Rockie Fresh, Chance the Rapper, Mark Battles, R.O.E. 17+ Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., Feb. 2, 8 p.m. 2013

It says a lot about the crazy year Chicago hip-hop had in 2012 that local rapper Rockie Fresh getting signed to Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group wasn’t even close to its biggest story. One of the reasons might be that Rockie isn’t part of the drill scene, which has been a lightning rod for attention. In fact his Kanye-ish combination of brains, sensitivity, and a prominent geeky streak is almost the polar opposite of drill’s cold-blooded aggression. Last Monday Rockie released his first MMG-sponsored mixtape, Electric Highway, which provides a pretty clear idea of what Ross and his king-making machinery have in mind for the 21-year-old. Since his 2009 debut mixtape, Rockie’s Modern Life, he’s evolved from a zippy, ambitious teenager to a prematurely world-weary adult who can channel his energy so efficiently that even his most mellow tracks crackle—not to mention that with MMG behind him he can afford in-demand producers such as Lunice and Boi 1da. If that sounds like a recipe for a younger, hipper replacement for Drake, you’re probably on the right track. So far Ross’s investment seems to be paying off: In the first 24 hours that Electric Highway was available on the mixtape site DatPiff, it was downloaded more than 100,000 times. —Miles Raymer Chance the Rapper, Mark Battles, and R.O.E. open.

Price: $15

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