Rick Ross: Bossin' Up
Its this presence that has brought a little-known rapper who called himself Tephlon Da Don to one of the most popular artists today. Having worked with everyone from Akon, Trey Songz and The-Dream to Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and Nas, Ross remains a consistent force on the airwaves, making his upcoming release Deeper Than Rap one of the most anticipated albums of the year. Perhaps because of this he has drawn the ire of the always-competitive 50 Cent but Rick Ross isnt here to talk about beef, nor any other controversy. Today, its all about business.
The Bawse took some time to chop it up with HipHopDX to discuss collaborations with Birdman and Nas, Chevrolet and his own label but you wont find anything about correctional officers here. From the way he talks, its clear that Ross prefers to remain above all the distractions. To put it in his own words, hes Bossin up.
HipHopDX: The Hip Hop industry is buzzing about how strong Deeper Than Rap is. How much does this word of mouth through the media help with the release?
Rick Ross: You know, people know classics when they hear em. For the people who might be unsure or unaware of the situation, it may shed a little light on it. But its nothing like picking it up yourself April 21st, you know?
DX: Do you think that it does more than the advertising?
Rick Ross: Well have to find out.
DX: Fair enough. Something that youre well-known for is your ear for production. How do you choose your beats?
Rick Ross: Its hard for me to really explain. Theres just a certain sound, and its the process where I put it together. It all comes together and [it has to] sound, you know, potent.
DX: What would you recommend to other rappers who have trouble picking quality production? What would you suggest?
Rick Ross: [Laughing] Oh, I aint got nothing to suggest for them. They gotta get it together!
DX: Dont want to help out the competition, huh?
Rick Ross: Yeah, they could just see me. Ill put something together for em.
DX: Yeah, get another check out of that!
Rick Ross: Of course, why not?
DX: When you arrived in 2005, a lot of people were critical of your lyrics. Now, the masses consider you a voice of the people. Then you go get a very lyrical guy like Nas on your album. Whats the chemistry like with him, and how, terms of rap lyrics, is there a link between those two generations?
Rick Ross: You know, its just me being a fan of Nas, first and foremost, that would make me want to collaborate with him or anybody for that matter. I just thought it made sense. The record, Usual Suspects, [click to listen] it turned out I couldnt be happier. I feel that by me being a fan of his, I understand where he come from. The energy that he put into my record, I feel that he understand where I come from. If there is a connection, its something that the people will have to put together.
DX: I dont want to touch on the 50 Cent thing too much because thats pretty played out, but how has the Internet changed the dynamics and tactics of beef, such as using cartoons and video?
Rick Ross: I think that for real dudes thats in the music industry it has very little appeal to us. My core fan base doesnt really entertain that kind of stuff. The majority of my fans dont even know there was a beef.
DX: What do you think about fans who criticize see videos on YouTube for beef, and say Just keep it on wax?
Rick Ross: Thats their opinion, and thats the era I come from, you know? It can be real, but as far the music, just make sure you stay on top of your music, and dont get caught up not making classic music. That should always be your focal point.
DX: You spent a lot of time in the late '90s with Erick Sermon, even appearing on Erick Onasis, billed as Tephlon Da Don. Recently you reached back to help E with his artist Vic. Given your success now, how do you look back on your time with the Def Squad?
Rick Ross: It was most definitely a learning experience. Being around a legend such as Erick Sermon [click to read], his production still being timeless, his ideas, and you know back then he was telling me different ways to flow, giving me concepts, so thats most definitely a plus when youre dealing with somebody whos a legend and did it as long as he has.
DX: What was the most valuable thing you learned from Erick Sermon?
Rick Ross: [Pauses] Im not sure. Im not sure. I most definitely vibed with him and put together a lot of records in his studio, and he gave me a lot of different pointers and records to build on, so I definitely salute him on that, and Im pretty sure I learned a lot of different things from him I just cant pinpoint one right now.
DX: Is there any word on the possibility of you doing an album with Birdman?
Rick Ross: Oh yes, most definitely. Were working on a film together right now. Weve got a few other people involved were still putting it together.
DX: Why do you two work so well together?
Rick Ross: I recognize him as being one of the great executives from the south, accomplishing a lot of things. We just kind of developed a bond over the years, being in the same studios them being in Miami a lot.
DX: Going back to your connections with Nas and Erick Sermon really quick, what do you attribute your connection to New York Hip Hop to, because a lot of southern artists stay working with southern artists, and the same goes for New York?
Rick Ross: I just feel like Im a fan of Hip Hop, first and foremost. When it comes to me collaborating, Im a hundred-and-fifty-percent hater-free. No matter where you from, what you do, if I love your music, I dont care if you Kid Cudi or OJ Da Juiceman it dont matter. If I like your music, I like your music. It dont matter how many records you sold or who you friends with, I aint with all that. I just collaborate with people Im fans of or who I feel I can make some hot shit with.
DX: Chevrolet is having some trouble, although youve devoted a lot of time making Chevys look cool. If they made you CEO of GM, what would be the first thing you do?
Rick Ross: Reproduce some of those 73 Impalas, convertibles, 71s probably reproduce some of those.
DX: Would you be in the commercials?
Rick Ross: Yeah, I could be in some commercials, its all good.
DX: With Mafia Music and Magnificent getting so much love, do you think you have the power to bring street singles back to the radio?
Rick Ross: I think anythings possible. I think that if youre an artist whos not scared to do the music you love, thats what you should do because you never know. When I do Mafia Music [click to listen], it aint even about the spins, its about me speaking my mind. Hopefully the people hear it, and its something they can ride with, so they attempt to take it to the radio.
DX: With the shirtless shots, don status persona and making both hard music and music for the ladies, do you think youre bringing back the elements of style that Hip Hop so dearly misses with Biggie?
Rick Ross: A lot of people make those references, and it would be natural for me to emulate Biggie in some form or fashion me being a diehard fan of his. And most definitely there needs to be a little class, a little dress-up sometimes to give people that energy and that vibe.
DX: I see that its coming out on Maybach Music Group your label. What are your plans for the label?
Rick Ross: Yeah, after this project, look for Triple Cs album thats coming. And like I said, were filming a couple short films, feature films, doing a lot of different things.
DX: What kind of films?
Rick Ross: Me and Birdman [click to read] are executive producing a film by the name of H, so look for that. Thats behind the scenes in production as we speak, and until then, were going to release a couple of short films.
DX: Howre films different from music for you?
Rick Ross: Were coming up with the same ideas, just a different format. Just creating the ideas and bringing them to life.
DX: Have you heard the Andy Samberg and Seth Rogen song Like A Boss?
Rick Ross: No I havent.
DX: You should check it out its very you. Anything else you want to get off your chest?
Rick Ross: April 21st, go get the album of the year!