Rick Ross, “The Don” [Behind-the-Interview of XXL‘s July/August Cover]
First Attempt at Reaching Rick Ross:
Jayson Rodriguez: I think a couple of days after the photo shoot the [label] said, “[The interview] is going to go down tonight, be ready.” So I got my questions ready and I go—I stay around [the office] until 8:30 p.m. or something, then I got downstairs to 40/40 and I’m watching the Heat play Oklahoma, I keep checking my phone, nothing. I was going to wait for [Rick Ross’ team] to hit me. I was going to meet up with them at Jungle City studios on like 28th [street]. And at the same time we were going back and forth with Shaheem [Reid] ‘cause he was like, “I’m supposed to get up with Ross tonight, too.” Perfect. So then at that point if I was going to get with them in New York, I had this idea, like, I’d bring [Ross] a bottle of Ciroc and then we’ll sit and do the interview until we finish the bottle. So then the label kept saying, “Sit tight, it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.” Then I get hit up hearing that Ross is with Lyor Cohen. So I’m like, “Oh this shit ain’t happening.” So at around 11:30 p.m., the game’s over, I leave 40/40, I hit Shaheem. Shaheem’s like, “I don’t know, it may happen later.” So I’m like, “Fuck it, I’m going home.”
On Sunday, I came back to New York [from Club Paradise show in Philly], and Vanessa [Satten] [XXL's Editor-in-Chief] hits me like, “Yo, can you go to Miami tomorrow?” So later on that evening I get my flight information, and first thing Monday morning I go to Miami. When I hop on the plane I don’t even have any idea what the itinerary is, I have no idea where I’m staying. I land in Miami, still nothing. All I get from [Ross’ team] was that “it’ll be late.”
Mansion in Miami:
So then I go and grab something to eat, I get the email [saying], “Yo, Rick Ross is happening at 8 p.m.” They gave me the address and it’s in Davie, Florida. I’m in South Beach, so I Google the address and a post on Thisis50.com comes up and it’s like “Ross talks about this Miami shit, but [his spot] is an hour away from Miami.” And literally it’s this address on Thisis50. [Laughs]. At this point it’s like 6 something, the cab comes and he’s driving me like 45 minutes away from South Beach.
We arrive at [Ross’] place. It’s in a gated community, nice mansion, manicured lawn, there’s a truck out front with the promo wraps for Ross’ album and shit. I walk in and immediately I see Louis Vuitton carpeting, all kinds of professional sports memorabilia; Mike Tyson autographed photos, Dontrelle Willis signed baseballs, signed footballs.
So I go in the house and you can see the beautiful backyard, flat screen TVs on a baseball game. [It was around] 8 o’clock, so I’m flipping through the channels and I’m like, “Oh shit, Anderson Cooper’s on,” but then I was like, “Maybe I shouldn’t watch CNN at a rapper's house.”
It’s weird ‘cause the pantry was cracked a little bit so I see like Honey Nut Cheerios and I’m like, “Oh shit! He eats the same cereal I eat!” So then I’m on the couch with this dude, I don’t really peep who the dude is, and then shortly after 9 o’clock Ross comes in. No jewelry, no chains, no sunglasses, just a regular white tee, camo shorts, and some red Reeboks—he had a diamond watch on, that’s the only piece of jewelry he had on. He walks in and comes up to me like, “You good? You ready to do this? Just give me a few minutes.” And he’s like, “Yo, Dre! Show me that footage.” I’m like, “Wait, you’re Dre films? If I knew that was you the whole time I would’ve spoken to you.
One-on-One with Rick Ross:
So they’re going over the footage and Ross is like, “We got to get this ready tonight ‘cause I want to drop this in the morning.” So then he’s like, “Yo, you ready? Let’s do it. Come back here with me.” I walk into the studio—it’s Swisha Suites, as I described in the story. It’s painted all red up on the control panel. It’s cool ‘cause he had the Summer Jam program that XXL did. So we sit there, it’s him and me, the light in the booth is off and we just start. He gets an L in his hand and you know the whole time—if it was a narrative I would’ve wrote literally every two minutes you could hear the lighter flickering. He would light. And then puff, puff. Listen, listen, answer, done. Question. It was literally like that the whole time.
He was expansive, evasive at times—he had a lot of enthusiasm for the Maybach project, and he was very adamant. Like, ‘Yo, I’m going to play you music from the Maybach project.” Played me music and was like, “Got to tweet about it. Tweet about it. Talk about it.” He emphatically supported Stalley, Gunplay, too. I think because of his success with Wale and Meek, I think he’s excited to replicate that again with Stalley and Gunplay. Then he played me Omarion’s music and he’s like, “This is what he brought to me.” I was like, “Yo, this is dope,” and he’s like, “Yeah, that’s why I got him.”
Interviews, they’re like boxing matches. Jab, jab, let me try and go for this hook. So I ask him a couple of questions, he’s answering, then when I get around to some of the Def Jam stuff, you know, I ask him about the mixtape, Rich Forever. I asked, “I heard you wanted bread to put that out, and afterwards you wanted bread. I heard it was a negotiating tool that you used with Rich Forever," which is what he wanted ‘cause he wanted a new contract with Def Jam. When I brought that up, instead of light, light, it was light, light, light, holds and then exhales, “There’s some truth to that.” I thought, “I got him with that one!” [Laughs.]
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