much of a lifestyle to him that he could provide people with tons of free music while he’s perfecting his album, and that’s kind of my plan right now. I’m gonna be working on my album, and I really want people to get a classic project from me—like nothing they ever heard before. With that being said, with the Internet, and artists coming out every day, I want to give music to always stay on people’s mind…always drop quality stuff. Me being as young as I am, I feel I could always be making music, dropping stuff, and still have a cold album. So that’s pretty much my game plan.
DX: So with the music you’ve been dropping you’ve been gaining a lot of attention. I see you have a deal with Puma, what’s that all about?
Rockie Fresh: Puma just really had respect for my swag, and I definitely have respect for them as a brand. I had Pumas back when I was in high school, and I still copped a lot of the stuff they dropped before we decided to go in on this partnership. It’s just a respect thing on both ends, and they’ve showed me a lot of love. We’re getting ready to do some real cool stuff, so I advise people to stay tuned. It’s gonna be a real classy situation.
How Alt/Rock Music Influences Rockie Fresh
DX: A lot of times Hip Hop is labeled as materialistic, and those labeling it will miss maybe the story of how to obtain these things. Do you ever get worried that your message may be lost on the listener?
Rockie Fresh: I feel like it’s more about me being at the age of 17—when I started trying my hand at this Rap thing—and all the things that I’ve seen. I know for a fact that the average 17 to 22 year old hasn’t seen the things that I’ve seen, so I can speak on some of the things I can speak on. With that, I just put my message in there so that somebody younger than me can get it. I always had a different appreciation for a different kind of music than my peers, but at the same time, they need dope content, and need certain stuff to be able to relate to that.
Even before signing to MMG, I found a way to get my message across in a way that I want to, and to do it with the sound that I want to do it with. The reason why I signed with them is because Ross respected that and gave me the platform to do it. Now I’m at a place where what I put out, and the way that I put it out, I already understand how it’s gonna go over. I think that on the back end, the thing with Rap, rappers gotta utilize their visuals to tell the story that they want to and go deeper into it. [You have to] bring that song out in a way where people want to see it. As far as the content, you really just have to speak how you feel and let people take it the way that they want to take it.
DX: As far as your sound, you have a real alternative vibe...that’s what it’s often referred to as. As someone who’s a fan of alternative music, what would you recommend for a Hip Hop fan?
Rockie Fresh: It really depends on what type of Hip Hop you like. If you like chill Hip Hop, listen to somebody like John Mayer, or somebody in that lane. Coldplay would be good. I think Coldplay all around is a good sound for most people. That would be my first suggestion.
DX: On your Driving 88 tape, you had a song, “Twenties,” and it used a specific sample…how did you feel the first time you heard Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe?” I know it’s not the first time where artists have rapped over the same sample, and I know that actually that’s not the first time that sample has been used. But how did you feel when you heard that song?
Rockie Fresh: Dude is creative. He’s definitely one of the best lyricists of the young dudes out right now. So when I heard it, I realized he did something totally different on the record than I did. He used a totally different flow, and I just respected it for what it was. I would never make a problem out of somebody using the same sample. I remember when Common and Lil Wayne both used the “Misunderstood” sample, and I liked both of their records. I feel like as an artist, I can stand on my own two when I use certain things. I feel “Twenties” served its purpose, and his record served its purpose too
DX: Who else are you feeling in the game right now?
Rockie Fresh: Definitely Casey. I feel like Lil Durk got some dope music...pretty much all the MMG guys, anything Chicago or MMG and the homie Casey.
DX: Being from Chicago, how did you feel about the whole Derrick Rose situation with him not playing?
Rockie Fresh: That was tough for us all when he went down. At the same time, I definitely want dude to get better, but he’s young. When we get him back, he’s still gonna be the same Derrick Rose, MVP that we all love. And I feel that’s the most important thing—that he get back healthy—so he can get back on his grind so we can get the rings.
DX: Why do you feel Chicago is being viewed in the way it’s being viewed now, as far as the violence goes? I know you’re young, but Chicago has been Chicago. This isn’t really anything new. Why do you think it gets the look it gets now as far as the violence?
Rockie Fresh: I think it’s just the Internet. People are entertained by that kind of stuff; they always have been. Now that stuff can be viewed on YouTube, and it can be viewed on Twitter, as far as kids going back and forth with each other. I feel like we have some of the realest young dudes out, and with that, they’re staying true to where they come from. A lot of the guys in the Chicago scene, we’re under 25; some of us are under 23. We still have a lot of learning to be done. The world isn’t recognizing that, and with that, you’re gonna see certain things that normally you wouldn’t see if it wasn’t for the Internet being the way that it is. We got the spotlight on us, because it’s easy to watch. And for other people, it’s fun to see...it’s entertaining. They give it the attention, so obviously it’s gonna blow up.
DX: As people sit there and listen to The Birthday Tape, and they still listen to Electric Highway and Driving 88, what’s going down in the near future with you?
Rockie Fresh: I’m definitely getting ready to drop a lot of videos, and I’m definitely putting them together in a real creative way. We already did a real private movie screening for the Electric Highway project, and I kind of want to take that to the next level with a lot of the music videos I’m gonna be dropping this summer. So you can expect pretty much videos from songs off the Electric Highway and the Birthday Tape. Also, a lot of singles, me and the MMG guys are doing a lot of work together, so you’re gonna hear some brand new collabs with people that you never heard me work with before. And later on, maybe we’ll drop some hints about that album. It’s gonna be a real fun run, and I can’t forget about the stuff I got coming with Puma. It’s gonna be a lot to look forward to if you’re following my situation.