The casual hip hop listener may think Miami is a frequent launchpad for new rappers – after all, the tropical city is name dropped countless times on countless tracks. It instead became the rap industry’s luxury destination and less of a creative wellspring. Of course, there are exceptions: Pitbull and Lil Wayne both live and record music here, and there are up and coming lyricists on the mic at clubs like Dream and Icon.
Still though, the loudest music in town is EDM and Latin grooves. Only occasionally does a truly dope rapper/producer cut through the noise…
E.C. Fresco from South Miami-Dade is poised to be one of them. With a smooth flow and honed musical chops, the 32-year-old New York transplant crafts songs which can turn up a party or get stuck in your head during a late-night cruise down Lincoln Ave.
His first mixtape A Walk in My Shoes (2014) showcases a bit of everything he has to offer. E.C. Fresco spits confident rhymes over collaborations with producers like 9th Wonder and Mace Beats, from the old school haze of “Watching Me,” to the massive beat in “Playin Wit Em.” Fresco’s own production is featured on the high energy, strings-laden “This is How We Roll” featuring local lyricist Nubawn and rap legend Mr. Cheeks (known from the group Lost Boyz and hit singles like “Lights, Camera, Action”), and the flashy horns of “On the Run (feat. Maybach Dice & Finesse).”
He has only sharpened his skills since then. His latest release is the song “Look No Further” by rising star Tory Lanez, with Fresco acting as producer alongside frequent Lanez collaborator Play Picasso. The production features a staple E.C. Fresco sound, making the track stand out among all the other bangers on Lanez’s Soundcloud page. So far the song has over one and half millions plays and counting.
Tropicult interviewed E.C. Fresco to find out what makes his beats kick, and to learn his plans for the future:
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how it inspired you?
E.C. Fresco: I was born in Queens, NY but I lived all over New York and Miami. I had also lived in Baltimore and New Jersey at some point, so it’s safe to say I been all over the place. But New York is where I lived the hip-hop culture and learned how to rap.
When did you start getting involved in making music? Did you get any formal instruction like lessons or classes?
E.C. Fresco: I started rapping when I was like 12 in New York. My older cousins from Washington Heights were taking rap seriously and that’s when I started freestyling with them. My first rhyme blew my crew away and [they] told me to keep going so I did. I started making beats later on in Miami when my step-pops bought an Akai [a classic drum machine – ed.] and he eventually passed it on to me. I was also good at playing the piano by ear so the beats came easily.
Do you have a greater message or theme that you’re trying to express to the public through your music and words?
E.C. Fresco: I always had a message in my music, some may be positive and some may be negative but it’s all coming from the heart. I like to make music you can think to and sometimes music that you can party to. I try being a better man every day but I’m not perfect and being in Miami can get crazy at times.
Who are some of your rap influences?
E.C. Fresco: I grew up listening to Nas, Mobb Deep, Jay-Z, Wu-Tang, Biggie, The Lox, The Lost Boyz, CNN [Capone-N-Noriega], Dipset, etc. When I moved to Miami I started learning more about Dirty South and West coast music. Now I listen to it all…but Hip Hop is still my go-to choice.
Your collaboration with Tory Lanez recently got over 1 and a half million plays and counting on Soundcloud – who are some other artists on your collab wish list?
E.C. Fresco: I would like to [collaborate] with whoever is dope and that I could get along with because I don’t really get along with every rapper, but if the money is right I’ll give it a shot. I have also worked with A.Z., Yung Berg, and Mr.Cheeks who is like family to me. Me and Cheeks made a bunch of records together and will release them to the public soon. A new song featuring Tory Lanez and Trina was produced by me and Play Picasso as well and it should be releasing soon.
As far as beats and songwriting what/who are your influences in that area?
E.C. Fresco: Some of my favorite producers are DJ Premier, Alchemist, Heatmakers, Just Blaze, Dr.Dre, Kanye West, Timbaland and the list goes on and on…There are too many dope producers to name them all. I love playing keys but I’m still a sucker for a good soulful sample, depends how I’m feelin at the moment.
You make beats, write songs, rap, and run your own studio. How were you introduced to the world of music production and how did you learn and get started?
E.C. Fresco: I started making beats alone but then I started working with other producers like Steve Morales, Jesus Bobe and Justincredible. It helped me learn a lot. Lately, I have been working with Play Picasso who is a beast and we have been making some hits together.
What are some of your favourite programs or pieces of gear to use?
E.C. Fresco: I like to use Fruity Loops and Ableton now. Then I’ll run it through protocols to get it mixed. Some of the producers I work with use Logic as well – I like to learn them all so I can be well rounded in the studio. Came a long way from the Akai and sound modules.
What are your plans going into the future? Any new releases or shows coming up?
E.C. Fresco: I’ve been working on a lot of new music so you will be hearing a lot from me in the future. My new mixtape is almost done and will be released on [datpiff.com] soon. Meanwhile, make sure you didn’t miss my last mixtape (A Walk In My Shoes) which can be downloaded on datpiff. A new album with Mr.Cheeks should be on the way as well.