Even though he wasn’t born until the decade after Back to the Future came out, Rockie Fresh still rocks a DeLorean in his videos and even sports a pair of Nike Air Mags AKA the Marty McFlys. Fitting considering he acts much more maturely than his 21 years of age would have you believe.
His rhymes are often of the standard braggadocios fare as many other rappers, but there’s wisdom about him in interviews. He often says he’s not here to floss or act like a super star. He wants to reach people and bridge different genres and demographics with his unique sound that was cultivated from initially performing with alt rock bands like Good Charlotte and Fall Out Boy. He listened to Jay-Z growing up, but he also spent a lot of time in the crib exploring different sounds and artists that didn’t fall under the rap umbrella. As a result, he’s developed a sound Diddy wanted to recruit for Bad Boy and Rick Ross wanted to bring to Maybach Music. Ultimately he went with Rick Ross. Now, with his third mixtape due out on January 21st, Rockie has arrived in New York to screen some visuals and rock some shows. We sat down with him to discuss his fairly immediate success as well as why he chose Ricky over Diddy and how he feels about the violence in his hometown of Chicago.
– The Maybach Difference: How Wale, Meek Mill, and Rick Ross Overcame Early Failure To Find Success
– Meek Mill – 40/40 Club – 9/26/2012
So how’d you start rapping, Rockie?
I was listening to Lupe Fiasco, Kanye, Jay… I loved how they talked about their real lives and made it into good music. But they’re much older than me for the most part so I felt my generation needed someone to break it down for us and talk about the things we can relate to. So I started messing around with it and friends told me I was dope so I started taking more seriously.
Was there a moment you remember that made you really take it seriously?Yeah, definitely. My first show sold out. It was in Chicago at Reggie’s Rock Club. Capacity is 500 people and it was was packed to capacity. We weren’t expecting such a turn out. We ended up having to turn away 250 people. No one my age had a sold out show. When I saw them support so much it made me want to keep doing it and take it even further.
How’d you link with MMG/Rick Ross?
I linked with Ross after I dropped my mixtape Driving 88. The video “Into The Future” didn’t get as many views as I thought it would. Spiff TV’s Spiff, who is like the main dude behind MMG visuals, he saw the video and played it for Ross. Ross saw it once and wanted to sign me. So he listened to more of my work and when he liked it he flew me out to LA. We met in his hotel and talked about real man type stuff. We related to one another and worked out the business and now I’m MMG.
Most people would have had a Lambo in their video. Why’d you choose a DeLorean?
My whole project is based off of a futuristic vibe. So to me the DeLorean is like a symbol of that, of where I’m going to take my music and my listeners. I’ve been using the DeLorean since before I got signed. I’ve had Lambos too, but the DeLorean speaks to my current mindset.
Chicago has been the center of a lot of violence lately. How was it growing up there?
I stayed in the crib a lot and I would just mind my business. My parents played a part in [keeping me out of trouble] but really I had the ability to do whatever I wanted. I just was never into that kind of stuff. I was cool with people who were into that lifestyle and I even have friends who are into and it affected them a lot. Overall I’ve been blessed to stay out of that and I intend to continue to live that way.
You’ve made music with the guys from Good Charlotte and Fall Out Boy. What did working in that alternative realm teach you?
It showed me music has no color. To see rock fans latch onto my music and really be into was great and an eye opening experience. It was cool. Never once got booed or heckled. It was all love at the rock shows.
Having that sort of alternative background, did it surprise you when Rick Ross and Diddy came a calling?
It didn’t really surprise me. I knew rap artists were going to relate to my music more than [alternative rock acts]. Like I said before music is universal but a lot of the rock artists appreciate musicality not so much the lyrics so I knew eventually rap would be my home. What did surprise me though was how soon it all happened. That was a bit surprising.
You’ve got a really humble disposition for a rapper, especially a 21-year-old rapper. Is that something you’ve worked towards or your parents worked to instill in you?
No. My outlook is I do what I like. I’m not worried about being cool. I’m humble because I don’t feel a need to impress people and have them idolize me. I’m a normal kid. When I meet people I take them as normal people and I want people to treat me like that too. We’re all just people.