Rick Ross: Can’t Knock the Hustle [Full Story from October 2011 Issue]

1 of 30
  • RickRoss1_620
  • RickRoss2_620
  • RickRoss3_620
  • RickRoss4_620
  • RickRoss5_620
  • RickRoss6_620
  • RickRoss7_620
  • RickRoss8_620
  • RickRoss9_620
  • RickRoss10_620
  • RickRoss11_620
  • RickRoss12_620
  • RickRoss13_620
  • RickRoss14_620
  • RickRoss15_620
  • RickRoss16_620
  • RickRoss17_620
  • RickRoss18_620
  • RickRoss19_620
  • RickRoss20_620
  • RickRoss21_620
  • RickRoss22_620
  • RickRoss23_620
  • RickRoss24_620
  • RickRoss25_620
  • RickRoss26_620
  • RickRoss27_620
  • RickRoss28_620
  • #RickRoss8_415
  • #RickRoss6_410

Born William Leonard Roberts II in Mississippi, Ross was raised in Carol City, Florida, an area afflicted by grim poverty. Ross and his sister grew up living with their mother, who worked multiple jobs, the most prestigious being a nurse. Ross wandered into trouble as a kid, getting into the habit of breaking into houses, and paid a harsh price when people robbed his family’s home and torched it in retaliation. It was an awful truth to conceal. He, his mother and his sister were forced to move into a single motel room. When asked how long they stayed in those suffocating quarters, he exhales loudly.

“It was a good little minute,” he says, staring into space. “Fuck. That shit was the worst.”

Hip-hop offered an escape from such desperate surroundings. As a kid, Ross wrote lyrics and listened to rap, ranging from A Tribe Called Quest to Tela to Raekwon, on his knockoff Sony Sport Walkman. In music videos were glimpses of places that occasionally resembled what he witnessed from his own window. “When I saw Eric B. and Rakim walking through the grimy-ass streets of New York, it was like, Damn, that’s the kind of shit I live in,” he says. “I used to love Ice Cube when I saw them niggas driving jeep Isuzus through the ghetto with curly perms. I felt they struggle. Those were the niggas I looked up to. For me to idolize you, you had to first start with nothing. You had to live in the conditions we were living in—that way it was fair grounds.” There were also promises of a better life. “Muthafuckas where I came from were always mean, mad, upset, crazy, hair nappy, dreads and shit,” he says. “Me listening to The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, seeing muthafuckas in good moods, telling stories—I was blowed away. I remember Cool C and the Hilltop Hustlers.

I remember them niggas wearing Bally’s and silk suits, [thinking,] Damn, that’s how I wanted to dress right there.”

Most rap listeners were introduced to Ross when his anthemic 2006 single “Hustlin’ ” broke nationally, but the title of the track applies as much to his rap career as it does to distributing cocaine with “the real Noriega.” In an era when a teenager with skinny jeans can post up a video on Tumblr and rack up a million YouTube views in a week, Ross is a member of an older caste that plowed barren dirt for years without seeing much in return. He boasts of being rich without rap, but his résumé reflects someone deeply dedicated to finding a toehold in the hip-hop game. In 2000, he signed with Tony Draper’s Suave House label, a deal he now calls “the most fucked-up record deal in the history of the music business”; his debut album, Rise to Power, was put on hold. Later, Ross linked up with Jazze Pha and recorded in peripheral studio spaces while artists like T.I. and 8Ball & MJG worked in the main rooms. He signed with Slip-N-Slide in 2002 and ghostwrote lyrics for Trina. It was a frustrating time. “It took me longer than a lot of muthafuckas,” says Ross. “I was running around the industry, writing songs here and there for different muthafuckas who heard I was lyrical, but coming from a space where they ain’t really know what to do with me in Miami.” Once, when Ross learned reps from Atlantic Records were in town, he was confident his time had come. “Yo, they signed Pretty Ricky,” he says, shaking his head. “What the fuck? Okay, I wish y’all little niggas much success, but I’m finna show these muthafuckas. I’ma punish the game. That was my inspiration.”

When Rick Ross finally got his chance, he didn’t squander it. Led by the singles “Hustlin’ ” and “Push It,” his 2006 debut album, Port of Miami, sold almost one million copies and established him as a leading figure in the burgeoning coke-rap genre. His second album, 2008’s Trilla, sold another 750,000-plus units and yielded a single with T-Pain, “The Boss,” that still stands as his biggest mainstream hit. Amid a scandal touched off by photos that proved he had worked as a correctional officer, and a flurry of taunts from 50 Cent, the following year’s Deeper Than Rap fared less well. But it was his most artistically adept album up to that point, earning some strong reviews, and was, in retrospect, an indication of what was to come.

The elevation of Ross’s stature during the last year can be attributed to the most simple of reasons: He has been making thrilling music. Some recent hits from Teflon Don—like “I’m Not a Star” or “MC Hammer”—are insistent bundles of ricocheting snares, nasty synths and declarative hooks. These records are punctuated with grunts and hoots, ad-libs that have become key components of the Rozay aesthetic. In July, Atlanta’s Yung Joc even dropped “Ugh,” a song built around Ross’s sonic calling card. “I been to performances, and they want those more than the lyrics,” Ross says. “They want that ‘Hunngh!’ ”

But other records convey a lushly layered, almost orchestral musicality. There is depth—emotional and sonic—to Teflon Don that Ross had only hinted at on his earlier albums. He has improved at songwriting and constructing cohesive albums, while branding Maybach Music’s sound as simultaneously aggressive and soulful.

FOR MORE RICK ROSS, GO TO PAGE 3

  • Pingback: hiphop » Rick Ross: Can’t Knock the Hustle [Excerpt From October 2011 Issue] – XXLMAG.COM

  • bullets

    Fuck you mean it doesnt matter? It doesnt matter that your influencing young people to hustle in a time where you cant make money off of hustling? Its ok to portray a lifestyle someone can easily imitate and die while you’ll never go to jail for recording? Its not OK is Ross talented YES! He could easily write deeper songs especially with the beats he rides but dont you dare promote fake thuggin saying stupid shit like it doesnt matter you fucking magazines are worst than the news sometimes, everytime you write something stupid like that just remember impressionable young mindds read this crap…..

    • $yk

      realest comment I’ve seen in a while here not submitted by me…co-sign x100…trust the populous saw it…keep going…

    • talkshit

      so because Ross raps about dealing dope, automatically every young person is going to deal dope too? If so, don’t blame fucking Ross blame the parents that don’t know to raise their children to have a mind of their fucking own. I admit he does have to the platform to promote something better but it’s ENTERTAINMENT

      • $yk

        then you should know that the ENVIRONMENT has just as much of an influence on a young mind as the parenting will…parents CANNOT be around their children EVERY SINGLE MOMENT.

        So since you admitted he COULD be speaking on something different, why not ask WHY DOESN’T he, instead of letting it slide?

        Like floridaborn said down there, dudes are brainwashed…y’all will let a cat sell you oregano…and let him tell you it’s kush, when you KNOW it’s oregano…but the baggy he’s got it in makes it look official so you take it home and STILL try to tell yourself it’s kush…when you KNOW it’s oregano.

        If all else, your parents told you to stand up for something, or fall or ANYTHING…

        • jimmyjam33

          eminem used to rap about raping and killing his own mother, murdering people and shit. bet u dont bitch bout tht. only reason dude turned all cute and cuddly is cos relapse flopped. its all sales.people pick and choose who they want to hate on. its has nothing to do with any ritcheous cause either.

          • blank

            nigga please relapse did not flop, secondly you cant compare ricky to Em couse Em was a real street cat, ross is just a phony

  • josh

    I really want to read the rest of this, just to see how he responds to being called fake, because he totally is. It’s factual.

  • ryan

    How can you be number 1 when you’re big enough for 3 people?

  • Screwed Up Click

    Trust me dude wouldnt be fuckin with alot
    of people here in the industry if he really was
    fake take for instance ja rule made hitz and
    had huge numbers but 50 made fun of him
    no expose or anything of some recent employement
    before the rap game either way if that indeed
    happen how would it have hurt ja rule was called
    out on singing thats it and all fans left the building
    and that was it just because somebody is a gangter
    in da damn club come on dude ran up on by ja like three times
    but yet ja rule was still the pussy whats up with that
    what im tryin to get at is that if ross really indeed have a
    fake life before the rap game he wouldnt have had a
    careeer in the rap game when he started
    motherfuckeers just hatin on the biggest boss in the game
    admit it you would love to be in the position Ross is in
    even That other Real Snitch FREEWAY RICKY ROSS wanna be like him but cant get anybody to back him up but some fag named HDickryda
    Im Out N go buy all maybach music artists records
    there all worth it and are all relevant like it or not

    • floridaborn

      awhe man.. You are a sad sad little boy if you honestly believe what you just said. Ja rule was about as real as a 48 dollar bill. His fans were middle white America, presumably what you are, that believed his 2pac imitation. Ross has already beenexposed for being a corrections officer, a picture was put up by dj vlad, and he admitted himself in a radio interview that that was his past life and he “did what he had to do” Video was included before you say it wasn’t him. You must have just got into S.U.C cause any old head that’s been into rap would see right through this phonie.

      Damn rap is really brainwashing these simple minded people..

  • Pingback: hiphop » Rapper Rick Ross Weighs In on Anthony Weiner – Gawker

  • Swang Ryda

    Dude i know dude was exposed for being a c.o. but
    for a year not like he was doin it years to come pussy
    you a brainwashed hata get ya papa up son come on
    ova trust me IF YOU SAYIN S.U.C. AINT FUCKIN WITH
    ROSS THEN YOU A FUCKIN HATA I CAN NAME THREE
    OF THE TOP SCREWED UP MEMBERS THAT HAVE WORKED
    WITH HIM AND OTHERS OUTSIDE OF THE SCREWED UP
    CLICK THAT HAVE WORKED WITH HIM
    TRAE
    Z-RO
    LIL FLIP
    BUN B AND PIMP C
    SLIM THUG AND KILLA KYLEON
    WHAT U GON SAY HE FAKE N THEY JUST
    WANTED TO MAKE MONEY OFF OF HIM
    GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE HATA
    AND GIVE THE MAN THE RESPECT HE
    DESERVES AND ALL OF HOUSTON FUCKS
    WITH RICKY ROZAYS MATERIAL SO
    WHAT THE FUCK YOU GOTTA SAY BITCH
    U OVER THERE BRAINWASHED OFF THEM
    FAKE NIGGAS T.I. AND GRAND HUSTLE SHIT

  • digisnacks

    regardless ross is a wack rapper. people will do songs wit anyone if tha money and song is right

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    Phonte said it Best, “I rap because I love HIP HOP, NAH I rap cause i got bills”

    be F’n real.

    Rick ross doing everything in his Will to put money in his pocket and food on the table. People always holla I want that real hip hop…

    …look at how many Style P Phonte 9th Wonder Slauhterhouse and etc cds sold…

    now look at how many lil wayne cds sold.

    YOU CAN’T KNOCK the HUSTLE.

    rick ross makes good not great music and rhyming about “real” stuff might be out of his element and might bankrupt the dude..especially if he aint real. in fact, maybe he is so fake that its real to HIM.

    at the end of the day it is music. and nobody gets on any other genre of music or movies. the dude is an artist and hip hop heads are the worse for putting its artist in a pigeon hole.

  • moneoverall

    everybodys commints are kinda irrelevant if dont agree that this man rick ross makes good music even if you think that he is a fake drug lord……..even all of the boss this and boss that…….and being a correctional officer none of you of you lame mufukas could ever put together any of the classics that were on the teflon don……… maybach music 3 touched my soul

  • http://volvoxc70.net/ Volvo XC70

    Hey there just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.