The rap community exploded overnight with coverage of Rockie Fresh, a 21 year old emcee out of the Chi and the newest member of Maybach Music Group. Rockie’s latest mixtape "Electric Highway" dropped January 21 and stands as the artist’s first release under MMG.
In all honesty fans of Rockie Fresh's earlier tapes like Rockie’s Modern Life and Otherside may mark Electric City as a departure from the lyricism and alternative qualities of those efforts. The degree of departure will definitely vary between listeners, but overall the spirit of early Rockie Fresh is pretty clearly present here. More on that later.
Rockie still finds himself on some quirky beats that rarely veer too far left, with an exception here or there like in “Ride Slow” or “Nobody.” On the other hand, “Superman OG” and “I’m Wit It” feature much heavier bass and sound more mainstream; a somewhat hard lean toward rap’s right. The production is balanced throughout, though the auto-tune featured in several tracks is pretty played out by now (granted Rockie isn’t the only artist still employing the effect).
The lyrical content is similarly balanced with most songs in a sort of content-neutral space. Rockie doesn’t skimp on the posturing, which was bound to come with his elevation of status, but it often comes at an odd angle. This is best summarized by his choice car, the DeLorean DMC-12. Haters and females are also covered extensively. Topical content on the whole remains fairly balanced throughout the project.
The main issue with the lyrics, and the mixtape itself, is Rockie’s aforementioned departure from the wordplay, depth and metaphors of his older records. Be it artistic evolution or dumbing down, the end result for listeners is simple similes and punch lines that lack sometimes inspiration. Rockie never really flows tight to the eclectic range of beats on Electric Highway either, but he does maintain a steady rhythm.
At the risk of sounding overly negative though, these lyrical and technical lapses are balanced by flat-out amazing records like “Something Special” or “Life Long,” which features one of Rozay’s best verses in sometime. “Something Special” in particular screams of honest, artistic rap filled with introspection and self-implication.
Electric Highway is a charismatic project from a rapidly rising star that verges on fringe, alternative rap and commercial rap, and that’s its greatest charm. Balance.
At its best Electric Highway epitomizes the talent and vision of Rockie Fresh and builds upon the raw talent on display in his earlier works. In its lacking moments Electric Highway simply sounds like run of the mill commercial rap with experimental sounds, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as the balance remains.