VIBE.com alumni Rockie Fresh is destined for another plateau of rap greatness. In the midst of finishing up his upcoming mixtape, Electric Circus, Rockie signed his first major record deal with Rick Ross’ Maybach Music group. The news shook up the blogosphere and gained Fresh a gang of new fans and believers. Days after he gave his John Handcock to MMG’s paperwork, VIBE scooped him up again for an in-depth interview on his road to MMG.
VIBE: Congrats family!
Rocke Fresh: I appreciate y’all for supporting me, even before this went down; when I was out posting records and building my fan base. To see everybody believe, now I have something to be proud of. It’s a real good time for me.
No doubt. Do you almost feel validated now for believing in your musical abilities even when no one else did?
Yeah, it feels like a little bit of weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but at the same time, it’s one of those things where I was working out all of these record deals, basically since February, I’ve been taking meetings, and it was just one of those things in which I finally found a place where I was real comfortable with and that I knew I could flourish in, and for that there was a relief, and more of a relief than anything and that’s what made it so special.
I know you said before you had major labels courting you. You had RCA, Columbia, Universal, even Puff and Bad Boy, were you close to going with any one of them prior to the whole MMG thing?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, all of them were good people. I had some really solid A&Rs that were courting me and showing me a lot of love, and Puff; he’s a great dude, like I definitely see why he’s still so respected in the industry. I was definitely close to making a couple of other moves, but this situation really felt like the best one for me. That’s why I went with it.
From what we see on Twitter from Ross, he really seems to believe in your whole movement, and not just “Rockie Fresh, the new MMG rapper.”
Definitely. I mean, he really saw my vision. Just me being where I’m from, in Chicago, we’re just now starting to get our brand back with a lot of things, you know with Lupe, and a lot of dudes coming up, labels are taking notice earlier. You know Chief Keef, he’s young; he’s like 17, 18; I’m 21; and so we’re at a really young age, and people are just seeing it. Ross really believes I’m going to be a big player in this rap game for a long. I feel the same way. We connected on that.
Do you remember the first thing Ross said to you. What was that moment was like when you met him for the first time?
The first question he asked me was, ‘What’s your story? What’s your motivation?’ And then I kind of broke it down to him, and he took this pause, he paused…there was my story, and after he was like, ‘It’s the same way for me man! You know what I’m saying…’ And I was like, ‘Aww, that’s what’s up!’ You know, me and Ross we just related and it was a real smooth conversation. We talked about the industry; we were talking about the success of Meek and Wale…it was just dope. It was a real organic thing. I got to go to a couple of video shoots with him, and just really grew respect for him as a person more than anything. We just built from there.
In my opinion Ross doesn’t try to stop what you’re doing, but more or less lets you run with your own thing but also adds the Maybach flavor to to your music.
That’s exactly what it is. Like Ross really respects my sound and respects Driving 88. He liked a lot of records that were out there and told me what he liked about those certain records, and it was giving me a platform for people to appreciate what I do on a higher level, and now I’m combining that with theMaybach sound. Right now, me, Wale, Ross, Stalley, and even Omarion, everybody’s turning up and we’re becoming that next label in the industry, and I wanted to be a part of something like that. And especially because knowing they appreciate what I do and aren’t looking to change it.
Did Ross actually tell you what his favorite joint was from 88?
Oh yeah, definitely. He said his favorite was “Twenties.” He’s a huge fan of that joint, and it surprised me because that’s one of my favorite records off the tape, too. It really sums things up for me, so for him to appreciate the hunger from that record was dope for me.
I was going to say that song kind of goes with Ross’ whole theme. I feel he’s really out for longevity. It’s about being “rich forever,” not just ‘let’s just get it real quick.’
Exactly. And I guess that’s just one of those things that we related on, and we really want this to be a long term thing. Like, I’m not looking to jump in and out of situations. I really want to make history here the same way Drake did with Young Money; the same way B.o.B. did with Grand Hustle; Kanye with Roc-A-Fella and so forth. I want that type of run, and we both feel like that was about to happen.
Honestly, I think an Omarion hook on a Rockie Fresh joint will take you to mainstream radio. He really surprised a lot of cats on Self Made 2. No one was expecting him to bring that project together.
He definitely did, and he even surprised me because I always knew that the dude was dope, but he really took it to another level and just showed that he’s here to stay. He killed it.
Being that you’re also from Chicago. Have you had any interaction with Kanye and the G.O.O.D. Music Crew?
Nah, not him directly. But I’m pretty cool with Don C. And with Virgil who does a lot of Kanye’s creative direction. I’ve done a bunch of shows with Big Sean and I met Cudi. I always wanted everything to be organic so when I meet Kanye, even now, it’s going to be more respect versus if I met him earlier and tried to sell myself.
Who’s your dream producer collabo?
Its three dudes that I really, really want to work with. I got a lot of respect for a lot of the young producers now, but just me being someone who is new and trying to produce classic albums and knowing people that have done that. I really want to work with Timbaland, I feel like I could make some sick records with him. Also Pharrell just because I have that more mellow rap vibe and I feel like his production would really fit my flow well and also Kanye with him being from Chicago. I feel we could make a classic Chicago type of record.
Tell me about your first mixtape, Electric Highway, under the MMG umbrella.
Man, I recorded a bunch of songs for the mixtape already but just with the new situation that happened and the production resources that I’ll have, even the story that I can tell now, I’m going to, within the next weeks, really go back in and try to create some amazing new stuff that may wash out a lot of the old stuff that I recorded.
Even the title sounds more eclectic than something you’d hear from Maybach. Can you break it down for us?
My last mixtape was called Driving 88 and it was really explaining to my listeners in a long way that this is the speed that I’m moving at, and I’m comfortable with my pace. At the time I was an independent artist, and I was getting hit up by a lot of fans saying that they felt I was underrated or that I should’ve been signed and things like that. But I was comfortable with the pace that I was at, so that was Driving 88 pushing. Now, I’m moving into a different realm even before the Maybach situation went down I got blessed with the opportunity to headline my first tour. With that it’s just a different side, I’m on a different ramp on a different highway, but I’m still moving at the same speed and I want it to show that. That’s why I named it Electric Highway.
Well put, man. I’m sure your phone has been blowing up nonstop. Did Diddy reach out after the news broke of your signing?
He always showed love in the sense that I was honest with him in letting him know that Ross was interested in signing me, and with that being said, it was one of those things where he said he’d show love to me no matter what decision I made. I’m still going to hold him to that. I feel like things will still be smooth.
Is there one piece of advice that Puff gave you that sticks with you?
It was more so on a personal level, his respect for Driving 88 and the way that he broke down certain records out the tape too, made me respect him in a different way. With that, when I started to work more on Electric Highway, after meeting him, then that made me look at my records differently and have a better understanding of what I wanted to do. And I wouldn’t have had someone of that caliber break certain things down to me that made it special and help. So that was the cool part about Diddy conversations. He was a real explanatory dude and he went real in depth in explaining things and allowed me to see the records in a different light.
Honestly, what’s your favorite Ross song of all time?
That’s a tough one. Top 3, the first “Maybach Music” with Jay-Z, that record was insane. He had this freestyle, because I used to be super thirsty for Lil Wayne and Rick Ross releases and he released this freestyle called the “Teflon Don” freestyle and it got snatched off the internet, but I was able to get it because I was on it early, and we all listened to that like every day. That, and he got this other record called “Yacht Club” on Teflon Don. That joint is in-sane. The lyrics and the way he throws down stuff is cold.
One last thing, Ross said something about bringing Nipsey and Dom into the picture. Do you know if he’s still planning to sign them?
I never talked with him about that, but I wouldn’t be mad at that. I’m not too sure.