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Rick Ross Is a Backpacker

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Don’t let Rick Ross's luxury brand name-dropping fool you. There's more to the rotund MC than meets the eye. Last year, weeks after Rozay and Maybach Music Group issue hit stands, Ben Detrick the writer of the Ross story—stopped by the XXL offices and shared anecdotes on some of the conversations he had with the MMG Bawse. To let Ben tell it, there was some rap nerd talk. Ricky’s since been letting his Louis Vuitton backpack show a bit. Here, XXL lists five reasons why Rozay may be a backpacker on the low. —XXL Staff (@XXL)

He Rapped on a Jake One Beat

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A track featuring Dr. Dre and Jay-Z mandates triumphant horns—preferably commissioned from a super producer, or Dre himself to make the track that much more epic. Instead, Ross opted for Jake One—a boardsman who made a name for himself crafting tracks for the likes of De La Soul, Planet Asia and DJ Babu. Sure, Jake’s landed placements with G-Unit and released a full-length project with Freeway, but he's still primarily recognized as one of the underground’s best producers. And Ross used his beat for a grand collabo.

Shoutouts to Guru of Gang Starr

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Nothing’s accidental with Ross. Rich Forever’s “Keys to the Crib” features another nod to Golden Era greats: Gang Starr. “I’m a Guru in the kitchen, whipping mass appeal,” he rhymed, referencing the late great Keith Elam and the lead single to Gang Starr’s 1994 Hard to Earn LP. It’s as if Rozay tried breaking the perception that southern rappers weren’t into “real” hip-hop. It worked.

The "Amsterdam" Beat

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Though produced by Cardiak, this track sounds like a lost track off Little Brother’s Chitlin Circuit, Jean Grae's Jeanius, one of Murs’s 9th Wonder-produced LPs, or something Elzhi should tear to pieces.

He Signed Wale and Stalley

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Wale signing to MMG initially took fans by surprise. Word was that the D.C. MC didn’t exactly fit in a crew led by a street-oriented MC like Ross. Young Folarin’s never been the prototypical backpacker, but his content and super lyrical ideology are more Okayplayer than MMG. The same goes for Stalley. And Ross signed them both.