Among the artists competing at the next Sanremo Festival, from 7 to 11 February 2023, is – for the first time – Rosa Chemical. Rapper with an iconoclastic verve, imposed by strokes of syncopated sounds and abrasive lyrics, channelled into tracks with millions of streams such as the gold disc Polka, Britney, London and TikTok (together with Radical). But he is also a chameleonic performer, determined to challenge the prevailing machismo – according to him – in Italian music with flamboyant looks, including discoloration, glitter and marked make-up, a (former) Gucci model, a skilful polemicist (he has attacked ‘political correctness’, as it merely bans certain words or flaunts support for the LGBT cause, deluding itself into believing it is curbing homophobia), intent, however, on confronting the general public, recently reached thanks to his duet with Tananai on the stage of Sanremo 72, on the night of the covers.
Rosa Chemical, nom de plume of Manuel Franco Rocati, is all of that and more, and so it is rather complicated to account for his many facets, both artistic and personal; we have tried, asking a few questions to the 24-year-old singer, originally from Grugliasco, from Turin area, who described himself, in an interview with Repubblica, as ‘a sort of an alien’.
“I think I’m one of the few in Italy who does what he wants, without worrying about the judgement of the public and colleagues”
An album (with an added deluxe edition was later added), an EP, featuring – among others – Gué Pequeno, Ernia, Tananai, Gianna Nannini, a series of viral hits on Spotify and YouTube… A song, or more than one, to which you are particularly attached, which you think fully expresses your artistic signature.
Definitely Boheme, written for a person who does not know she is the protagonist and will never find out, who made me experience intense emotions. There never was a story between us, but the feelings I felt inspired the right words to write one of the most beautiful songs of my career so far. It is also the first song I worked on with Bdope after a few nights of transgression and rock’n’roll. I have a pleasant memory of that track.
An alien (like the one in your single) lands in Italy and encounters Rosa Chemical: how would you describe your music to him?
It’s too difficult to describe my music without shooting myself in the foot, my art contains a lot of bipolarity; there are those who call it versatile and those who say I do everything, but I think I’m one of the few in Italy who does what he wants, without worrying about the judgement of the public and colleagues.
In some interviews, you have railed against the machismo that the rap scene is still imbued with and the hypocrisy of political correctness. From these points of view, what is the state of the art of the Italian music scene in 2022?
Critical, nothing has changed since the last interview where I spoke about it. Fortunately, I’m back to save the country once again.
“Fashion has always been my obsession, another possibility, besides art and music, to tell people who look at me that I have style, that I am different”
You have posed and walked the runway for Gucci, collaborated with Danilo Paura, you are a ‘super fan of handbags’ and prefer ‘flashy accessories’. What is your relationship with fashion, in the broadest sense of the word?
Fashion has always been my obsession, another possibility, besides art and music, to tell people who look at me that I have style, that I am different. I’ve always tried to take the rules and break them to my heart’s content, ever since the days when I felt like gabber and looked for the most stylish Australian blouses, or, in my metal phase, I wanted the longest studs, the coolest trench coats, the blackest eyeshadows; now I go from moments of feeling feminine, and so I look for a Valentino bag or a Prada jacket, to others when I feel more masculine and wear ‘full’ Saint Laurent or go for the Maison Margiela look. I am a lover of everything that brings innovation.
What can we expect in the future from an artist who has made eclecticism, of esthetic funambulism (also) his trademark?
I have always advised people not to expect anything from me, as I only do what I feel like, really. All I can tell you is that lately, I’ve been feeling very shiny! 😉
Talent Rosa Chemical
Editor in Chief Federico Poletti
Text Marco Marini
Photographer Kali Yuga
Stylist Simone Folli
Grooming Mara Bottoni
Opening image: Rosa Chemical wears total look Dolce&Gabbana, earrings Radà, handpiece Myril Jewels, boots Sonora