The concept for the video of Rick Ross’s menacing breakout hit “Hustlin’” is not subtle—it goes like this: there are two sides to Miami. The clip’s introduction starts out on Collins Ave, with generic Cuban cha-cha muzak soundtracking women in string bikinis as they walk the famously upscale South Beach strip. Then, as the swelling organs, snappy snare roll explosion and woozy, manipulated “everyday I’m huss-a-lin” chant of Ross’s single take over, he drives a white 745 Beemer past the cruise liners docked at the Port of Miami, until the camera lens suddenly switches to sepia and gives the video a sun-scorched hood griminess. Ross swaps out the super-clean BMW mentioned in the song for a souped-up Chevy and heads towards the city’s infamous Carol City neighborhood. The rest of the video takes place in the parking lots of a catchall ghetto department store called Carolmart, and a massive, windowless concrete bunker of an establishment called Club Rollexx.
It may seem like a hokey concept, but ever since the song “Hustlin’” took over airwaves and mixtapes across the country, this “two Miamis” Miami has been Ross’s real-life routine whenever he’s not working his big hit on long radio promo tours. Meet up with Ross in Carol City and he’ll probably put you in his Rolls Royce Phantom (he drives it himself) to go cruise “the Beach” for a while; meet Ross in South Beach, and after an hour or two he’s ready to switch back to Carol City. With traffic and pit stops, it can take damn near an hour to get from one to the other, so it’s not a coincidence that his favorite place to smoke a blunt seems to be behind the wheel. On one car ride towards the Beach, Ross is five sixths of the way through a strawberry Phillie, playing his new mixtape loud as fuck, when we have to stop in the cash lane at a toll booth. “The express pass is for weed smokers,” he says with frustration. “This shit is a fuckin interruption.”
It’s Miami Springfest weekend, and although we’re headed for South Beach, Ross takes a detour to ride by Bayfront Park, where a huge radio-sponsored concert featuring Lil Wayne, Bun B, Three 6, Paul Wall, Young Jeezy, Mike Jones, Juelz Santana and everyone else who’s recently sold between 500 thousand and two million copies of an album is already getting underway. Ross has never had a licensed record for sale, but he’s been given one of the night’s prime slots for a simple reason. When we had initially met up with him earlier in the day, he was doing drops for a local Clear Channel radio station, Beat 103.5. At one point the DJ instructed him, “Now say, We’re gonna finish it out with my song ‘Hustlin’,’ the hottest record in Miami.” Ross squared up to the mic and said, “We’re gonna finish it out with my song ‘Hustlin’,’ the biggest record in the country.”