Rockie Fresh's Electric Highway: What Kid Cudi Wished His Last Album Sounded Like

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Rockie Fresh in 3-D

Better Than: Waiting until Jan. 21

Rick Ross and his Maybach Music Group (MMG) cadre of artists have perfected a sonic and aesthetic blueprint over the past two years. Unapologetically ostentatious lyrics, pounding basslines and of course, Jessica Gomez's deliciously sexy "Mmmmmaybach Music" drop; you know a MMG song when you hear it. Rockie Fresh, MMG's latest signee, is in many ways the antithesis to the house that Rick built. The 21-year-old is a self-described "normal kid"--part Chicago hipster, part friendly stoner-- with a musically diverse resume that includes work with Good Charlotte, Fall Out Boy and Cassie Veggies.

See also:
- Q&A with Rockie Fresh

Last night, the rapper previewed his upcoming mixtape Electric Highway (Jan. 21 release) as a "3-D visual listening experience" at Sunshine Cinema. From the onset, it was clear that MMG was laissez faire with the project. Rick Ross was initially billed as the night's compère and turned out to be a no-show, making Rockie the center of attention by default. Inspired by a "futuristic vibe," select mixtape cuts were set against a dazzling array of imagery like Chicago cityscapes, POV shots through a DeLorean and trippy crack tokes. The term "3-D" may have been a bit of misnomer (Those cheap plastic glasses just turn everything blue and red and cause eyestrain) but the visuals were enjoyable and special touches like including the original movie previews for 1985's Back to the Future and 1980's Friday The 13th didn't go unnoticed.

Electric Highway is a beautiful sounding mixtape. Rockie trades in MMG's chest pounding for lush, spaced-out sounds, hypnotic beats and interesting musicscapes. "Lights" is a cosmic synth fest; moody and dreamy; what Kid Cudi wished his last album sounded like. "Superman OG" features Lunice, one half of production duo TNGHT, is a delightful combination of clinks and snares which Rockie's even flow hugs like curves on a road. "Young nigga, new cheddar, my team is rich forever," Rockie raps, an homage to Rick Ross' Rich Forever mixtape. He talks tough on the track but is hyper-aware of his new fame. "Fake fans, they ain't even got the mixtape/Fuck 'em" he closes. "Nobody" which samples British singer Clare Maguire's wrenching "Ain't Nobody" seems like total musical serendipity. The song's producer Peezy told me that he wasn't --and still isn't--that familiar with Maguire but knew that she sounded good and that she was legit because she was "verified on Twitter".

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