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

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Regarded by the cognoscenti as a one-trick pony for much of his career, Ross has finally begun receiving critical acclaim. One New York Times critic ranked Teflon Don as the best album of 2010. Pitchfork.com, the notoriously picky music site, gave it an excellent 8.0/10 and wrote, “Sometimes a guy who was underrated, underappreciated and even considered a joke…generates so much momentum they eventually become undeniable.” On God Forgives, I Don’t, Ross is planning to duplicate the feat. It will be another short, “highly concentrated” album, he says, reminiscent of his last effort. “When I make music, I go back to my late nights of me by myself, listening to Curtis Mayfield or R. Kelly’s 12 Play. There’s certain depths that music can take you to. There’s certain feels that you need to have. When you get to the last song on the album, I want you to have that feeling of being whole. I want to give these muthafuckas classic joints. That means more to me than anything else.”

For all of Ross’s omnipresence on the streets, clubs and urban radio over the last year, it hasn’t translated into monumental sales or commercial radio play. Teflon Don has sold a little over 650,000 copies, a solid but less-than-blockbusting number. “Aston Martin Music” and “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” topped out at 50th and 60th, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The wave of cocaine-centric rappers who emerged in the mid-2000s—a class that included Ross, Jeezy, Gucci Mane and Clipse—subsided, and a gentler, more whimsical group, led by Drake, Nicki Minaj, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean and Kid Cudi, flooded in. From a commercial standpoint, have gangsta rappers become dinosaurs? “Most definitely times have changed,” Ross says. “But that increases my value for what I do right now. Because the streets will never change. No matter what the climate in the music industry, muthafuckas still in the struggle, for real, that’s tapped into that. If everybody in the mainstream ain’t catch on, they’ll catch the next one.”

Members of Ross’s crew—his manager, his DJ, his videographers, his security—call him “The Bawse,” or simply “Bawse.” It is a title taken literally. After the Chicago concert, some of these young men lounge in the front of his tour bus, flipping between a preseason NFL game and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Word is sent from the back that The Bawse has a hankering for Popeyes. Again. There is some grumbling, but everyone respects the hierarchy. “Let’s not be selfish; it’s for The Bawse,” says DJ Sam Sneak, a skinny dude with Foamposites, a Fendi belt and two vicious scars raking down his left cheek. “Make it happen.”

Soon the bus is freighted with enough deep-fried poultry to feed a small battalion.

Ross’s sphere of influence has grown to include the Maybach Music Group stable of artists—a collective that, like Young Money or G.O.O.D. Music, has little loyalty to any specific philosophy, sound or geographical region. Wale is from D.C.’s street-wear and go-go scene. Meek Mill is a classic blood-and-guts Philly spitter. Pill is an Atlanta rapper who merges social commentary with street narratives. Stalley is an everyman from Ohio. “We have different styles and come from different parts of the U.S., but we tell the same story,” Stalley says. “We were self-made artists who did what we had to do to get our music heard.” He believes Ross is headed for historical heights. “He’s on his way to being Kanye, Jay-Z status,” he says. “To be involved with that is a beautiful thing.”
Ross describes “spirit” and “energy” as the character attributes he values most in members of his camp. “To me, it don’t matter where you from,” he says. “I come from a time and place when Miami wasn’t the most poppin’. Everybody wasn’t as eager to open they door, give you a hand. For me to be in this position, I want to make sure I do the opposite that a lot of these niggas did.”
According to Forbes’s list of hip-hop’s top earners, Ross made $6 million over the past year. This pales in comparison to Jay-Z ($37 million) or Diddy ($35 million), but it clearly allows for a comfortable lifestyle. Ross says he smokes an ounce of weed daily. He is on his fifth Rolls-Royce and recently bought a yacht. The dressing room on his bus is strewn with luxury items from Louis Vuitton and Gucci. A cache of jewelry—two Jesus pieces, a diamond-covered Audemars Piguet watch, a pinky ring, colored beads—is laid out on the bedspread next to him.

“I’m stacking my money, but there is a side of me that love to fuck up money,” Ross says of his lavish spending. “I could spend $100,000 in one day, just ballin’. If I’m fuckin’ with a chick, I want this chick to know all them niggas is losers compared to me, baby. You gonna eat good with me. I’m gonna put you up on these $10,000 Birkin bags.”

This is not enough. “I want to do that,” Ross says, pointing up at the TV screen. It’s a scene from Blow, a film about a cocaine kingpin, where Johnny Depp is rolling on the floor in heaps of dollar bills. “Wait ’til we buy a piece of the Miami Dolphins,” Ross says. “Sitting in the box with the majority owners, smoking cigars. They’ll say, ‘He’s smart.’ ” He snorts. “You just slow.” Beneath the TV are DVD cases for Pretty Woman and Exit Through the Gift Shop, a movie about a street-art documentarian who fools the public into thinking he himself is the authentic article. There are a dwindling number of critics still grumbling that Ross has pulled off a similar caper, but everyone else just wants that “Hunngh!”

**PICK UP THE OCTOBER 2011 ISSUE, ON STANDS NOW**

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  • 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..

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  • 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

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