Twenty-one-year-old Rockie Fresh wasn’t born when the first Back to the Future movie was released in 1985. But that doesn’t mean the Chicago upstart doesn’t appreciate the classics. His upcoming mixtape, Driving 88, was inspired by the film’s time-travelling Delorean car which had to reach 88 mph to move through history. With the tape due out on January 23, Rockie is hoping to put his foot on the gas and blow past the deep field of upcoming artists that will all be competing to make 2012 their breakout year. With all of that in mind, BET.com spoke to the laid-back MC about the concept behind Driving 88, his relationship with his hometown and how it feels to be a candidate for the 2012 XXL Freshmen cover.
BET.com: A lot of people in your city seem to have gotten behind you as Chicago’s next big thing. What’s it like to have the belief of a city that doesn’t have the best reputation for supporting its own?
Rockie Fresh: A lot of people label Chicago as the city of hate, but I get a lot of love out there from the hood to the suburbs to the downtown area. We get a lot of respect in the city.… We kinda came out the blue, and it’s not like I’m the most peaceful rapper in the world — I don’t rap about gun violence and stuff like that and I don’t wanna motivate people to do the wrong things — but at the same time, a lot of my music is self-motivated and it’s also used to keep me going so a lot of people might take a cocky vibe from me. But even outside of that, people in the city have really limited their hate for out situation and managed to show us more love. It’s been cool and I appreciate everybody from the city that holds me down.
What’s the concept of the Driving 88 tape?
It’s based off the movie Back to the Future. The Delorean had to get to 88 miles per hour for them to reach their destination, whether it be the future or the past. I’m inspired by old school and new school music, so it kind of related to that. But more so, I’m moving at my own pace of life right now. And I’m achieving a lot of stuff that I only used to dream about. So with that, I’m moving at my own speed and going to the future at my own little pace.
Your future is looking bright, especially as one of the 50 candidates for XXL’s 2012 Freshmen cover. The results aren’t out yet but what’s it like to be considered as one of the best new artists in the game?
It’s really amazing, man. Especially coming from Chicago, ‘cause the only other artist that was even up for XXL Freshmen before was Lupe. And you see where he’s at now. With that, it put a lot of light on me in the city. But at the same time, as a young dude, this is something that I’ve dreamed about. So for me to even get a chance to do something like that is a blessing.
Your friend Casey Veggies was also nominated for the Freshmen list. Your latest collaboration is the title track for Driving 88 and you two both rep hard for your respective cities. How did that track come together?
I was out in L.A. for a couple of months. I was over at Casey’s crib, and I played him a beat and he went super crazy for it. And then I just went back and came up with the hook. I laid to verses and then sent it to him and he ended up coming to the studio that I was in. He laid his third verse where he was talking about the Lakers and stuff like that, then I changed my second verse to kind of relate it to the Bulls and that was it.
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