Rick Ross: Who's The Boss?
In older times, Rick Ross might still be working his previous works to multi-platinum status and fifth or sixth singles. In today's cutthroat climate, Ross has to contend with Young Jeezy, T.I. and The Clipse for the crown of "dope boy rap," and a strong connection with the youth.
During a brief conversation with HipHopDX, Ross explains the challenges of a fast transition, what Michael Jackson means to him and a unique, street-embedded friendship with D-12's Bizarre. When you get to Miami, Rick Ross says he already knows you're there. Nearly 20 years after Luke's 2 Live Crew, some rap fans had no idea that Miami mattered till it knew Ross was there.
HipHopDX: What correlation do you see between your album and Michael Jacksons Thriller?
Rick Ross: Just me wanting to be Michael Jackson when I was a kid, and me picking up that vinyl and spinnin those records, and single-after-single, record-after-record was just it was a masterpiece. That inspired the title of my album, and I wanted to catch that electricity again.
DX: Musically, did you go for an updated sound as well?
RR: Most definitely. I wanted to step everything up. Thats why I reached out to R. Kelly for the first single. I got Marsha [Ambrosious] from Floetry to come in and help get the females on my team. She did a lot of work with Michael Jackson. When I was working with her, I thought about that. We laughed, we chopped it up, we just had fun. We put together some real big records. This album is going to be much better than Port of Miami and possibly the best album of the year.
DX: Those are powerful words. Although it struggled with big album sales, a lot of us consider your debut a classic, and one of the better offerings from last year. Because that was only a year and a half ago, and because it was received so warmly, what will you do to ensure that it still finds new fans?
RR: I cant do an interview without mentioning Port of Miami. I watch a lot of artistsI released that album a year and three months ago. For this promo tour Im doing now, I had to cancel some booked shows. I look at it as a blessing to a testament of how the streets embrace me, my music and [Port of Miami]. With Trilla, from the intro to the outro, I made sure I stepped my game up. Because theres nothin like walkin in a packed house somewhere, thousands of miles away from where youre from, in a city you never imagined of being in, and these people love your music. Thats why I do it.
DX: On the heels of that album, another Rick Ross album, Rise To Power, released. Weve seen that with Snoop, with Juvenile and The Game. Did it bother you that Suave House Records was trying to capitalize off of the success that they couldnt give you?
RR: I knew what it was. Those were songs that I did in 97, 98. I got my first deal in 98, 99 with Suave House Records. Me and [Suave House CEO] Tony Draper, we was real cool. We had a great business relationship. Him and his company fell under hard times, and thats what it was. But when he the opportunity, he came back like a G, we chopped it up, and it was all good. He put the songs out, and he told me he was gonna be promoting it. It was just meaning so much to him, cause he saw this happening years before it happened. So to see Rick Ross, with two singles, do what I didhe was still sitting on a lot of music. Its the only project that he will release, and I was cool with that. Hes still one of my cool dudes. I wish him the best.
DX: Last year Def Jam flooded the fourth quarter with a bundle of releases. Last year, you were released into open waters. Does it bother you to be going against, so to speak, your boss Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel, Ghostface, all these peopleis this crowded release schedule beneficial to you?
RR: Most definitely. You already know, its a competitive game. If you want to compete, youd better be ready to compete with the best. I was fortunate enough to be on a lot of big records and stay hot. The anticipation is there. Everywhere I go, I rock. I feel real good about all the releases thats coming. Im fans of Beanie Sigel and Freeway and Jay-Z. So hopefully all the consumers thats like myself, who cant wait for all these artists, it is what it is.
DX: You and Freeway both took your names from a similar place. Will we ever see a collaboration?
RR: Oh yeah! We just filmed a video last week for his album, Lights Get Low. Thats Freeway featuring Rick Ross. Then me and Free did a record for my album entitled Mecca of the Trill. Most definitely were collaborating. Im a fan of his. Were real Gs, and real Gs do real things.
DX: I read liner notes. In Bizarres liner notes for Blue Cheese n Coney Island, he mentioned the love that you and the Carol City Cartel showed him. That seems an unusual union to some people. Can you expound on your friendship?
RR: Bizarre, hes from Detroit and Chicago, and I got some real street partners out there. One of the dudes that hes doing music with now is one of my partners from the street, that I go way back with. When he came aboard [Bizarres] label or whatever, I embraced all that. Thats how real Gs do; thats how real families do. Thats the same way I do it with Cool & Dre and DJ Khaled. Everywhere I go, I run across some real dudes and we keep it trill, we develop that, and we stay down. Anytime you come to Miami, as soon as you land in the airport, Ima know when you get there anyway. So if you my people, your bellman or your [luggage carrier] might just hand you the phone and say, Youre talkin to a boss.
DX: One of my favorite lines you ever spit was in the Push It (Remix), where you said, I followed my dreams, put God first / Mama said you get what you want, when you put in hard work. Whats that mean to you?
RR: That goes back to when youre watching your mom with two or three jobs come in and out, but shes holding her head up and shes going hard. Shes letting you knowshes telling you, as a child, shes sacrificing all this for you. Thats all I took from that. The remix, that was just something I wanted to do. I reached out to Bun B, The Game and some other dudes Im cool with. We did it, and that line, I just had to reflect that and let her know, after all the success, I remember those same principles.
DX: Whats good with the status on The Mi-Yayo DVD, and the business beyond the music?
RR: You already know, man. Other than Trilla dropping on December 18, my squad Carol City Cartel will be coming next, around April or May. They got the big buzz in the south everywhere they go. The DVD, were wrapping that up right now. Were gonna try to release that at the top of the year its a Top Ten countdown of the biggest street dudes. A lot of them, I was alright with. The majority of them, I was young and heard a lot about them. I met a lot of their family members or whatever; were running in the same circles. Its just an opportunity to show that other side of the bridge and bring people closer to where Im from and give them a closer look on Rick Ross.