Interview by Dexter Gordon (@swcdex)
Music, especially the hip-hop culture, walks hand-in-hand with the sneaker community. From rappers making songs about their favorite sneakers to the sneakers artists wear in your favorite rap videos, there is no doubt how much they coincide with each other. As music progresses, sneaker brands — like PUMA — are taking notice at this ongoing relationship between sneakers and hip hop.
Recently PUMA signed Chicago-based artist Rockie Fresh to an endorsement deal. He joins Maybach Music Group partner Meek Millz as a member of the PUMA team. Rockie, along with Casey Veggies (L.A.), Ca$h Out (Atlanta), and DymeADuzin (NY) will be featured in an upcoming PUMA campaign and will serve as brand ambassadors for the lifestyle sneaker and apparel company. In turn, Rockie and others will have the support of one of the most timeless sneaker brands around helping put their music in the ears of new listeners.
We sat down with Rockie to talk about his partnership with PUMA, being a sneakerhead, influences and much more.
What's your relationship with PUMA?
Well, we basically got a partnership going on right now. They are holding me down on all of the great products that they have. And for me, I’m introducing that to a young fanbase that I got that are probably already familiar with it. But we are just showing them how fresh it could really be. We got a lot of stuff coming soon, so stay tuned for it.
Will you be putting out your own signature shoe? Is that something you want to do?
You never know man, can’t give that too early. Ah, definitely. Always, since a shorty I wanted to have my own little kicks. And to be able to potentially work on something like that with a brand like PUMA will be dope.
Did you own any PUMAs growing up?
Totally, of course. I’m a huge sneaker person. But I ain’t into it on some weird shit. I just like having a lot of shoes. I definitely had PUMAs when I was coming up and was still copping pairs as I got older. So I wouldn’t have did it If it wasn’t something I respect.
How many PUMAs can you say you own right now?
Shit, well now? [laughs] A lot, a whole lot.
What do you think of sneaker brands signing rappers/musicians?
I think its super dope because I feel like rappers do a lot for sneaker companies. We really uplift that culture and to see them give back to us, it shows like a full-circle type of movement. I think it’s a good relationship and its something people gonna see till the end of time. We help each other out so it works smooth.
Why do you think sneakers are such a fundamental part of hip-hop culture?
As far as being a rapper, you’re kinda looked at like a superhero. And a lot of the ways you recognize superheroes is by what they have on. Your style is your signature way of really relating to the people that look up to you, giving them some sort of direction, a visual of what you represent. I feel like sneakers are a huge part of that; the way people wear their stuff. Whether it’s the way they lace ‘em, or what brand they're rocking with, its kind of a guideline to an up and coming generation who’s just looking for guidance at all levels. I fell like its a real big part. Also it’s just super simple to fall in line with that. Everybody don’t want to be a rapper, but they can sure dress like one.
As far as being from Chicago, do Kanye West and his sneakers influence you in any way?
Kanye definitely was the first person to do a lot of stuff stylistically on a major scale, so I feel he inspires fashion all across the board. Me personally, he’s much older than me so what I represent is something that I want people to remember me for when I’m his age. I’m definitely inspired by the way he chose to be different but I think the things that I choose to do is more signature to the way that I came up, what I saw and what I naturally like. And It’s just a little bit different from what he did.
Did having sneakerheads in your camp, like Stalley and Wale, make you like sneakers more?
Um, I don’t know man. Them dudes go hard with that shit. I just be chillin’. They take that super serious. I got a lot of shoes, they just like what they do that for real.
Growing up, could you ever picture yourself being signed to a sneaker brand?
Nah, to be honest. I always played sports. By time I got to high school I wasn’t as tall as the other kids on sports teams. I was just real honest with myself in understanding that this wasn’t gonna happen that way. So as far as the music thing, I really didn’t fathom that opportunities like this could come from rap. Not because I haven’t seen it before but just because I’m so focused on making records that I don’t remember that there are opportunities out here like this. So for it to go down, it definitely caught me by surprise. Looking back it makes sense because it falls in line with what I’m about.
Except for PUMA, what other sneakers are you wearing?
I’m pretty much sold to the team right now. I got my fair collection of other stuff, but right now that’s what I’m on. It’s just an original thing. My big homie Meek, he’s down with the movement too and me and him represent the same team so it’s real easy.
What's in store for you musically this summer?
I’m gonna be working on a lot of projects with MMG. We got a lot of cool stuff coming out but I won’t be able to talk on that. And I have my own stuff. I’m doing a lot of videos right now that I will be dropping out of the last project: The Birthday Tape, and the one before that Electric Highway. You might get another project from me too. I’m always working. It’s gonna be a lot of music, a lot of visuals and some cool collaborative efforts from me and the team. I got enough material so I may bless the people again.
Rockie Fresh is rocking the Limited Edition Undefeated x PUMA Clyde 24kt Gametime.