It's been a quick ride to the top for Rockie Fresh, the latest artist to join Rick Ross' growing stable of top-flight talent with Maybach Music Group. After all, the young MC is only 21 years old and just signed his first major label deal last week.
"I've been managing him for about three years now; he went to the same high school I did," said Andrew Gertler from APG Music Group. "At the time he hadn't recorded any music… we just went to work and built everything from the ground up."
Since then, Fresh has dropped three mixtapes and built a following in his hometown of Chicago, hoping to follow down the trail blazed by Common and Kanye West. Shortly his most recent mixtape, "Driving 88," he found some fairly famous fans.
"I put out a music video for the intro to my mixtape called 'Into the Future' about two months ago," Rockie said to The Juice. "Rick Ross' A&R saw the video and played it for Ross, and he immediately took a liking to it."
What resulted was a whirlwind of attention from some of the most powerful men in the music industry. With Chicago quickly becoming a focal point of hip-hop -- teenage phenomenon Chief Keef signed to Interscope last month after gaining notoriety with a Kanye co-sign -- Ross planned to fly Rockie out to Los Angeles. But the bawse wasn't the only one interested.
"I just viewed [Ross] as a big brother, not as somebody who was gonna try to sign me… Then he got back to me later on that week letting me know that he was interested in going full-fledged with everything," Rockie said. "I was in talks with Bad Boy and Diddy at the time, and that was a situation that I really looked deep in to because they definitely put in a lot of work to make me feel comfortable."
With so much attention from two high-profile label heads, Rockie had a sensitive decision to make. He finally settled on joining the MMG roster that also includes the likes of Meek Mill, Wale, Omarion, Stalley.
"More so outside the deal was why I signed with them," he explained. "[Ross] had such a respect for my own sound and my own project that I had already put out. He wanted me to add my own type of flavor into something great that they already have. He's not trying to have me make a certain type of record. He wants me to be the emotional Chicago artist that I am. So it works out smooth."
The contract, according to Gertler, is a multi-album deal between both Warner Music Group and MMG. Monetary terms were not released, though neither Ross' nor Diddy's labels are exactly strapped for cash. But before Rockie works on his MMG debut, he'll be hitting the road with six dates supporting Meek Mill's "Dreamchasers" tour followed by a headlining outing starting in late August in support of his upcoming fall "Electric Highway" mixtape. He'll be taking his time before dropping a proper album.
"Now I have the resources to actually make an incredible album. I have the features to pull in, the producers to pull in," he said. "It's gonna be something classic. I feel like I'm gonna become, in the next few years, one of the top rappers in the game. That's the goal."