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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Rockie Fresh is under Rick Ross’ wing, and that’s a great thing

    Courtesy of Billboard

    When it comes to the geographical variation of rap music, it’s always been the West Coast versus the East Coast.

    Timeless imagery comes to mind, embodied by Tupac Shakur’s “California Love” and Biggie Smalls asking “Who Shot Ya?”

    But it’s 2012, and young rap can now come from anywhere. Machine Gun Kelly’s holding it down for Cleveland, Macklemore hails from Seattle and Black Hippy’s Kendrick Lamar is coming straight outta Compton.

    With the exception of Kanye, the Midwest can go largely unnoticed. Donald Pullen, the 21-year-old Chicagoan rapper better known as Rockie Fresh, is about to change all that.

    “There is different stuff on every block there [in Chicago], and it makes it all really diverse, really relatable,” Pullen said, explaining the recent wave of young Chicago rap that carries on the torch of predecessors, like Lupe Fiasco and Common. While this influx of 808-heavy beats and conscious rhyming is a trend that’s beginning to define the loose Chicago sound, Pullen said he feels that it’s the lyricism that’s most important to retain, regardless of how Chicago rap evolves.

    “We just gotta talk about what we know, but that’s what’s great about guys like Nelly, Jay-Z,” he said. “They’re some of the biggest hustlers of all time because they just stayed true to themselves.”

    Staying true has worked wonders for Pullen thus far. Having been recently signed to a deal with Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group, Pullen is the youngest in a stacked crew alongside Wale, Meek Mill, French Montana and Stalley, among others. The grind that Pullen experienced is a lesson in motivation.

    “I think my career is a symbolism of that climb,” he said. “People have seen me going from just being a mixtape artist to getting my first deal.”

    And in the scope of modern rap, that deal with Maybach is huge. Pullen’s more than appreciative of the “big brother” role that Rick Ross has played in his come-up as Rockie Fresh. When it comes to the often ruthless rap industry, it’s best to have a label owner like Ross backing your sound in the numbers you pull.

    “When he broke down my record [2012’s Driving 88 mixtape], it made me understand he was appreciating the way I move as an artist over my fan base at the time,” Pullen said.
    Though Maybach itself is varied in its offerings, from Rick Ross’ cocaine-and-party anthems to Wale’s smooth D.C. flow, Pullen fits a previously unfulfilled niche — both with his geographical allegiance, his age and his sound.

    “I’m the youngest member of the team, I’m the only Chicago representative and right now I’m just adding my piece to it,” he said. “I feel like I have a different flavor that allows me to have a role.”

    Follow us on Twitter @wildcatarts and follow K.C. @KristianCLibman

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