RESPECT. Rick Ross Cover Story

Image: Dustin Cohen

Guess it’s time for me to show love to you cheapskates. Here’s my Rozay cover story from the latest issue of RESPECT. You’re all welcome. Ha! Got to Respect-Mag.com for exclusive photos from our phenomenal shoot.

Untouchable

A cop? The King of Hip-Hop? Rick Ross has withstood character assassination that would’ve crippled a lesser man. Instead, he’s overcome all the hate and made greater music. Success sure does silence critics.

Words: ELLIOTT WILSON

Rick Ross is lost in the music. Grooving to the sounds of his own voice, the man who gave himself the nickname “Rozay” is out to prove he is indeed a photographer’s dream. With toke after toke from his Swisher blunt and sips from a red cup filled with Ciroc and lemonade, Ross is reveling in all the surroundings behind his RESPECT cover shoot.

Days later, we would spend his 35th birthday at his sports-memorabilia-filled Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, home as one of hip-hop’s most polarizing characters played gracious host. Who woulda thunk it? William Leonard Roberts II withstood the confirmation of his correctional officer past and personal melodramatic theatrics from rival 50 Cent in 2009 to emerge today as one of rap’s top artists in the game—a fact that’s not lost on him. He waited a very long time to get here. And he has no plans of stepping down.

So he’ll answer the tough questions with tougher music. Turn on the charm ’til all the haters are disarmed. And persevere until his name his mentioned in the same breath with fellow rap peers Kanye West and Lil Wayne. Mock if you must. But I wouldn’t bet against him.

RESPECT: Do you feel like you’re in some kind of crazy creative zone right now?

RICK ROSS: Honestly, I don’t feel like I’m in the zone. I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, and that’s just making doper-ass music. That’s all the drive I need. Competing to be the best—number one.

Teflon Don—some people had it at number one for 2010. You came right back with the mixtape, Ashes to Ashes. Why was it important to give people another project after you’d already given them a really strong album?

My expectations for myself may be higher than the usual standards. And I thought it was cool. My core audience really enjoyed Teflon Don, and they want to know what’s next. And when you give them a project like Ashes to Ashes, it’s always cool to let them in on the inside.

You’re giving people A-level material for free.

A lot of people feel like Ashes to Ashes should’ve been sold, but there’s a time and place for everything, and I think the time was to put the music out now, coming into the New Year. At the New Year, a lot of people want to know who they can expect to be on top of their A-game, and I think, coming from this MMG camp, you know what time it is. We made that clear.

But if you feel like you’re on your A-game, number-one level, why agree to be an opening act on Wayne’s “I Am Music 2” tour?

I still have a lot of room to grow. This tour is definitely a great opportunity, if you’re on top of your game. Wayne’s an icon of this generation, and just being a part of that shit and touching that crowd is going to help your brand. And also that’s my fam. So I’m not only excited from a business and a financial standpoint, I’m also excited because I know how we all work. Me and Birdman, we got maybe 30 to 40 records we did together. Me and Wayne, the new record we got on Tha Carter IV, uhhh…you know.

It’s gonna hurt somebody [laughs]? It’s a homicide?

That’s the record that I’m most excited about being a part of in 2011. It’s that mixtape Wayne! It’s that shit, it’s that talk that them street niggas love, you know?

Do you think your movement in some ways has also helped inspire him? In his absence, you’ve hit the streets hard.

It’s a good possibility. Because at the end of the day, we all respect and admire each other’s music, and we show that admiration for each other. That’s what I love most about this generation of entrepreneurs, niggas working with each other. It’s always about that unity. Doing business in New York, with some New York street niggas, doing some business in L.A., in Chicago, in Atlanta. That’s what I’m most eager about—doing business around the globe with real street dudes. That’s what translates into longevity.

Speaking of New York, the other day you celebrated your birthday there. Being such a student of the game, how special was—

Of course it was. I’m getting love from the Dominicans. The Dominicans brought me up there to Washington Heights. It was pink Champagne everywhere, smoke was in abundance, people sending me gifts, bottles, and I’m getting bags of cologne, cakes and gifts from street niggas. This is a type of appreciation that you can really appreciate at the end of the night. Give a shout-out to all my homies in New York City, caliber niggas, and what we really wanna see, and what we want to come from all this. We want a union before we want a standoff.

You speak often in the code of the streets, but no artist has taken more attacks on their credibility than you.

That’s why I’m still here, stronger than ever, richer than ever, bigger than ever. I’m going to call the shots as long as I want to. That’s the difference between [me and] other niggas who talk about it. Who really be about it? Who really bringing money to the table for niggas? Who really bawsed it up, who really putting their egos to the side and wanna see their partners win? Who really wanna see their lil’ homies have a good Christmas? That’s what really separates the true bosses, you know what I mean?

How does the music on the next album connect to the title of God Forgives, I Don’t?

It’s not even necessarily about me personally—it’s more about life. A lot of times I think life can be really unforgiving. On Christmas Eve, I buried one of my closest friends ever. He was slain in front of his three little kids in a home invasion. So I think life can be really unforgiving. Sometimes you really just gotta look that shit in the eyes and suck it up for what it is, you know what I’m saying? So it’s appropriate for where I’m going with the music. I think it’s going to help everybody absorb what’s happening.

So it’s bigger than you?

Of course. The music is always bigger than you. I’m just telling the story. I’m telling the first-hand story from real niggas. But like when we did the photo shoot, I was talking to one of my homies in federal prison, and this is one of my closest friends ever, and it’s unfortunate. But at the same time, I’m here to tell a story for a lot of things I’ve witnessed—and a lot of niggas doing time right now. So hopefully when somebody hears my music, I’m pretty sure they hear that uncut, true shit. It only comes from seeing that shit straight up and down.

“MC Hammer” and “BMF”—where did those songs come from? Talk to me about the creation. Do you remember the process of either one of them?

I was in L.A., man, I was smoking this miracle marijuana, I’ll never forget, from the Gourmet Green Room. We was just riding around Cali—I love to be in the hills, you know, Miami’s so flat—and I turn the music up, let the windows down, and I’m smoking this shit. I just start the “I’m MC Hammer, I got thirty cars.” You know, FYI, I got more than 30 cars [laughs]. I actually start chanting the chorus then, and Spiff pulled out his BlackBerry and just started jotting it down. It went on for 30 minutes, just riding through Cali.

Just the idea of that success…

Just the idea…

Excess…

Of how big he did it. The nigga was on cartoons, you know what I’m saying? Big-ups to him, because he really, really inspired me on that level.

[Linebreak]

With the 50 battle, some people forget you jabbed him first, right? With the “Mafia Music” joint—you kind of tapped him.

Right.

Because you just didn’t like his energy?

It boiled down to what really was going on. It wasn’t nothing at the time that was personal against 50 Cent, but he was attacking people, and began attacking people closer and closer to me, to a point where I had to make a decision. I felt I was gonna be next on that list. So I took the offensive.

People were shocked by that. It’s like you don’t pick a fight with the bully. It stunned the whole game overall.

Niggas gotta study history. The mob bosses always get whacked at the end. Sometimes by someone of lesser value, of lesser importance, you feel me? So, on that note, you gotta understand there’s always niggas that’s willing to make that sacrifice on some real shit. When you really step out there, and you want to get into some shit, you’ve got to be on your A-game. My goal is to deliver hit records. But don’t get it mistaken, we are the muscle—we are the muscle.

But isn’t it really just about dope music trumps all? It’s not about C.O. talk, it’s if I make the dopest shit, I win?

If I’m the richest nigga on the block, if I’m the flyest nigga on the block, it ain’t no way to get around that. If I’m feeding the most niggas in the ’hood, if I’m looking out for the most bitches, and keeping it real with the most niggas that I can, it’s no way to get around that. And if you’re doing that, wherever you at, you’re gonna be successful. And at the end of the day, if you’re not successful, no one cares about you. Being successful, making dope records, it’s being a part of dope moments in musical history, you feel me? That’s the only thing I’m concerned about. I have no personal quarrels with no one in this music business—none. I set my goals, my standards. Other than that, it ain’t nothing personal. I fuck with who I fuck with, and they know who they are, and anybody else…. I’m all about moneybags. You feel good once you crack that 20 million mark; I wanna know what it’s like to hit 50.

How did we get here, Rick? You got signed in ’96. This isn’t overnight success.

The love of music. When you come in my house, you see a big-ass 1970s jukebox. You see another record player on the floor—that’s just my Prince vinyl, my Thriller vinyl. I love music, I love making music more than anything, man. It was after making music for 10 years and never making a dollar from it; at some point you just accept that this is what you love to do, it is what it is.

But the beautiful thing about it is I’ve gained so much experience, I feel like when it comes to making music, I’m one of the best music-makers in this business. I’ve written hit records for so many other artists…hit recordsnumber-one records. “Aston Martin Music” is my first number-one record for Rick Ross.  Not number-one album—I’ve had several of those—but number-one single. “Aston Martin Music” was my number one for Rick Ross, but not for William.

I gotta go and check my credits [laughs].

We actually have five offers on the table for my Maybach Music Group. Five aggressive offers. It’s safe to say every label wants to work with my imprint, my brand, which is something I’m extremely proud of. I’m hands-on. I’m capable of making that much music, I’m capable of making four or five records a day. All hard records, you know what I’m sayin’? That’s what we’re doin’ over here: developing artists. We got reggae artists, another big movie deal. Shout-out to my Latino division, Maybach Latino. I’m doing a lot of different things. We’re giving a lot of brothers opportunities to chase their dreams, and shit’s only going to get better. I’m on my Pat Riley shit, man. It’s just that time. I’m not going to believe in everybody. But Meek Mill and Wale, I believe in.

Talk to me about you and Kanye. You just shot a video for your part in “Devil in a New Dress.” How did that collab come together? That verse is hard.

It’s definitely one of those dope records. That just comes from me being a fan of the music he created from The College Dropout and Graduation. It’s like, “When I wake up in the morning, I play those records, Mr. West!” [Laughs] He really created a new lane of hip-hop. That was the beauty of his success.

But to go back, he produced a track for a particular artist, another artist that I happened to write the rhymes for. We were in the studio together, making sure this particular artist delivered the record properly [laughs], and on the downtime while this particular artist was workin’, me and ’Ye was vibing on some chill shit.

We rhymed for each other, for maybe two to three hours. My whole catalog, his whole catalog. This was before he ever had a major hit, before I ever had a hit, just me and him in the studio. We actually had conversations [about] him producing my whole album. Like, “Damn, man, your verses.” And it just so happened we set dates to link with each other, exchanged numbers, and that following week he had the car crash. I believe the week after the car crash was when me and him was supposed to get in the studio.

So that’s where the “had cyphers with Yeezy before his mouth wired” line came from.

That’s why I know when he heard it. I know it took him back, because this is something we don’t talk about. We don’t talk about before, when we both were nobodies. We never forget where we come from, but it’s like, we love to see each other shine. It took me an hour to write the rhyme. I laid the verse. I kept calling because the album was at mastering. They called back and were like, “Yo, shit is phenomenal.” And you know, I just reflected on, We here, man. At the end of the day, we know where we came from, we know what our dreams as, what our plans was, and I’ll never forget something my grandfather told me years ago: “As long as you accomplish what you set out to accomplish, you won.”

And when I approached the record, it’s like I just went back to me and Kanye sitting in a little studio in Miami, trying to inspire each other. And to see where we’re both at today, to know the mansions we were in and out of in Hawaii, and I’m fuckin’ hang-gliding, and we see the whales. I’m going, Thank you, God. I see whales—you see what I’m saying? Yeah, man, it was a beautiful moment.

So was being a rap star your one big career goal?

I never forget. I was cutting school. I was in the sixth grade, this was when my dad had left for a time, so I wasn’t doing good, this was before football came into my life—that’s what really turned me around—and I went to the flea market, and they had a game room [with] a big screen where they didn’t play nothing but videos. I was sitting there, between the games, in there just watchin’, and “The Symphony” was on. It was a couple of girls, they walked up in front of me to get the best view of it. I’m lookin’ at one girl, she’s like the finest bitch with the biker shorts on lookin’ at Big Daddy Kane, and I’ll never forget her remarks. I started wearing my flat-top that day.

Like you just mentioned, football was also your thing, right?

Football during high school. In my elementary years…I was kicked out of public school. Like in the third or fourth grade, I had to go to some other shit for a little while, then I went back to public school, and then middle school wasn’t really much better. But by the time I got to high school and started playing football, that shit kind of got me on. My coach helped rearrange shit and got me focused. I loved playing football, that’s all we ever did.

Your position?

Center. Yeah, All-American.

But the streets were always a factor.

Of course. That’s what it was. Coming from where I come from in Miami, it’s like if you’re doing your thing by the time you’re in the eighth or ninth grade, it’s not even abnormal. For people not from Miami, I know it’s hard to understand. Any nigga that’s in prison right now that love you, he’s going to tell you, “Do the right thing, man, this ain’t where you wanna be. You don’t wanna play with these people.”

You studied the game, saw it from a different perspective, and then, being that sponge, it’s like, now it’s your time.

Of course, of course. Rick Ross being on top of hip-hop is not by mistake. It’s the furthest thing from that. And I don’t take that for granted. And I’m-a play my position. It’s like, I’m not necessarily seeking pop…that’s not necessarily my goal. My goal is to make sure the work that I put out is better than the previous. From the concepts to the ideas to the way it makes somebody feel. The best artists can control all those elements.

You just make the art.

Exactly. That’s my priority when I make music.

Give me some more insight into God Forgives. How far into it are you? Do you feel like you already have singles in your mind? How far along do you feel the project is? What’s the temperature of the album?

Hey, John!

Uh oh…

Hey, John!

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  • mac DIESEL

    @ YN CORNBREAD

    DIDN’T U DO THIS DAMN POST ALREADY??!!! THIS OPEN LOVE AFFAIR FLING U GOT WIT ROSS IS DISGUSTING AND PATHETIC!!!! U TAKE DICKRIDIN’ TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL!!!! U SHOULD BE EMBARRASSED ELLIOT “YELLOW BANANA PEEL” WILSON!!!!

    DON’T HATE ON MY OPINION!!!!

  • MinajBangher!

    Like i always say……..FUCK this FRAUD!!!!And YN takes dickriding to another level!!!

  • rrahha

    OFFICER RICKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PAYING OFF FOLKS TO PROTECT HIM AND MAKE HIM LOOK LEGITIMATE……SMH…..HE’S A COP AND A LIAR, HE’LL NEVER GET LOOKED AT AS A REAL DUDE….

  • http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/AlejanDRO AlejanDRO

    Yo Both yall need to getFUCKED…u guys are peasants compared to ROSS…and IMMA eat your fukin children

  • GAM3x1991

    LMAO @ Mac
    Does Ross really have a florida tat in between his eye brows? smdh…

  • http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/AlejanDRO AlejanDRO

    u 2 rrahha…fukin chump

  • http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/AlejanDRO AlejanDRO

    GAM3x1991 saw ur girl last night…u should c the tat I left between her eyes

  • ZoomZoomDad-Otis

    YN face it homie you cant replace TIA smh.

  • J’R

    Mehn Ross just mad me feel like i’m rich ..he inspires me mehn ..bleee dat .

  • wickwickwack

    this guy been one of the most relevant and present rapper the last 2years
    it shows that u dont have to sell millions to be on top

    He sucks live though…thats why he´s a good opener

  • yacustommadehiphop

    “Rick Ross being on top of hip-hop is not by mistake”???wtf is wrong with this fraud and all yall are just loving this!!!smh elliot!!!

  • BREAD(215)

    @rrahha my thoughts exactly i picked up on that. real niggas aint gotta throw doe around to b accepted only to hide shit. he’s an artist/ceo not not a what he claims. but he makes good music.

  • 305

    he always talks about the bad stuff and never even talks about graduating high schhol going to college and university and studying criminal justice having a clean record untill 08. ETC ETC.
    that’s how you know he a fake.

    BUT ALL THE LITTLE KIDS LOVE HIM AND THINK HE IS COOL.

  • Pingback: Rick Ross Interviews With Respect Magazine; Speaks About 50 Cent Beef & Being Football Player | Internet Publicist

  • Edwarddj

    black and white diamonds, yeah segregation

  • Your mother’s “Friend”

    SMH what is this bullshit ?? i couldn’t get through the whole thing yn incessant nut hugging was just too much for me & LMAO @ Ross “cracking” 20 mill , yeah sho yo right … these rappers must think we’re idiots just give us hot music & STFU !

  • Sam I Am

    yo Rapradar, nobody was begging for this story at all, so calling people cheapskates is highly inappropriate. second, “Success sure does silence critics.” I’m not sure what your definition of success is, people mostly stopped talking cause Ross ethers himself on a consistent basis. He reminds me of a heavyweight Nick Cannon with better beat selection.

  • Chex

    @305
    Co-Signature! I can’t get past his history. It’s not that he was a CO, it’s that he continually lied about it.

  • LA

    I bet im tha only 1 who read this lol? So ?john? is not on tha c4 but on ross next album? Dope track! I thought he was going 2 ask about jeezy and if they r beefing?

  • Tlova86

    Great Interview

  • Truth

    Don’t care, hop off Ross’ dick. Talk to a real artist.

  • Money mitch

    Man this Alejandro guy is pretty tough you guys should really chill, I heard he typed so hard he broke a guys face

  • honest opinion

    WOW. i dont think ive ever seen dickriding on this level before. its on some delouded HOMO EROTIC shit. REAL TALK. miss out all the relevant questions that need answering by the BIGGEST FRAUD IN HIP HOP EVER. give him the safe lane boosting the cops ego again.
    fuck the fact you still here in the hip hop game after being exposed as a fake,a phoney and fraud by having diddy,jayz,kanye,wayne,birdman,drake etc co signing your ass to keep you floating.
    without them you was DONE! TOAST!OVER! nothing to do with being hot or making good songs. you was finished without your friends bailing yo ass out. plus the anti 50 feeling helped. wont last forever. once a cop always a cop.

  • Jake

    ^Fvck u hater! Ross is real!

  • http://thunderkush.com Ziplock G

    “I’m fuckin’ hang-gliding, and we see the whales. I’m going, Thank you, God. I see whales—you see what I’m saying? Yeah, man, it was a beautiful moment.”

    Damn…I didn’t know hang-gliders could support people of Ricky’s weight class…

  • Belize

    @YN: How much do you pay him to let you suck on his cock all day?

  • Shady

    other than a few records…ross is OVER RATED..
    ive NEVER come out listening to his album going “that was soe good shit man”

    yeezy had that on graduation, prolly his best album
    Em’s had plenty of those but hes gettin back on it..
    Fiddy’s last albums first 6 songs were DOPE, rest were just ayte, plus his voice made it hella wierd 0_o

    ross is just meh…

  • i distrust camels

    this cop is a “rap star” ? how come ? and when was he on the top of hip hop ? i´ve lost that moment SMH

  • ZoomZoomDad-Otis

    lmao@”^Fvck u hater! Ross is real!” HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. U cant be serious?

  • honest opinion

    “mob bosses always get whacked at some point”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! who you whacked son.
    50 humilated you. he didnt get at you on wax but he humilated you with other shit. what bosses would allow someone to do that. stop fronting your a joke. and so are your crew. he even had your son involved. SMFH. boss??????????? as i say humilated you infront of the world. you didnt do shit. fuck outta here.

  • your pusha

    rozaaaay

  • 9 Piece

    Maybach Music will be a more successful record label than G-Unity records

  • JERZZZ

    YN you consistently miss opportunities to prove you not selling our culture out to the frauds and hip hop police, and consistently you duck and dodge these opportunities like you was duckin Officer Ricky’s golden glove. Artists used to need a level of authenticity and truth to the things they spit about, fuck what kinda music this fat nigga is putting out(its wack by the way, but dope beat selection). YN officer ricky only exists in hip hop today because of you behind the scenes pole smokers. On a personal level 50 burried this nigga and on a musical level banks burried this nigga, so why is he still around? Cause of faggot niggas like you

  • Pingback: RESPECT. Rick Ross Cover Story (via Rap Radar) « I Don't Make The News

  • LA

    Fif stans came out 2nite lol! Mmg>gunit

  • http://www.tagged.com/pienman pienman

    indeed..kill the game cuz! waiting on that new, new ablum

  • Black Shady

    who the fuck is John wtf

  • Donn

    ROOOOOOOZAY!!!!

  • http://www.pottstreet.com Gusto

    LOL….. No Respect for Respect magazine.

  • Jake

    @Black Shady John is lil wayne and rick ross new single!

  • http://www.thepornspace.net/ The Real Pinky XXX

    black and white diamonds, fuck segregation

    GET LAID OR WATCH HOT EBONIES…FREE MEMBERSHIPS….THEPORNSPACE.NET

  • JIMMY

    ROZAY!

    -JIMMY IS THE ILLEST

  • B

    “Fu-K tha police comin straight from the underground, a young ni-gga got it bad cause im brown”.

    For you people that don’t know hip hop, This is a quote from N.W.A. from the song (F-CK THE POLICE)

    I don’t care what kind of music he makes he goe’s against everything hip hop was built on.

    Once upon a time hip hop was the voice of the street, not the police.
    If hip hop was in it’s pure state this dude would had been done a long time ago on the basis of being of fraud. At one time being a fraud was the start to your ending .

    The radio and media does not give fans an option to hear other types of music which intern turns fans into sheep. Rick Ross is a mediocre rapper who the machine markets best.

    “ALL YOU CAN RAP ABOUT IS BITCHES AND MONEY” song: ICE CUBE (CHILD SUPPORT)

    “THAT’S DA SOUND OF DA POLICE, THATS DA SOUND OF THE BEAST” ( KRS 1)

    “COP KILLA” (ICE CUBE)

  • b

    I dont get it. people are still on that officer ricky shit ?… AFTER TEFLON DON! Eat a dick. Amazing album

  • MinajBangher!

    @AlejanDRO !!The only thing your eating is FAT DICK!!!!!Fuck Ross and Fuck you!!!!!!!!!!!

  • MinajBangher!

    COSIGN JERZZZ !!!!!!!!REAL TALK!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mastermind

    Rozay won

  • tha truth is…

    whats 2 respect about a blatant liar? If u lie about ur job ull lie bout anything

  • Pr Jones

    Ross aint got sh*8 on 50 Cent!

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  • SBUDA

    Its all about hot recods…….rozay

  • Pingback: Rick Ross’ Boss Interview, Foxy Brown’s A Big, Fat…Liar, Lil Wayne Wins Again | Cash Money Artists

  • Brandon Russell

    A CO and a cop is different. There are dirty cops and COs in the world you idiots. Rozay putitng better music out than 50 ever has over time. 50 may have more money, but 50 ain’t given me nothing to listen too. What 50 money have to do with any of us????

    How stupid you ya’ll sound anyway, like a man can’t have a job in the joint!

  • John

    Live without forgiving and Die without forgiveness

    Well maybe?!?!

  • kinggotti

    yall stop hating on rick ross, man doing his thang getting paper , 305 stand up fuck yall haters we run yall

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  • franky

    YN Good work !! #focus on the music

  • franky

    Dr Dre and Ross collabo up next, you’lle see..