TOP 5 DEAD OR ALIVE: Rick Ross

Rick Ross is pensive.

“A lot of time when artists get this question asked to them, its not really fair because you have to take in 20 years of the best music and you only have a few seconds to answer a question. So a lot of times, you think…me, I just stick to my formula and the people that influenced me.” – Rick Ross

The Miami rapper has risen from his early days as a rapper with Trina and Erick Sermon to one of Hip-Hop’s reigning magistrates. Still, he’s a bit apprehensive about naming his Top 5 rap artists as he sits in a huge conference room at Def Jam Records in Manhattan. Well, Ross did the same as this author: complied a list of the Hip-Hop icons that had the most influence on his life growing up in Carol City, Florida, of Miami. The list is wide and varies greatly. The self-proclaimed BAWSE even takes time to send some parting shots to his adversary 50 Cent.

Luke Skywalker

Rick Ross: Number 5 is Luke Skywalker. He was one of the first dudes to have his own label, have his own distribution, be independent, own his masters and he did this out the gate. Pressing his vinyl in the back of his club and I respected that. I saluted Luke.

AllHipHop.com: He was very rebellious too.

Rick Ross: I love people that are rebellious and call people monkeys and all that…uh…and Curly’s a monkey.

Big Daddy Kane

Rick Ross: Then I’ma go to Number. 4 and that’s Big Daddy Kane. That’s when I understood what fashion was. That was the first fly dude in rap, to me. I remember I cut school one day and went to the local game room, where they play videos on the monitors. And I remember this girl, she had on biker shorts. Back in the day, I was a kid…she was older. I just looked at her like, “Wow.” I always remember the facial expression she made when “The Symphony” came on and Big Daddy Kane… I looked at her and I’m looking at her in the shorts. Then, I’m looking at the video [on the TV] like “What the f**k.” And I made that connection. I started growing my flattop that day.

AllHipHop.com: What about his rapid-fire flow? You can rap fast too and a lot of people don’t acknowledge that.

Rick Ross: I got different flows and that’s what I love the most about these new projects, because I’m showing them something different, something that’s not common coming from the South. I’m just competing for the throne.

Ice Cube

Rick Ross: My number 3 emcee would be Ice Cube. I always admired Ice Cube, I always loved him. I think I loved him more when he dissed NWA.

AllHipHop.com: Why?

Rick Ross: Just for the sport and the game. Its like when I was sitting there listening to it, if course I didn’t think Mc Ren was going to get a gun and go kill [Ice Cube]. But just for him to drop “No Vaseline.” Just for him to feel like he wasn’t being compensated properly and say, “F**k NWA” and broke off and came to New York and recorded his whole album in New York. A lot of people don’t know that. That’s what made me admire Ice Cube and nine times out of 10 interviews I do, I say his name. That’s the legend that I always admired. Me being infused with people, I felt that was destined for me anyway. I just wanted to pick the biggest monkey.

“I don’t just want half of the pizza. You ate enough slices – beat it. When I make my business movies – Ted Lucas, CEO of Slip-N-Slide Records – on a personal note, I got nothing but love for him. But on a business note, you can’t eat no more pizza. It’s all my pizza.”

AllHipHop.com: Do you relate to Cube as you have broken off from Slip-N-Slide Records at all?

Rick Ross: It’s kinda like that. But, I look at it like, its me growing as a boss. I want to eat more. I don’t just want half of the pizza. You ate enough slices – beat it. I want more of the pizza. And I feel like if I wasn’t raised that way, I wouldn’t be the boss or they wouldn’t have taught me properly. When I make my business movies – Ted Lucas, CEO of Slip-N-Slide Records – on a personal note, I got nothing but love for him. But on a business note, you can’t eat no more pizza. It’s all my pizza. Go make another pizza. That’s just me being an executive, me being a boss. That’s what I try to push upon my homies that I do business with. Don’t settle for less. Everyday make some s**t so hot that people gotta bring more to the table.

Tied for 1 – the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac

Rick Ross: Ice Cube is number 3…coming in at Number 2 is Tupac Shakur. But, I feel like Tupac and Biggie is a tie. But, the reason why I put Pac first [in the line], because he released over 10 projects and B.I.G. did what he did with two really. I feel like they were both icons, the both pushed the envelope as far as flows. I felt like when other dudes in New York was rappin’ hard, trying hard, B.I.G. came, “Like trees to branches, cliffs to avalanches, it’s the praying mantis..deep like the mind of Farrakhan…” He just made it so simple. That’s what made him appeal so much to the South.

“I’ll never disrespect B.I.G. Even though, I’m one of the first to admit my own game is to create my own vibe, but at the same time emulate the greats.”

Rick Ross: If you look at Texas culture, they sip lean –the chill. In Miami, we burn green. When the music is a little slower, we gravitate to it more. That’s what made Biggie special. Wu Tang was great. Biggie was on the other end of the equator. “Yall do that – where the rain jackets and all that. I’ve finna jump in this Lexus Land Cruiser. I’ma have Faith [Evans] right here, go pick up [Lil’] Kim.” That’s what I always loved and that’s what made me love New York City Even more.

AllHipHop.com: I recently talked to somebody from the late 80’s and early-to-mid 90’s era and they told me that they liked you because you were musically like the “Down South” version of Biggie. How do you feel about that:?

Rick Ross: When I hear that, its most definitely a compliment, but I’ll never disrespect B.I.G. Even though, I’m one of the first to admit my own game is to create my own vibe, but at the same time emulate the greats. When you in the hood, you don’t have stylists. You don’t know what’s crackin’. You look at the TV. [Ross looks up at imaginary TV with Biggie Smalls on it]. “What that sweater is? What’s that called? Oh, that’s a Coogi. S**t. I want a Coogi.” That’s the simple influence. What he say he smoke in his blunts? Garcia Vega. Now I walk in the blunt store and I see a…”Let me try them s**ts. They the Biggie s**ts.” When you’re a young dude, that’s the way it goes. Ijust absorbed everything and tried to vibe off that.

THE SIDE BAR

AllHipHop.com: And the last part is, how do you feel you are or are on you way to being regarded as a future great?

Rick Ross: You know, me…I ain’t big on the fame side of being in the spotlight or being on television. I’m big on the music, I’m big on the business, I’m big on the money, but I try to be the same dude I was. I walk the same. I try to go to those same places [that I used to frequent]. As far as my status, I’ma leave that to the people. I appreciate the consideration for whatever it turns out to be. But as far as me, I’m just focused on what I am in control of.

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