It’s the sunniest corner of America’s paradise, heaven sauntering in thousand-dollar bikinis, the Magic City. At least that’s how it’s been depicted by Luke “Skywalker” Campbell, 2 Live Crew and Slip-N-Slide artist Trick Daddy (not to mention by Will Smith). But every city has a dark side. And Rick Ross is shedding some light on Miami’s.
Recently signed by Jay-Z to Def Jam (via Slip-N-Slide) and touted as the label’s next big thing, Rick Ross’s first single, “Hustlin’,” may change our perception of the city under the sun. Over the Runners’ slow-motion beat, Ross plays coke-ring kingpin, and it may just be one of the year’s best singles. (The remix, features Jay-Z and Young Jeezy, is no chore to listen to, either.)
Ross’s debut album, Port of Miami, is due out this fall, and he is currently in an enviable position: He has major-level support from a legendary label and one of hip-hop’s living legends, and he’s hailing from a city that has a lot going on in terms of hip-hop right now. But in the dozen years he’s been rapping, he’s been largely ignored by everyone outside Miami, but he’s poised. In a recent chat with Prefix, he talked about his love of the sticky icky, called City of God one of his favorite films, and predicted that his upcoming album would become a classic.
Where are you right now?
Rick Ross: I’m up here in New York right now, in the Def Jam offices.
How long have you been up here?
Rick Ross: For a couple days. Two or three days.
What have you been doing?
Rick Ross: Recording.
Oh yeah? You’re still working on the album?
Rick Ross: Yeah. Still working on the debut album, Port of Miami. Putting in the extra overtime needed to make it a classic predicted to sell millions.
How many tracks that will show up on the album are finished?
Rick Ross: Like twelve so far that are almost finished.
Who do you have producing on the record?
Rick Ross: Kanye West, Just Blaze, Jazze Pha, Cool & Dre, Nitty, Mr. Collipark and DJ Khaled.
Wow. You got producers from everywhere. It doesn’t sound like the album will have a distinct Southern sound.
Rick Ross: Nah. I’m the new sound of the South, man. It’s going to be a lot more universal. It’s gonna be a lot more flows, a lot more lyricism. It’s gonna be a hell of a project.
What would you say the theme or underlying story of the album is? Is it your biography?
Rick Ross: It is [my biography], but I just really got some powerful records. I just wanted to make some music at the same time. I’ve got some great music.
I’d like to ask you about your background. What got you into rapping in the first place?
Rick Ross: You know, just being a fan of the music. I was a big fan of Ice Cube, Eazy-E, Big Daddy Kane. I remember seeing the “Symphony” video for the first time, with Big Daddy Kane in the saloon with Marley Marl and them. When he walked in those doors with the flat-top and the ropes, I knew I wanted to rap.
How long have you been rapping?
Rick Ross: Twelve years.
You’ve had a lot of buzz down in Miami and the South. What do you think took so long for the rest of the country to pick up on you?
Rick Ross: I just had to get really serious and really focus, put a lot of stuff I was doing on hold. That’s what I did. I sat down with the Runners and came up with “Hustlin’,” took it to DJ Khaled, and it was history from there.
When did you decide you’d put all your efforts into rapping versus something else?
Rick Ross: As soon as I was about to finish high school. Like that old commercial that used to come up on TV where everyone is at graduation and them dudes ask you, “So what you gonna do after graduation?” Then one of the dudes is like, “I’m gonna go home and make a sandwich,” and the other dude was thinking about college. I knew I didn’t want to come home and make a sandwich.
Did you ever have any doubts that you would make it? Were you frustrated with it?
Rick Ross: Of course, of course. After you get up and go to work for twelve years without a paycheck or one hooptie, of course you get frustrated. But me being the hustler I was, I just sucked it up and took those bumps and bruises. And here I am today. I turned a mixtape into millions.
The album is supposed to come out this summer, right?
Rick Ross: Yeah, July.
Do you have any mixtapes planned before then?
Rick Ross: Yeah, I’ve got like five out right now, but right before my album comes out I’m gonna drop a gangsta grilles.
When you take a look at other rappers out right now, who do you see out there hustlin’ and grindin’?
Rick Ross: Young dude from out of Miami by the name of Brisco. He gonna be real big. He’s a young hustler. You know, the Carroll City Cartel. Then, outside of my circle, Big Gee, Boyz N Da Hood — those hustlers to me.
I’ve never been to Miami so I don’t know much about it, but I’m supposed to visit there this summer. What is the best thing about Miami? And what’s the worst thing?
Rick Ross: The blow jobs. [laughs] Nah, the best thing, other than the weather? Just the culture. I love Miami, man. Just the culture. The cars, you know, how we ride with the old-school Chevys.
What do you think is the worst thing about Miami?
Rick Ross: The crime rate.
I think a lot of people out there don’t know too much about you. Do you have any hobbies?
Rick Ross: I’m a weed fanatic. I’ve smoked blunts with some of the biggest people in the world. To me, that’s my hobby. To be able to say I smoked blunts with Snoop Dogg, I’ve smoked blunts with Bruce Willis, I’ve smoked a blunt with Too Short. I’m what you call a Cannabis Cup Champion.
You smoke everyday?
Rick Ross: Everyday. All day, my brother. If I’m not making music, I’m smoking the best.
Do you plan on making any songs about weed on this record then?
Rick Ross: Yeah, man. I have to do one weed song, but I haven’t done it yet. I have so much other G shit to talk about.
Do you have a favorite car or automobile?
Rick Ross: Yeah. I’ll never forget the BMW 745. I got something in place for me as soon as I touch down in Miami. My favorite that I got right now is a 1973 convertible Caprice Classic. It’s getting restored right now. They just called me and told me my bill. It cost me $28,000 to restore it.
Rick Ross: Fiberglass. That car is gonna be timeless.
If you had to pick, who’s your favorite of all-time?
Rick Ross: Ice Cube.
Rick Ross: Honestly — other than Scarface and Boyz N the Hood, because those are my favorite films — some shit that’s straight off the wall, it would probably be City of God. That’s my shit.
Favorite TV show?
Rick Ross: I don’t know. I’m not really into TV.
What’s the best thing about being a rapper right now?
Rick Ross: Just being able to really do your art — all money to the side; all bullshit to the side — just really being able to perform your talents and the shit that you created and touch and captivate other people.
What’s something you don’t like about the rap game right now?
Rick Ross: There’s a lot of politics in the rap game. A lot of politics.
You’ve been getting a lot of shine lately, especially for the single “Hustlin’.” Have you noticed people getting jealous of you lately?
Rick Ross: Not really. You know, you just stay in your circle and you stay focused.
How long did the single take to write?
Rick Ross: Maybe forty-five minutes.
Damn. Did you know it was a hit as soon as you were done?
Rick Ross: Yeah, as soon as I recorded it I knew it.
And I read that it was Memphis Bleek who talked to Jay-Z about signing you. Is that right?
Rick Ross: Yeah, it was a year or two ago. I had Memph Bleek down at a studio in Miami; we had smoked a little bit. We vibed. At that time I didn’t know, but I have come to find out he had mentioned it to Jay, and Jay just kept his eyes open and ears to the streets.
What guests are you having on the album?
Rick Ross: I’m just really getting into that now, but you can anticipate Jay-Z; my group, the Carroll City Cartel; Brisco; Trick Daddy; Pimp-C; Bun B; Beanie Sigel.