Rick Ross

Rick Ross

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About Rick Ross

When Rick Ross’ “Hustlin’” came out in early 2006, it almost seemed like a joke: How could you make something so gonzo and still keep a straight face? This wasn’t rap as lyricism or verbal documentary, it was rap as pro wrestling, summer blockbuster. Few artists were as perceptive in capturing the genre’s turn toward new-money excess, the move from the streets—in Ross’ case, Carol City, Florida—to the exurbs, to cars that outprice helicopters and houses the size of airplane terminals. Even as he toned down the supervillainy, Ross remained larger than life, luxury incarnate. “Am I really just a narcissist/’Cause I wake up to a bowl of lobster bisque?” he asked on 2011’s “I Love My Bi***es.” Maybe. But it’s good TV nevertheless. Born William Roberts in 1976, Ross started rapping in his early twenties, with “Hustlin’”—then self-released—sparking a bidding war that landed him on Def Jam. In 2008, his brief past as a corrections officer—18 months, starting at age 19—surfaced, loading new coals on the ever-ongoing conversation about biography and authenticity in rap. By 2009, he’d started the Maybach Music Group, following the rapper-to-boardroom path paved by artists like JAY-Z and Birdman; by 2010’s Teflon Don, his skills as had caught up to his vision. Ross worked steadily throughout the 2010s, easing into a more reflective version of his persona—in 2018, he’d ended up on life support after collapsing in his home—without sacrificing any of his outsized grandeur. Even as he made room to reflect on mortality (2019’s “I Still Pray”), race (2015’s “We Gon Make It”), and politics (2017’s “Santorini Greece”), you always knew where his heart was. As goes one to-the-point line on Port of Miami 2’s “Gold Roses,” “I know it seem odd/But money amazin’.”

Clarksdale, MS, United States
January 28, 1976
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