Every family has its baby, and for Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group, that role belongs to 22-year-old rapper Rockie Fresh. Handpicked by Ross in 2012, Fresh, with his his self-reflective mood and offbeat musical taste, has brought an alternative flavor to the hip-hop power circle known primarily for its drug kingpin front. Appearing on four songs on Self Made 3, the third volume of the MMG’s compilation series, Fresh has earned his place in the rap game, steadily phasing out his title as up-and-comer as he comes closer to releasing his debut album next year. Photography by James Orlando.
Maybach’s compilation album Self Made 3 was released this fall, making it the first time your music has appeared in stores. What was that like, considering you haven’t even released your own debut album as Rockie Fresh?
Not a lot of label artists put together collaborative albums giving a new artist the opportunity to shine before they even drop their own solo project. So with that, I just take it as a nice opportunity, but at the same time I really wanna be known for my own explanation for hip hop. I’ve been focusing on that and kind of having tunnel vision achieving this style versus looking for a huge increase in fans right now.
I imagine it’s a really great jumping-off point building your own platform as Rockie Fresh.
Yeah, it’s crazy. Just even the record that I was able to be apart of — I’m on a song with J.Cole, Wale and Meek Mill — so for me to be the youngest member of Maybach Music Group and be put on a track of that caliber is really cool. It was an honor.
What’s with the dynamic of you being the youngest member signed to the Maybach group — do you still feel like you’re in awe or admiration working with such successful rap artists?
From an artist perspective it feels really cool to be able to compete with much older and more seasoned artists. It kind of puts me in another level and makes me want to work harder. That’s the fun part about it; I’m always pushing to outdo myself. Every time I approach a project, it’s been amplified to a whole other level because I know I’m competing with a Meek Mill or a Wale making me take my work even more seriously.
You’ve said before that being from Chicago, you have a different sound than other Maybach artists. What do you mean by this?
I’m from a different perspective of the city. Every year Chicago offers something to a new age group. We’re all young, but I think I’m the only representative of my age group who’s [representing] the suburbs. I’ve been able to craft a different appreciation for different music. I try to bring everything I’m inspired by into one project so I think that’s what kind of separates me. I love gangsta rap, I love trap music, but at the same time I have an appreciation for pop music and indie rock and alternative and things like that.
Do you think you’d ever incorporate some of those genres — indie, pop, alternative— into future releases?
Not now, but I probably need to. In order to take my sound to the next level like I want to, there’s something new that I gotta pick up and add to. Just having that variety is something I want to bring to the game, and with my first album that’s really what I want to do— show all different sides of the music in a real cohesive, seamless way so that people from all genres will be able to appreciate my thing. That’s really what I’m working towards, and I’m willing to go anywhere sound-wise in order to achieve that.
Since your rise to fame have you seen some dark sides to the industry?
If I were in the industry just running around by myself, I probably would have seen a lot more of a dark side. That’s something that made me want to sign to Rick Ross’s label. For us to want to do business with a guy of his caliber, it’s because he really knows the ins and outs and everything, and with that a lot of advice he’s given me along with some of my other big homies has made it a lot easier to not see some of the messed up stuff or not be surprised when I do see it.
Out of all the tracks on Self Made 3 which are you most proud of?
I’m honestly proud of all of the tracks just because they’re all different. Each track has a different vibe and person involved in it. Even on the track “God Is Great” which is me having a solo rapping track, Boi-1da was always one of my favorite producers so that was really cool. I got to be on songs with J.Cole and Fabolous and people like that so that was an honor as well. There will be a lot of videos coming up with this Self Made 3 project so that’s another thing to look forward to.