It is said that each year in the music industry is equivalent to three normal years. If that's the case, then Rick Ross is way beyond a new artist - he's a veteran. Most of the time, when neophytes drop records, the fans and the industry are typically interested in one thing: is that person hot? No one is really interested in their opinions or even their story until they produce a hit. Folks may not have been listening before, but now that his single Hustlin is impacting radio stations across the nation, the masses have now begun to care about Rick Ross. On his music hustle for ten years, he's been patient with his creep up out of Miami.
From being a consumer, to an MC with a hit single, the journey to the top has been a wild ride where hes gained a wealth of knowledge and experience. Now that hes got the peoples attention, Rick Ross has got a lot to say. The rapper even offers a few gems to drop on hustling, expectations from his album, Port of Miami, why the city of Miami is so dope, and not only what makes a man real, but also why hes one of the realest.
AllHipHop.com: Its safe to say youve been hustling before turning your focus to rhyming?
Rick Ross: Most definitely.
AllHipHop.com: How long would you say youve been committed to making your rap career pop off?
Rick Ross: I would say like 12 years. But seriously committed, I would say the last five.
AllHipHop.com: What made you make that decision?
Rick Ross: For me, once I really started seeing the reaction and the participation of the streets and their involvement is when I really saw how far this music could go. At first, when youre writing those songs, youre doing it for you homies in your class or the n***a you finna smoke a joint with. Then you may go to the studio, but you only playing it for a hand full of cats, cause you know your s**t ain't really all that - you just tryin to see what you could do. But it got to a point when n***as was comin up to me sayin, Whats up boy. I heard that record you did. Damn boy. Where I could get that? And Im like, Damn. Okay.
AllHipHop.com: So you felt like the streets wanted you?
Rick Ross: I started seeing that the potential for growth was there. Cause after youve been in the business-I was in the business for ten years and aint make a dime. When you spending money all that time [in the streets], thats what I mean, when you in this [music] game its a real business. When you get in it you hustling. You doin whatever you gotta do to get your studio, your lil s**t, your CDs, your t-shirts. Youre tryin to go and to the events and the clubs. You buyin the DJ a drink to get you a spin or two, and I did that over a decade. So you gotta understand the s**t I endured. You going to work everyday and making no money. The crowd aint rappin your songs but you gotta be a real n***a to keep going.
AllHipHop.com: So what do you think you bring to this game that isnt here? Especially coming from the South there are a high number of artists coming out.
Rick Ross: I bring a little more class to the game [and] a little more game to the game.
AllHipHop.com: What exactly does that mean?
Rick Ross: You gotta be a little more detailed about [your hustle] sometimes, and thats why Im gonna be real detailed and personal with the project and the records Im doing. Im a put a little twist on that South thing.
AllHipHop.com: So you say youre being a little more detailed? Do you feel like its your responsibility as an artist to tailor your lyrics or is it just whatever comes out comes out? If you like it, you like it, if you dont, you dont.
Rick Ross: I know for me it really represents communication from hood to hood. When I was consumer, I was just buying music. When I bought your record, your cassette, your CD or whatever, I bought it really to get an understanding of where you was from and what you were representing. Thats why its like once I got a bite of NWA and Eazy-E that opened up the markets for the other smaller groups like MC Eiht and Comptons Most Wanted and all those other kinds of artists. Because once you hear the lifestyle and intrigues and entertains you, you dig in deeper and for me and my homeboys, thats what music was. It wasnt just about he rapper. It was the fact that now about the culture in LA and never been there. I may never go there, but I know whats happening. I know they got Bloods. I know they got Crips. I know they got the Slauson Swap Meet. I know they got Crenshaw. When Bone Thugs came out [it was] Cleveland, Ohio. You know what Im saying? Its like you recognizing the map and youre kind of understanding what they expect. So when I make my music thats what I do for Miami. I kinda of want them to know what to expect. I want them to know the lingo and the attitude.
AllHipHop.com: I did a panel on the radio and the topic was Does all the references to hustling and drugs in music have an affect on folks choosing to involve themselves in that lifestyle and they used your song Hustlin as an example. Do you think this music has enough of an influence to push people to do that? It influences people to buy sneakers, cars, etc. Can it influence folks in a negative way as well?
Rick Ross: I think the people that go out and buy sneakers and cars [because of this music] would do that with R&B too. But at the same time, you gotta understand how the hustling impacted our generation. All were doing is giving back what we received. Its just an output of the early 80s. There was a lot of hustling going on before this music. Theres always been hustling before rap.
AllHipHop.com: I mean the drug hustle specifically.
Rick Ross: Well drugs you know whos getting the drugs here? Thats who we need to be talking to. They say they have cameras that can see the date of a penny in Time Square, why cant you stop the narcotics? Thats who we need to ask. Theres always gonna be hustling. As long as theres poor kids living two blocks away from rich kids, theres always gonna be hustling. You have the haves and the have-nots. Theres n***as with s**t and theres dead broke n***as. You decide what you want to do. You decide where you wanna go and how you wanna do things.
AllHipHop.com: Youre a very intelligent, brother. What was the highest level of education you completed?
Rick Ross: Twelfth grade. I excelled.
AllHipHop.com: You know theres a lot of folks out here sending the message Why go to school when you get money being a rapper or a hustler?
Rick Ross: Nah, you go to college and be a hustler, pimp. The best hustlers are college graduates. The people who run the world are hustlers. You always want to hustle. I dont care what youre doing. You always gotta have a hustle about yourself. You need that extra little support some time, pimp.
AllHipHop.com: So lets talk about the South. You know people have the nerve to say Florida is not the South?
Rick Ross: Then what is it?
AllHipHop.com: They say its Disney and South Beach.
Rick Ross: Thats funny. I wouldnt even address somebody that says that. But you know, Miami is a beautiful place. I mean if somebody wanted to look at it statistically of course Miami is more culturally diverse with the Hatians, the Cubans, the Dominicans Its a melting pot of all that, but its most definitely South.
AllHipHop.com: Tell me about the album. Is there any dream collaboration that you want to do?
Rick Ross: Well, Im about to do a record with R. Kelly and that was a dream record that I really wanted to do. So that was a big one for me. We finna get ready to knock that out ASAP.
AllHipHop.com: So, what do you think is the biggest difference to being a part of a big machine like Def Jam as opposed to a smaller venture like Slip-N-Slide?
Rick Ross: Well you know, of course by Def Jam being a bigger machine, there are more outlets. Theres more resources undefined the budgets, the funds, the vision, and everything is there so the biggest difference is having all the access to what I really need. For instance this is my first time being a part of a DVD for AllHipHop.com I aint get to do that with the other-you understand? So, you know, s**t gets better the higher you go and the further you go. It gets easier for you as an artist. When I was by myself I had to do a million and one things to cover [a small piece of] ground. Now with the machine Im with, you make a phone call and its done.
AllHipHop.com: So you do like it better?
Rick Ross: Of course.
AllHipHop.com: Because a lot of artists that come up independent, once they become a part of the big machine they kind of feel like theyre a slave to a bigger entity where as before they were the ones callin the shots.
Rick Ross: Nah, you should always remain in charge of your music and your product but you just gotta let them do what they do. When you get the deal you gotta understand what kind of deal youre closing, and whats gonna be everybodys responsibility. Once you know that and accept that once you sign that deal, you should just do what you need to do. You know what Im sayin? If you feel like if it aint for you, you should consider all of that before you get the deal.
AllHipHop.com: So now that youve got the machine behind you, what do fans need to know about Rick Ross?
Rick Ross: Im gonna sell a lot of records. Im set up to sell a lot of records.
Rick Ross: I just happen to be Rick Ross one of the realest n***as doing this s**t. Im the crème de la crème of this new music s**t you know what Im sayin? You finna see a lot of me.
AllHipHop.com: You said youre one of the realest n***as. What makes a real n***a?
Rick Ross: Theres a lot of phony mothaf**kas, but you know I done been in the game man, for over 12 years, and I done survived a lot of the bulls**t. Ive lost a lot of my homies and Im still here persevering, representing for the cause and thats till the casket rock. A lot of started out screamin, Carol City Cartel! where Im from, but Im one of the last ones and by me taking it this far, you already know and we still here. S**t dont change. Thats being real. [Im] Still f**kin with the n***as [I] started with.