The traditional manner of transitioning from amateur to prominent artist has been losing traction in the music industry for quite some time now. With the recent emergence of “grassroots” rappers like Post Malone and Nef the Pharaoh, the internet has nearly cut out the A&R middleman from the process of discovering new artists. From playing modest shows in Lawrence, Kansas to pushing multi-million plays on SoundCloud and appearing on the radio, Rory Fresco is the next young hip hop artist poised for a breakout year.
Many know the Kansas City-based producer and rapper because his latest track, “Low Key,” was randomly chosen by Soundcloud to appear after Kanye West‘s “Real Friends/No More Parties in LA.” The random algorithm and astonishing good luck did him wonders as far as exposure, however, it’d be wise to see his recent popularity upsurge past that. The 18-year-old artist has been making beats since he was 11 years old, and when asked if he has any other hobbies outside of music he immediately replied “No. I record and sleep and eat.” Making hip hop music remains his complete existence at this point in his life.
I record and sleep and eat.
It feels cliche to chalk his stroke of luck up to karma, but Rory possesses a work ethic and maturity level far beyond what most his age would carry. Despite the sudden life changing event, he maintains the grind and continues living as he always has before which in his words being “What’s most comfortable to me.” Rory still does Rory; he still records in his house’s basement and “eats garlic bread with ranch,” and he fails to sell himself short. All the random stroke of luck provided him was a platform for a large audience to experience his talents.
What mattered most in the end was the actual content. No one would have batted an eye if a Travi$ Scott or Pusha T or any other G.O.O.D. Music signee song had followed Kanye’s. But it wasn’t. On the track, Rory elevated his sound through current hip hop trends with meticulously executed auto-tune, bass-filled atmospheric production techniques, and lyrical repetition to drive home his point. Beginning every bar but one with “low key,” Rory explored topics ranging from flossing to getting kicked out of his house by his mother. Every self-promoting artist dreams to have such an opportunity to put their foot in the door of the music industry, and what he’s done is that he’s taken his platform and ran with it.
When asked how the young artist would overcome the stigma of being “that one guy whose song played after Kanye’s,” Rory detailed his plans to continue improving himself and his discography. He adamantly explained that “I’ve got way better music than ‘low key’…I’ll show the world that Rory is much more than ‘low key.'” The song was an introduction to Rory Fresco, but now with his name out there, he strives to build upon this success.
It’s unfortunate that just last week Rory prematurely posted photos via twitter about signing a major label deal only to later retract the statements. “For the record, I’m not signed to any record labels right now.” Rather, the young artist is currently shopping around his talents for the ideal situation. When asked how that process is going, he responded that he has “Tons of them [offers]. I couldn’t even tell you.” On the flip-side, Rory did consider staying independent, however, feels that he cannot do so if he wanted to succeed. “I want to get to the next level,” he says, “I don’t want to be just another underground artist.” His ideal vision of himself in the near future requires large-scale promotion and resources rather than the slow-building do-it-yourself artistry that lacks major label backing.
Rory detailed a preview on his upcoming project, Hollywood Rebel, which he hopes to release on a major label: “expect great, quality music. Just bigger soundscapes. It’s gonna be a lot different from ‘low key.’ It’s more so of a journey through Rory’s life.” When asked why “Hollywood,” Rory explained “That’s my destination. That’s where I’m trying to get to. I want to get to superstar status. When you think Hollywood you think big, big screens, movies.” The self-proclaimed shy artist graduated from Greenville High School in 2015 and subsequently dropped out of higher education to do music full-time. Thus, Rory lacks a college degree as a safety net and has much uncertainty to overcome in his upcoming career. Hollywood Rebel sets to do just that. He plans on producing most of the album itself and has no set timeline for its release.
expect great, quality music. Just bigger soundscapes…I want to get to superstar status.
Rory ambitiously sees himself in 3-5 years “at the Grammy’s, definitely at the Grammy’s.” His manager, who also happens to be his father, agreed: “There’s a lot of stuff in the works, so there will probably be a couple announcements coming soon, so stay tuned.”
The reserved artist stressed the importance of building himself and his music into a largely recognizable brand. Notable extroverted hip hop icons such as Kanye West and 50 Cent typically make headlines more consistently than those, like Rory, who choose mainly to let their work speak for them. Remaining on the threshold between one-time internet sensation and breakthrough artist, Rory Fresco aims to progress his current place in hip hop by expanding his audience’s sound experience and consistently producing quality music that remains, unquestionably, straight from Rory’s young and unadulterated talents.