Coming out of UMass Amherst, Rico Cocchi has the advantage of the party scene. From performing at UMass’s Oktoberfest to being involved in Greek life, he is creating party vibes with his smooth lyrics and vocals. Originally from Western Massachusetts, the up-and-coming rapper is starting to break into the scene with a huge 2019 planned. He has a concert in Boston this upcoming weekend as well as opening for Lil Durk later this month. Before he headed back for another semester, he found time to sit down with us and discuss his music and plans for the future.
Colossus Music: Start off by telling us a little about yourself! How did you get into rapping?
Rico Cocchi: I will start from way back. In high school, I joined a music group that was super competitive. They didn’t normally let any freshmen in, but I made it in still. From that, I ended up doing a lot of shows around the northeast. We ended up even going on tour in Germany and Austria which still blows my mind. That gave the foundation for music. Once I got to college though I dropped it for a bit because things just felt kind of different. Then my friend and I started freestyling all the time and decided to drop a song. Within the first day, it had nearly 7,000 plays on SoundCloud and I was like ‘Oh shit I’ll pick up music again!’ I started doing it just for fun but then started making a little money and realized it’s what I love doing and why not get amazing experiences out of it.
CM: That’s awesome and you’re opening for Lil Durk soon, correct?
RC: Yeah that was a crazy offer that I got. That’s on Sunday, January 20th on MLK weekend and then I also have my first headliner coming up in Boston on January 12th. Right back to back I got some shows I’m doing!
CM: So where did your inspiration growing up come from? Was it a lot of hip-hop? I can imagine your music group in high school was more of a singing group than anything.
RC: Yeah it was exactly that. It was not rap at all which is pretty funny. I remember listening to 50 Cent doing bicep curls in my room by myself. That’s where it all started really when I was 7 or so. Especially that “In Da Club” music video! I would write some raps just for fun but I never really did anything with it. My mom listens to country but I hated country, I could never listen to that, and my dad listens to rock. Where I came up with rap I really don’t know.
CM: Who were you listening to in hip-hop as a kid?
RC: It started with 50 Cent and Eminem. Obviously, they were pretty heavy hitters in terms of rap. I also listened to Sammy Adams. Him being a kid from Boston, I saw a lot of similarities between him and me. Mike Stud, G-Eazy, Drake, and Kanye as well, how could I forget them. Those are really the main five I would say!
CM: Is that the style you are pushing towards? Not necessarily R&B but more of a vibed out hip-hop sound?
RC: 100% yes! I totally respect people who have incredible lyrics and are just going in for three minutes straight but that’s just not me personally. I like making party vibes and things along that level. Sammy Adams and Mike Stud definitely have that college party vibe. I would love to eventually get a song with them or something! Drake and Kanye can both spas when they want to but also have great melodies and solid radio songs.
CM: You even did a remix of A Boogie wit da Hoodie’s “My Shit” too!
RC: Yeah that was the first song I put out by myself! My friend and I were putting out songs together but I decided to do my own on that one. That’s really what I did when I was younger too. I would take popular songs and write my own lyrics to them. From there I started making my own!
CM: There’s a clip on your Instagram of your performance at the Middle East Downstairs in Boston and you’re repping a Mookie Betts jersey. We discussed Sammy Adams but are you listening to a lot of the rappers coming out of Massachusetts? Cousin Stizz, Michael Christmas, all those guys?
RC: Sammy Adams is definitely the biggest Boston influence I take from but I do also listen to Cousin Stizz. I mean that guy is ridiculous! I definitely respect the Boston rap game. Plus Joyner Lucas is from Central Mass. Lot of solid people coming out of the state.
CM: Speaking of Massachusetts, you go to UMass Amherst. That is a huge party school! How much has that helped with your growth? Are you performing at a lot of small parties and events?
RC: I have to give a lot of credit to UMass. That’s like my second home and I’m part of the fraternities who are very supportive. At first, everyone was like ‘Okay this is new let’s see what happens’ but now they are super supportive and I have a lot of sorority girls that support me too. We actually had a show that’s called Oktoberfest that’s purely about music and beer. That had 2,800 people there and I was the highest selling act at that which was in front of a UMass crowd. They really do support and help me get to a higher level.
CM: Is there a big music scene at UMass? Are there other rappers or is it mainly just you?
RC: It’s really not that big. There are maybe three or four other guys that are doing their own thing. I wouldn’t say UMass has a good music program honestly. The scene is good but could definitely be better. I know UMass Lowell has studios and production classes so I am assuming there are a lot more artists out there.
CM: Are you getting into the studio a lot? You’ve put out three singles in 2018 independently so how are those getting recorded?
RC: Initially I started off with this crazy home studio set up. I had pillows on the ground and blankets on the walls trying to cancel the noise. Luckily, UMass actually has a recording room. It’s not the best but it definitely gets the job done and I mainly have been going there. Last year I could walk in anytime I wanted and get a room for a couple hours but now you have to reserve a room a couple days in advance. That might mean the music scene is picking up more than I thought. Since I am a student I get it for free which also never hurts.
CM: When you are going into the studio are you going in prepared or are you just spitting over some beats and seeing what you like?
RC: Mainly, I go to the studio because I have lyrics that I want to record. At the same time, a lot of experimenting does happen there because sometimes it sounds nothing of how I wanted it to. Back in the summer is when I wrote a lot of the music because I am so close [to UMass] that no one is there. That’s really when I can sit down for four or five-hour spans and just really vibe out.
CM: And are you working with producers or are you making all this beats yourself?
RC: Oh nahhh! I’m working with producers because that is a whole other animal. I really respect people that can make there own beats! I have producer friends that have been helping me out with that which is my main route.
CM: Bit of a curveball but a standard question now for the Sit Down Series. If you could have a meal or drinks with any three musicians, alive or dead, who would they be? And why?
RC: Jeeze! I’m trying to think of some legends. Michael Jackson would be one. Obviously, he is so intriguing and such a monumental figure in music. Now I need a rockstar, someone from a different genre. I probably would have to go with Drake for rap just because he is a monster celebrity and seems to control everything. It would be interesting to get his take on things. Honestly, my mom really liked Janis Joplin and I would probably just have to sit down with her to be able to tell my mom what she is like. Those would be my three.
CM: Is there anywhere specifically you would want to take them?
RC: Non-specifically I would take them to Greece or Italy and just have an elegant meal. But really nowhere specific. Maybe I would take them to a bad restaurant like Hooters.
CM: Last question! You’ve dropped singles in 2018, have an opening for Lil Durk coming up plus some other shows and events. What’s next for Rico Cocchi? What should we expect in 2019?
RC: That is a really great question. I have been kind of holding back a bit. I have a lot of shows planned. I’m sure everybody will say this but I really believe 2019 is a whole different caliber from 2018. My biggest priority in terms of shows is to have a headliner in every state in the northeast. I also want to try and do as many shows with big acts like Lil Durk as possible. I have a couple more of those set up but I can’t say them yet. Also way more music, a single every month minimum, plus some music videos to put out and grow on social media. I was working with a team, originally it was all myself and still mainly is, but I have some people to bounce ideas off of and we are really heading in the right direction. I truly believe the number of opportunities to grow is going to be ten times greater than they were last year! That’s my plan!