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March 24, 2017

How Eric Jenkins became Ricky Rocksford

A 50-minute interview with Eric Jenkins from July 2015 has sat on my recorder for a while. To put an end to Music Week on Citius Mag, I decided to revisit a conversation that took place with Jenkins days before he ran his 5,000 meter personal best of 13:07.33.

Jenkins was coming off an NCAA outdoor season in which he recorded runner-up finishes in the 5,000 and 10,000 before inking a deal with Nike. This was also before he chose to join the Nike Oregon Project and coach Alberto Salazar. 

More than anything, I was curious about his alter ego, Ricky Rocksford so that’s the first thing I asked.

“First off, great way to start the interview,” he replied.

Without further ado…here’s a throwback:

LEUVEN, 2015 – Professional runners have a lot of time to kill throughout the summer between races and training sessions. The luxury that comes with being based in Belgium is the accessibility to other cities and on a rainy and overcast July morning, a group of pros (many in their first summer abroad) decided to take a day trip to Bruges.

On the train ride up, Ford Palmer turned to Eric Jenkins and asked him to spit some bars. During that morning’s conversation, Jenkins’ brief rap career came up. Jenkins refused and went back to listening to the new Meek Mill album.

“Everyone asks you to do stuff like that and it kind of gets old,”

As a freshman in high school, Jenkins and his friends would freestyle for fun. On one occasion, they decided to record a few verses on one of their laptops. After a while, a rap video came out of it and Ricky Rocksford was born. Jenkins says there was no significance behind the name and he just chose it because it was catchy.

His early style was influenced by Mac Miller, although not much from him has caught Jenkins’ attention since Macadelic.

A music video for “Let You Go” [which you can watch above] was released on December 13, 2010. It follows Jenkins around Boston as he sings while listening to his iPod and stands in traffic. With two minutes and three seconds, Rocksford arrived and was just getting started. A month later, another music video was shared.

Much like music, running was just a hobby for Jenkins. He ran cross-country, once averaging nine miles per week going into his senior year, and then started track as a senior. Running in college was not much of a priority and he visited High Point in North Carolina before committing to coach Renny Waldron’s program at Northeastern.

Schoolwork and running started to pile up and music was put on hold in his freshman year. One day, he received a text from an upperclassman that informed him that Waldron had discovered Rocksford and Jenkins should stop by his office.

“I thought, ‘Oh man. This is going to be the most awkward meeting ever.’ But, in the end it wasn’t that bad,” Jenkins recalls. “All he said was ‘That’s the last video.’ Let’s just put it that way. It’s a funny little thing that keeps popping back up and part of the alter ego.”

At the 2014 NCAA Regional Cross-Country Championship, Jenkins sat toward the front of the leaders in a slow race. Jenkins was relaxed and caught wind of someone yelling Ricky Rocksford’s name.

“That was tight,” Jenkins says. “That was funny as hell. It’s always great hearing that.”

“I can never say Ricky Rocksford is dead,” Jenkins adds. “I’m not going to close that door yet. I’m not ready yet. Maybe I’ll come back hard with a video. It’s good to keep everyone on their feet.”

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