Rockie Fresh - Electric Highway
Release Date - January 21, 2013
Record Label: Maybach Music Group
Rockie Fresh's career path up to this point has been a bit perplexing, to say the least. He first made connections in the industry after a couple of self-released mixtapes by befriending Joel and Benji Madden of Good Charlotte. To further his connection to this scene, he went on tour with someone he has cited as a big influence, Patrick Stump. Then he pulled a Tyga (who was at one point signed to Decaydance Records), and instead of continuing to be a presence in this scene of music, Rockie signed with hip-hop behemoth Maybach Music Group. The new mixtape from the young rapper, Electric Highway, is his first release under the Maybach Music imprint, and the results are pretty much what you would expect from a MMG debut mixtape.
Rick Ross, CEO of Maybach Music Group, is a very smart businessman. He knows that in order to garner attention before an artist's debut album, it's smart to drop a mixtape or two to get anticipation for it to rise. He did the same with Meek Mill, and he's doing the same with Rockie Fresh. Unfortunately, unlike Meek Mill's excellent Dreamchasers and Dreamchasers 2, Electric Highway leaves a lot to be desired.
The 21 year old Rockie Fresh certainly has potential, but that potential is somewhat hard to find on the mixtape. The first track, “The Future,” starts with a very typical and underwhelming hook doused in autotune and a backing beat that sounds like something every other member of MMG passed on. It lacks the punch and attention-grabbing flavor you might find on any other number of Maybach released mixtapes, and while his rhymes are as boastful as any one else on the label, he lacks a distinct personality to keep people interested in hearing his boasts. Rockie comes across as a more listenable and more likeable Wiz Khalifa, but still a run-of-the-mill, middle of the pack member of a bigger group in the way A$AP Twelvy is in the A$AP Mob (and it's no coincidence that the two share a similar rapping style).
There are, however, signs of a very good artist throughout the mixtape, though the credit for that should be given to the production over Rockie himself. “Superman OG,” the standout among the 17 tracks, is a monstrous and ominous beat that builds and shimmers behind the most confident Rockie Fresh we've ever seen. The production on the track was handled by Lunice, one-half of the electronic duo TNGHT, and if “Superman OG” is any indication, his emergence into the american hip-hop scene is going to have a lot of people turning their heads. It helps, too, that Rockie is able to flow over the beat with ease like he's on top of the world. It's moments like these that lead one to believe Rockie has the potential to do something great, but with a song like “The Warnings” immediately following “Superman OG,” that sentiment gets lost rather quickly. “The Warnings” kills all momentum the tape had going for it with a slow, smooth track that fails to keep the attention of the listener. It's an occurrence that happens a lot on the tape, though it is expected with a project that's 17 tracks long.
All of this is not to say that Rockie Fresh can't do the slow and smooth style well; “Show Me Sumthin'” does a good job of pulling off the ambient and smoked out sound he goes for on a few of the earlier tracks. The real problem with the mixtape is the lack of focus and direction. The songs seem placed in an order with no real thought behind it, which is typical of a mixtape, but some of the songs that may sound alright outside of the context of the project end up bogging down the overall product. This is forgivable and expected, as one can assume these are the songs that didn't make Rockie's debut album, due out later this year. We can only hope that, unlike his fellow Maybach Music artist Meek Mill, his debut album is better than his mixtapes.
Nice work, Jake. A RIYL would be appreciated, but other than that, I really enjoyed this.
Another staffer can correct me if I'm wrong on this, but there's a general trend on the site to move away from that in reviews as part of the new system (i.e. consistent /10 scoring system). Is a RIYL really necessary when you can easily go listen to something on spotify or youtube and see for yourself in a matter of seconds what the album sounds like?