Working it

Rockie Fresh, hip-hop artist: What do you love about Chicago winters? "Now that I've started traveling I've seen other places that never get snow, people there don't get a chance to throw snowballs with their friends -- I utilize the weather being bad as a reason to stay in the studio longer. So I get a lot of work done."

SPIN THIS: Rockie's winter soundtrack: Kanye West's "Coldest Winter" (Photo by Alex Garcia)

***1/2 (out of four)

While a different, more controversial brand of Chicago hip-hop was on the rise last summer, local MC Rockie Fresh had already ascended, signing to Rick Ross's major-label imprint Maybach Music Group.  It happened without the fanfare that usually accompanies such an event, and the Ross-assisted remix of Rockie's "You a Lie" solidified what seemed like an awkward sonic fit at first.

The Chicago rapper's first project since the signing is the upcoming mixtape "Electric Highway," and today we hear the second leak from the project, "Life Long" featuring Rozay and Nipsey Hussle. It's a perfect song for Rockie (it sounds a lot like his own "Twenties"), with a spaced-out string loop that leaves plenty of room for him to coast along his cool flow, while the click-clack and roll of the drums give it a real Chicago texture.

Nipsey Hussle and Rick Ross do their thing, but this beat unfurls out of speakers like a Persian rug, soft and comfortable--really they all just vibe out, the way Rockie's music is usually best served.

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