Been a huge fan of Rockie’s ever since The Otherside dropped. itstheBino will hopefully meet up with him down at SXSW next week.
Above is the first episode of Rockie Fresh’s new mini-series, Life On The Otherside. In this episode, Rockie heads to Los Angeles over All Star Weekend, where he works on and previews a record with Casey Veggies, heads to work with Patrick Stump (of Fall Out Boy), and and performs with Rick Ross over All-Star Weekend. The series is a raw and uncut account of Rockie’s life, shot by director Justin Oh.
Every year XXL releases their Freshmen class issue where they choose the most promising up and coming artists in the game. Even if you consider XXL to be a fading publication, there is no doubt that being an XXL Freshmen carries some serious weight and still garners you significant exposure. So instead of guessing which faces will grace the January cover of XXL, we’ve (me) decided to come up with our own list. The artists below have, in our opinion, created enough impressive material to take it to the next level. If you disagree with the artists selected, feel free to let us know who you think we should keep on eye on. You’ll notice that a majority of these artists are people we’ve been lucky enough to sit down with and interview. We’ve had the chance to spend time with some of these artists and see them perform and master their craft. Is this a coincidence? Honestly? Yes. We’ve been lucky enough to interview the artists we admire and that’s all. There is no correlation between our Freshmen list and our interview list. Bottom line. Take a look below at our 2011 Freshmen list, which is in no particular order.
1. OCD: Moosh and Twist
Philadelphia high schoolers Moosh and Twist make up OCD. These two came onto itstheBino’s radar a few months ago and we couldn’t be happier. If you watch their videos (Live It Up, City Kids and Wake Up) you can really tell these two are having a fucking great time making music. Partnering with Rex Arrow Films, OCD has created a really nice online following. Check them out on Facebook and Twitter. OCD’s popularity has skyrocketed in the past two months. They’ve earned the right to open for monster acts like Mac Miller and Big Sean. Watch out for their first mixtape Up Before The World, dropping soon. Team OCD.
2. Rockie Fresh
When thinking about Chicago hip-hop, a few names come to mind: Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Common, The Cool Kids, No I.D., Twista, Rhymefest, Crucial Conflict etc. In the near future, I’m pretty sure we’ll be adding another name to this list: Rockie Fresh. After releasing his debut mixtape, Rockie’s Modern Life, in 2009 Rockie put pen to paper and began writing tracks for the mixtape that grabbed my attention, The Otherside. With features and samples from artists like Naledge, Imogen Heap, Mike Golden, Phil Ade, Mr. Hudson and Rich Hil, The Otherside is one of the most complete, polished and compelling mixtapes I’ve heard this year. If you haven’t downloaded The Otherside already, make sure you pick it up on our mixtape page. 2011 is Rockie’s for the taking.
Obviously, the first thing you think when you see CurT@!n$ is “what the fuck is up with his name?”. I’ll let CurT@!n$ explain in his own words, “The name CurT@!n$ simply means shut it down, its a wrap, or any arrogant connotation to the phrase ‘its curtains’”. He first caught my attention with his Letter To The People series earlier this year and his Wu-Tang inspired mixtape,The Dissertation: The Wu Thesis. His latest mixtape, #Killer, has blow up and will only help him gain in popularity. In 2011, its curtains for the competition (couldn’t resist).
4. Mac Miller
I don’t think this nomination is a surprise to anyone. Hailing from Pittsburgh, Mac Miller has been everywhere since the release of K.I.D.S., his latest mixtape. Only 20 years old, Miller was signed to Rostrum Records (same label as Wiz Khalifa) a couple of months ago. Since then, he has put out some dope music videos (Nikes On My Feet, Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza, Knock Knock) with Rex Arrow Productions (who seem to be everywhere by the way). Mac Miller is a shoe in for the XXL cover. And he’s 20.
5. The ILLZ
This shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone who follows itstheBino. The ILLZ has put out two stellar mixtapes in the past year (The Pursuit LP and The In Between Video Series) along with a slew of amazing Kristopher Talley-Rey directed music videos (Turpentine Weed, Ode to New York, Where We’re Going, The Moment You Feel Definite Hope, and more). The frustrating part is I don’t know where he can go from here. His videos are dope. His production is dope (ILL Tal). His lyrics and flow are dope. I honestly feel as though his mixtapes are better than a majority of albums you’ll find in stores today. His passion and drive are unmatched. The only thing I can do is continue to promote The ILLZ where ever I go until he becomes as big as he deserves to be. As Eminem said in Syllabales “It is not about lyrics anymore, its about a hot beat and a catchy hook.” I hope that changes soon. It’s The ILLZ bitch.
There can’t be an itstheBino Freshmen list without a Connecticut rep right? Cuey has been on fire the last half of this year, releasing two dope mixtapes (Cuey Sings the Blues and Leftovers). Many rappers nowadays try to emulate the Drake model by rapping and harmonizing in their songs. Most fail miserably. However, OnCue is one of the few that pull it off. With the help of his right hand producer, CJ Luzi, OnCue utilizes some obscure and some poppy samples to create some genuinely soulful tracks. Like The ILLZ, OnCue belts out every bar with passion and determination. Leftovers is carrying some serious momentum right now and Cuey promises his next mixtape will be all original beats, no samples. OnCue for president.
7. Jon Connor
To be honest, I never heard of Jon Connor till I met him in person at the Generation Next concert in Brooklyn about a month ago. One of the first things I noticed when I met him is how humble he comes across. When I got a chance to watch his soundcheck at Southpaw, he was performing his set like he was playing in front of a crowd of 20 thousand. That’s when you know someone has a passion for what he’s doing. With songs like Epic and The Message and co-signs from people like Busta Rhymes and Nas, the mayor of Flint is riding some serious momentum into 2011.
Honorable mentions: Phil Ade, Thee Tom Hardy, Diggy.
The new mixtape from Rockie Fresh finally drops with features from Rich Hil, Phil Ade, Mike Golden, Mr. Hudson, Imogen Heap and Naledge. I just did a listen through on the entire mixtape and its definitely worth a download. I’m extremely impressed. There is no doubt this is one of the best mixtapes I’ve heard in a while. Official co-sign from itstheBino. Look out for this kid’s buzz to skyrocket in a minute. Artwork is done by Marc Moran.
One last leak with Rich Hil before The Otherside hits the blogosphere tomorrow. Rockie samples the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ track The Otherside. Check out our interview with Rich Hil here. Make sure to check out Rockie Fresh’s interview with NBC Chicago.
itstheBino receives music, videos and other content from various outlets, record labels, artists, and producers. Due to the volume of content we receive it is impossible for us to determine if the works are authorized by the copyright holder. As such we claim safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Title 17, United States Code, Section 512. Pursuant to the DMCA, if you are a copyright holder and believe your work is being infringed upon you are required by law to adhere to the DMCA procedure. Email us at email@example.com.