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ROCKIE FRESH: Chi-town Hustle

Chi-Town is known for birthing some of Hip-Hop’s finest. Kanye, Common, Lupe Fiasco, Kid Sister, Kidz in the Hall and The Cool Kids are just some examples of artists that rep the city. Enter up-and-comer Rockie Fresh who is now staking his claim.

Words: Kristie Bertucci
Images: Courtesy of Big Hassle

“I look up to all of those guys [artists from Chicago] and they’re doing what I want to do,” says 20-year-old newcomer Rockie Fresh. “I feel like there’s pressure but also it’s more motivation for me to be great.” And thanks to his great attitude and clever rhymes, Rockie Fresh is already creating quite a buzz. His ability to look beyond traditional Hip-Hop beats to seamlessly blend in some alternative and electro cues further sets him apart from his peers. But what really makes this kid shine are his dreams of adding value to his music, rather than all the glitz and fame that has become a standard.

“I just want to contribute to making my generation better,” he replies when asked what he hopes to achieve within his career in Hip-Hop. “A lot of adults have been in fear for my generation due to drugs, death and violence, and I just want to be a positive influence on my generation. I want to change the game. I’d really like for people to give me credit for being something positive and real, and not just about the flashy things that so many are known for.”

While Rockie never set out to be a professional rapper and didn’t even realize his own talent for rhyming until after he won a rap battle at age 17, his passion for Hip-Hop began long before that. When he was in the 8th grade, Rockie discovered Kanye West’s College Dropout. “That album was totally the opposite of Gangsta Rap and that wasn’t really typical at the time,” he recalls. “I really liked the message that it put out there and [it] inspired me to be myself. Kanye and Jay-Z are the two who really got me into the music.”

Now, only two years into his career, Rockie’s experience thus far has been world-changing, having already performed at SXSW, A3C Hip-Hop Festival and CMJ. He’s even met a few of the major musicians that have influenced him over the years. “I’ve been meeting people like John Mayer and Patrick Stump who are not in the realm of Hip-Hop, but are great people who have been a part of the great music of my generation. I’m understanding the value of hard work and that’s what the journey has taught me most.”

Two mixtapes in— Modern Life and The Otherside— the talented young MC recently dropped, The Otherside Redux presented by LRG and DatPiff, a re-release of his The Otherside that features remixes from the original project and new music, along with appearances by Casey Veggies, Lil B, Naledge, Phil Ade, Tayyib Ali and Rich Hill.

Click the image to download the The Otherside Redux

“I felt like there’s a message in The Otherside that may have been missed just due to the fact that I wasn’t as popular when the mixtape first dropped [in December 2010]. The album was me introducing myself as an artist, and I just want people to get a complete understanding of who I am before I drop more music.”

While Rockie promises to release yet another mixtape before the year ends, he’s in no rush to drop a full LP anytime soon. “My goal as an artist is to have one classic guaranteed album out and I want that to be my first album,” he explains. “I’m pretty much making the music I’ve always wanted to make, but want to wait until everything’s just right for my debut LP.”

Taking inspiration from albums like The Black Album and College Dropout and treating them like “blueprints,” Rockie is completely focused on bringing back lyrical quality to music, something he says has gotten lost in the past couple of years. “At the end of the day, I’m always going to be myself in my music,” he says. “I feel like my music is a mix of everything. On my mixtapes, I go from grunge, Hip-Hop to something melodic then on to something more urban.”

Besides working on his own music, Rockie has also caught the attention from other artists, like Joel Madden, who recently flew him out to Los Angeles to collaborate on some tracks. He’s also working on stuff with Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Casey Veggies, Chamillionaire, Lil B, with more in the works. “One thing that I’ve picked up on is that I love to take advice from veterans of music,” he says of the experience. “That’s one of the things I’ve incorporated into my lyrics and song structure, as well as what’s helped me navigate.”

Already living the dream, Rockie Fresh is well on his way to becoming a notable name. But his life won’t be complete until he gets a chance to work with one legend. “A dream come true would be to do a record with Jay-Z! Not only is he is considered the best rapper alive right now, but he’s a great lyricist and I’d like to see how my stuff compares to his. Now that would be true success!”

Images courtesy of Big Hassle.

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