Rockie Fresh: “I was super nervous, man. It was one of those things where I went through a lot when I was making Driving 88. And looking back on it, I think years from now, I am going to appreciate 2011-12 in a whole another way. Right now, I’ve just been working and trying to take everything in. So I haven’t really reflected, but I probably will soon. With the Driving 88 project, I started working on it out in L.A., a lot of the records I recorded didn’t even get cleared for me to use by the producer.

“So I recorded 15 records and I thought that my mixtape was done and I was gonna be able to release it September-October and all of those records got stripped from me. The people I was working with in L.A., we ended up having a fall out in business, which hindered me from signing a deal. I had offers at that time and a lot of people don’t know that. Universal and Columbia, we were talking with them super tough. And they showed a lot of interest in my situation so shout out to them. They were kind of the first people on it.

“With that being said, my legal situation at the time hindered me from being able to sign with them. So as a young person, I was super scared, super nervous. I didn’t have a record. I don’t know what happened but one day I guess [the] guys just hit me, ‘You really need to turn up.’ I hit up my producers and we legit got in like the last two-three weeks of December, while everybody was doing family stuff, struggling with the snow, we were traveling all through the cities and getting into the studios. Just recording and making stuff from scratch. With that, I ended up coming up with 12 records on Driving 88 that wasn’t even there two weeks before the tape came out.

“My homie Kells, he was going at Howard at the time, I normally send him records. We was knocking out the records so fast that he didn’t even really get to—like him and his brother who I normally test records out with, they didn’t get a chance to like hear it because it was such a fast pace situation.

“So when we got done, I was just so tired. I just so blown on what went down that I didn’t even know if I made something that was dope. Even if my homies around me were like, ‘Man, it’s cold.’ It was one of them things where my ears were so tired and I was tired of being in the situation that was in and I didn’t really get to see it for what it was.

“I was nervous because of that situation because I finished it two days before it came out. So just the anxiety that was leaking over. Just to see the response from it, it was something that was dope. But it was also something that was still small, so I didn’t know if it was one of them things where I was becoming a bigger indie artist and if I lost value in the eyes of the labels because of my situation.”

“With the turnaround, it came months later. It’s crazy. You know, Patrick, Benji, and Joel and them, they always told me: ‘When you drop something that really is a breakthrough for you, it doesn’t really crack immediately.’ Unless you got that machine behind you. I ain’t really get that."