It must be good to be the boss. While others are scrambling to eat in these trying times, Rick Ross is continuing to feast. The unofficial mayor of the M-I Yayo is starting off the new year by taking it back to the streets, linking with Atlanta’s own DJ Infamous for what promises to be the first of many collaborations on DJ Infamous Presents Rick Ross: Still The Trillest. XXLmag.com caught up with Ross and Infamous, to chop it up on the Boss’ return to the mixtape circuit, the corrections officer controversy and why his highly anticipated upcoming album is “deeper than rap.”
XXL: With you already being a platinum artist, what made you jump back into the mixtape ring ?
Ross: Because I do it for the love. To me, the mixtapes separate who’s just in it for a job and who has that love. I do this for everybody in the cracks and crevices, the corner stores, the gas stations and all that because they’re still important to me as well, to let them know I’m still with them. It’s more like a street album. It ain’t no deep concept, it’s just me going in saying what I need to say. You ain’t gotta really think of no hooks or nothing, but I impressed myself with the flows. I get enjoyment from doing #1 albums and still doing mixtapes just to show people it’s easy to me. You know the boss is always stepping his game up. Plus it’s just a gift to the bootleggers. We gon let them eat.
XXL: After the charges against DJ Drama, it seems like the mixtape game has yet to fully bounce back. Are you trying to pump some fuel back into the trade ?
DJ Infamous: Yea, the non-believers are going to see that it’s still strong and that it’s not dead. Ross doesn’t have to put out tapes, he’s a platinum artist. I don’t have to do tapes, I got the clubs. But we do it because the people are going to listen. We got over 100,000 downloads the first day we released it online, just off one site.
Ross: People are always fiending for the best music and we’re giving it to them. [Mixtapes] will never die. I love them. There’s nothing like getting a beautiful mixtape with a beautiful cover and popping it in. We’re just setting the bar now. Now they’ll be looking to us for the new slang and the new swag.
XXL: You’re throwing verses on a lot of already established records, some that people might not expect, like John Legend’s “Green Light.” You think the artists themselves will feel the addition ?
DJ Infamous: It’s a real good look for everybody. Nine times out of ten when that happens it becomes an unofficial remix for the artist…
Ross: You’d be surprised how many times I get calls offering me money to really get on the song. They hit me up and throw money bags at me for the Pro Tools session, just from a mixtape. These are bigger artists. Sometimes I’ll charge somebody 50K for the verse but then turn right around and do a verse for a lil up-and-coming young hustling nigga on the house.
XXL: Why do verses for free when you’re in high demand like that ?
Ross: Because I was unfortunate way longer than I was fortunate, you feel me? I know that struggle, all the yellow tape you gotta get through to make it. I might see something in somebody that makes me just wanna work with them. He might be a future soldier, a future comrade. We’re building an army out here. It’s big. It’s not just about capitalizing all the time. If you see somebody with a real legitimate shot, why not ?
XXL: Is it true that you’re also using this tape as a format to address the corrections officer controversy you’ve been involved with in the past year ?
Ross: I don’t have to address that. There’s been a lot of fabricated stuff floating around with that as well, but wherever I go, I leave a stamp of who I am. When you’re fake or phony, you run into a lot of issues and I don’t have any problems anywhere. You run into really getting exposed in the streets. These real corner niggas, red and blue niggas, street G’s recognize. I don’t have to entertain that. Another reason I never really addressed it was because I thought it made my story more compelling, true or not. When you have Hollywood producers calling, trying to sell your story for millions and it’s just off a rumor, that lets you know something. That let me know how big I was and how I was bigger than just my music. It’s deeper than rap.
XXL: Speaking of that, Deeper Than Rap is the title of your next album. You said that it’s going to be your third #1 record in a row. Do you feel like you’re the biggest artist in hip-hop right now ?
Ross: I’m most definitely the biggest artist in the game. My brand and my logo just speaks for itself. I had to really go overseas to appreciate it and know how big it was. We in places where they don’t even like niggas, don’t speak no English, but they know the words and the crowd is crazy. I want to be the standard that people are gauged by and still be able to walk in any club, from the booty clubs to the Grammys. When people think of me, I want them to remember that the boss brought some good business to the game. The new album is just going to solidify that. I’m so flamboyant with the way that I move, it’s just amazing. The new album is amazing. It’s big. I’m the face of the South.-Anthony Roberts