Rick Ross

Rick Ross

Some will remember Rick Ross as the Florida-native responsible for several summer fun-blasts throughout the '00s. Others will remember one former "Officer" William Leonard Roberts II. Regardless of how he is remembered, the rapper will be credited for carefully crafting a larger-than-life personality matched only by his physical girth.

Roberts became involved in professional rap music in the early '00s through 8Ball & MJG's Suave House Records and Slip-N-Slide Records. He modeled his image after several familiar rap tropes: the film Scarface, Southern street slang, and drug trafficker "Freeway" Ricky Ross, whose name inspired another rapper's stage name. Slip-N-Slide was a subsidiary of Def Jam Records at the time, so Roberts came to the attention of the mainstream label. In 2006 he released his debut, Port Of Miami, which contained the hit single "Hustlin'." He released a follow-up, Trilla, in 2008. The album briefly charted two R&B-inflected singles, "Speedin'" (a collaboration with R. Kelly) and "The Boss" (which featured T-Pain). The album was also noted for the song "Maybach Music," which featured Jay-Z.

Later in 2008, the Smoking Gun website posted photos and documents suggesting Roberts had worked for 18 months as a correctional officer. The report was the subject of scandal for him. Roberts initially denied the claims, but later admitted he had briefly worked as a C.O. In 2009 this point was brought up repeatedly during his public beef with rapper 50 Cent, and it even became the prevailing talking point in a series of Web videos and cartoons made to ridicule Roberts. Throughout the beef, and in other public instances, Roberts insisted that his integrity remained intact in spite of the report.

In 2010 he released his third album, Deeper Than Rap.  ~Dan Nishimoto


Photo Credit: Chris Owyoung/


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