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Rick Ross on Miami, “Hustlin’,” and the art of beat selection
Read the full transcript to the 19th episode of The FADER Uncovered.
Rick Ross on Miami, “Hustlin’,” and the art of beat selection Getty

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When I mentioned to people I was interviewing Rick Ross this week, I noticed their faces light up instantly. Rob, a 40 something Metallica super fan, who owns the gym I go to, he gave his best Ross impression going, "Ross." Fucking love that guy. My wife chimed in with her version of Ross's signature tune starter, Maybach Music. And actual Maybach music rapper and friend of mine, Wale messaged, "I've got to watch this LOL." I don't know if that was a vote of under confidence, I'm not sure. But all of this is probably because in the 15 years since he exploded onto the scene with his debut single, "Hustlin'," maybe one of the most iconic debut hits in the history of hip-hop, he's done the damn near impossible, pulling off the American dream. Through sheer talent drive and ambition, he's dropped 10 albums, among them five Billboard number ones. And among them countless hip-hop bangers.

He's been one of the most respected MCs in the game since he came into it, part owing to a billion dollar voice, an ability to convey the most luxurious lifestyle with brilliant word play, and an impeccable ear for beats. Be they glorious '70s soul-infused, or beats that just make you want to smash a window in. He's launched the stellar careers of Meek Mill and Wale, among others, with his Maybach Music Group. He's written a New York Times best seller and his entrepreneurial instincts have launched countless successful business ventures. But the thing I think that's made him a national treasure, or international actually for that matter, is close to that thing that Snoop does. When you come from the hustler's background and by being in people's lives for so long, delivering quality music, combined with an outsized personality, a large dose of humor, warmth and charm, you just one day evolve into this people's champ.

We spoke on the eve of his 11th album release, Richer Than I've Ever Been. And it's crazy to think it's been 15 years since his epic FADER cover, which is an excellent chronicling of life in the two very different Miamis, the glitzy South Beach and the gritty Carol City. I myself, the night before, had just devoured Ross's latest book, The Perfect Day to Boss Up, which I'm telling you is honestly an amazing read, funny as hell, insightful and charming. Very much like The Bawse himself. I love preparing for these interviews, but you really never know where they're going to jump to. And this one's no different, taking a lightning quick tangent into the all important five mic album review and The Source magazine. So let's boss up with a legend.

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Mark Ronson: Mr. Ross.

Rick Ross: What's shining, big homie?

How are you, sir?

I'm wonderful.

Thank you for agreeing to do this. I know you're in LA and it's early and you must be on the promo blitz right now.

Yeah, so I'm good though, man. It's all good. That's one of the cool parts of putting the music together is actually, saying I'm fucking with the journalists that feed it to the people.

Yeah. I noticed this because I was doing... I basically went to Rick Ross University yesterday. I'm just doing all my research, of course, I know the music as a DJ, as a fan and the articles I read, but really went deep. And one thing I really loved was Elliott Wilson, you did a giant interview with him once, because he just DM'd you on Twitter. You seem to not mind speaking to journalists because you have a lot to say, nothing to hide and you like talking about the process.

No, most definitely. I fuck with the journalists and I think that really just organically came from me being a fan of music I was. And when I was younger, I began to consume and it was a time when the Five Mics and all that shit meant something towards where my world was at.

Yeah.

Little young high school, youngster, you know what I'm saying?

What is the equivalent of that? You've talked about your feelings about the social media era and the positives and negatives, but what is the equivalent of the Five Mix anointing? We know that because we grew up in that era and I'm just thinking is it followers? What's the code? What is the equivalent, can you think about it?

That could be a translation. That's something that you'll have to put thought into, because for me, that was equivalent to a young MC coming up in the streets, a young nigger coming up from the streets. That was the Grammy before you ever knew what, or really considered getting the Grammy.

Yeah. The Source.

Five mics was just about bars and beats. That's it.

Yeah. Do you remember how many mics on Port of Miami? I'm sure you never forget something like that, but was it five, four?

Honestly, I don't believe it was five. I don't recall. Hopefully, I'm sure it was still...

I'm sure it was at least four.

I'm sure it was, as far as the Five Mic's, the system, I'm sure, was still relevant then, but I just don't recall.

Yeah, it might not have actually even been big, because that was 2006.

Yeah. That was 2006.

I read your book last night, the new book.

What did you think about it?

I love it. It's entertaining. I never knew how funny you are in print, some of the words like, "I never keep all my Faberge eggs in one basket." The humor that I know is there and the lyrics, but I learned a lot and I think it was great. I actually found out you wrote a book at 9:00 PM last night, so I was like, "Oh, fuck." And I tried to read half The Hurricane as well, but I at least got through Boss Up.

So one story that I didn't know that you talk about, that's really, really powerful, very moving, inspirational and just interesting as hell, is the nearly quit moment, the car crash.

Right.

I really didn't know about that. Can you just delve into that, just for the people listening who haven't read the book yet? What happened at that moment and why that was your nearly quit, if any reason you were going to let go?

It was really one of those times where I had done a lot of writing for a lot of others and just on my personal trek, I would drive from Miami to central Florida, north Florida, however many hours me and my buddies, eating at the fucking gas stations where the truckers stop at, eating those hot dogs going around the thing, that type of shit. And going to perform really for a little or nothing.

And to me I've never been one big to complain, so it's not about the complaint, and I ain't tripping. I enjoy going into these new markets, these little places and if they gave me $300, cool, I ain't even tripping. And this particular trip we left and that really drained everybody. Rest in peace to my homie Peanut, he died in another situation, but he was driving on the way back to Miami and I had dozed off. I wasn't even a big sleeper, but we all were exhausted and shit. Next thing you know, man, I woke up upside down in the Median Man, sounded like the Escalade was going to explode.

We was all crawling out of the windshield and it was just one of those times, damn. We barely survived a car crash. Then you get arrested because of your damn driver's license and this that, so damn. Your head's swollen, your eye closed, then you go to jail. And you only had $700 in your pocket. So it was just one of those times, man, when you had to really reflect on, is this shit realistic?

That was really that moment, because you had obviously been doing it for a while as well at that point. And you'd had to deal with swab house and slip and slide. But you said that you just held on and you're like, "If I can just get around the corner", and then of course you heard the beat for "Hustlin'."

Right. And of course I had no idea that around the corner was literally possibly a month, two, three, four months away.

Yeah.

Because I had all my talents, I had skills. I had talents. But was the city ready for the music I was making? Was the state ready?

Yeah.

And once I put what I did best and combined it with that production from The Runners, young dudes out of central Florida, out of Orlando, every day I'm hustling, dropping to change the...

Did everybody know in the studio that night? You had made some good records and it's funny. I even went back and listened to the Erick Sermon joint that you did.

Right.

And then of course, like the Suave House record that they put out after you blew up, but all great music, a lot of the seeds of what you were going to do, soulful instrumentals, beats. But everybody in the room, when you made "Hustlin'", the repetitiveness, each line is an all time line. Each line would be the best line from somebody else's song. You must have known in the room that you were sitting on something, right?

Oh we most definitely... when I recorded the record, I may have been in the studio with just myself and the engineer.

Oh, The Runners weren't even in there, they just gave you the beat?

No, I actually got the beat from my homie that was managing Trina at the time, Josh Burke. He knew how much I love listening to beats.

Yeah.

When people give me a compliment about my ear or whatever, it's not even nothing that deep, it's just how much time I'm willing to spend listening to instrumentals, listening to the beats.

Really.

And he knew I was one of those dudes. So when he would go and get beats from certain individuals, it's almost like you could give them to me and I make a list. So who I think these beats will be best for a Trina, Trick Daddy, so on so forth. And that's what he did. And when I heard that beat, I remember it was a Redd CD, that came from some top corporate Atlantic Records.

Yeah.

And when I got my hands on it, it was over.

Is that what inspired the "I'm into distribution"? Was that the Atlantic line, because it was just sitting there and you knew it was Atlantic City.

Without a doubt, because Josh Burke was working with Slip n Slide. Slip n Slide had a distribution deal with Atlantic and they would filter the beats down, but none of the artists would want to listen to the beats. But me, I told him, bring me all the beats. I listened to 200 beats a day. It don't matter.

That's crazy. Do you remember... that explains a lot. I think it's the same thing with Jay-Z and especially in that Blueprint era, everyone was always like, "He picks the best beats." But remember that scene in Fade to Black where he's just sitting, listening to beat after beat. And they're like, this is actually a funny story before I go on, I had to remake all the garbage beats that he was listening to in the studio because they couldn't go back to producers in that movie and say, "Hey, Jay's clowning your garbage beats. Is it cool if we clear this?" Of course. So I was like, "All right, well I'll make a bunch of garbage beats that sound like they were made by different people", because I was just a DJ trying to get on and it was a check and whatever else, but...

That let's you know, you had fly garbage beats.

I think so. The thing is that you talk about in your book too, the 10,000 hours thing, from the Malcolm Gladwell book is that behind every great huge overnight success, there's all the work and all the time spent that you don't see.

Without a doubt.

But "Hustlin'" in a way is this perfect Star is Born moment, when you think about it. I think a Star is Born moment always happens when you have the perfect artist, perfect movie or actual whatever it is, in the perfect role. It's like Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours, or Jennifer Hudson in Dream Girls, De Niro in Mean Streets. So it's so hard to imagine you before you were famous because that arrival on the map was just so fucking iconic.

And it felt huge. I had a few glimpses of some sunlight, but it was never anything close to being this bright. And it just eclipsed the whole soundscape, where I was at.

In The FADER article as well. That FADER cover from 2006 is great. It's a great article and you really get the sense of you're like, "There isn't really a sense." And I don't know if that's not in your nature to be wow, I can't believe I made it. Because after all this struggling, it feels like you knew that you were always supposed to be there. Is that how it felt, or did you have a little bit of kicking yourself, while this crazy groundswell is happening underneath you?

When the first record exploded and I just got a taste of what success somewhat felt like, I most definitely... it was a part of me telling me, this is what you've been working for, big homie. Now it's really time to go get it. It gets greater later, let's keep going. And so, while I did somewhat celebrate the huge success of every damn hustle, and I remember it was the first record to sell a million ring tones. Remember that crazy fucking time, the ring tone?

Yeah, of course.

That shit was crazy, but it was just being recognized. It was recognition. I just knew, it was a lot more for me to do. A lot more I had to show.

And Dre talks about it in that first FADER article too, which was interesting. He said you had to dumb it down a little. There was nothing dumb about "Hustlin'" but maybe was he talking about the word player? Were you trying to be too clever? What did he mean by that?

A lot of times it depends. I would probably have to re-read the article, but for me, I always heard that I could make my word play extremely complicated. I could speed it up. And where I'm from, Miami, it was all about twerking and the club vibe and I was on a whole different side of the street with it.

Yeah.

And so when you say dumb it down, or I could just take it as me having fun with the wordplay, the way I did "room 222, 22, she was 22, I'm right." So I was just having fun. And so it could go that way as well, but either way it all makes sense.

It's true because now even thinking about the Slip n Slide, of course there was "Shut Up," Trick Daddy, which was a crazy record. That was quite hard. And I remember even in New York that tore everything up, but you're right, it was very party. It was icons. It was everything.

Take it to the house. The biggest records were party and club records without a doubt.

So were you at one point, I'm sure when you're starting off, are you thinking, how do I slot into this thing? Did it seem like a weird marriage or did you know you were always just going to break the mold and just have to be the outsider on Slip n Slide?

Well, I knew one thing, it would take me to be nothing less than great to figure this out, because I've got to figure this out. Being in Miami, this is the only outlet we really had. This is the only bridge you could really walk across to go to that other side.

Yeah.

And they were comfortable and had huge success with all party records. And like I said, I was talking about getting money. I was talking about hustling. Everything finally worked out. I found the right beat. I put the right raps on it. And once that record took off, I never was questioned again.

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Miami is and has been for a while, a true legit epicenter of hip-hop. OG Legends have set up shop there, Pharrell, Tim. Newer stars like Lil Pump, Denzel Curry and Kodak Black, keep it rejuvenated. And Florida's, shall we say, looser rules during the pandemic, have made it real boom town in the past few years anyway. But when Ross came on the scene in 2006, you have to realize there was really nothing there. At least other than Uncle Luke, Trick Daddy and Trina, party music for clubs and strip joints. DJ Khaled, is surely the other most important figure in this transition. He went from being a local Miami radio DJ to one of the city's greatest champions, to now one of the most important figures in all of modern hip hop and culture. But in the old days, Miami looked so much to New York for the musical cues.

Even Khaled tells the story of flying up to New York City on a Friday night, just to listen to Funkmaster Flex on the radio, then go to the store the next morning to buy all the records he heard Flex play the previous night. And then fly right back to Miami to play them himself on the radio. This is what you had to do in the pre-internet era. Ross's debut, Port of Miami, was the announcement and anointing of a new titan and put Miami on the map in a whole different way.

The opening bars of "Hustlin'", the fanfare, the staccato strength into the church organ, that was enough to even let you know there was a new mayor in town. In fact, come to think of it, that very mix, the crazy adrenaline energy of the strings, into this soulful gangsta vibe of the organ, will come to define the two styles of Rick Ross beats. The smash and grab drama "B.M.F." or the soulful pimped out vibe of the Maybach Music.

When I think of your music, I think this is a simplification, but there's two sides, right? There's the beautiful musical stuff you uphold in the seventies tradition. I love that you always talk about Curtis Mayfield and this stuff. And then there's what me and my friends call shit hammer music. You just want to take a hammer and smash every window and everything in your house.

I like that, shit hammer.

Shit hammer.

Shit hammer, I like that.

Yeah. And because you have MC Hammer, I guess there's a little play on that, but I want to talk about what was the music growing up? There must have been music in the house, was it a lot of soul and seventies and R&B and that stuff, that was obviously a big influence on you?

Without a doubt. My mom being from Mississippi, my dad from Florida. My mom, that's what she listened to. Johnny Taylor, Isaac Hayes. So I was, as far back as I can remember, I was listening to R&B music, soul music, gospel music. And as soon as I heard rap, as soon as I heard R&B, I remember I may have been in... shit man, second or third grade when I heard, "Cool it Now." That's something that my sister and all her friends came over to the house and I was forced to listen to that shit for five hours straight. And so, at some point, I began to enjoy and recognize the things I did, even if it was a record I didn't like, I could still listen to it. And then I would just go past what I didn't like about it and find something in the record that I liked.

Yeah.

And I think once you do that, that's what makes you extremely articulate when it comes to the records and the music and the sounds, the melodies.

Have you ever been to the Stax Museum in Memphis and seen they have Isaac Hayes' old car there?

Without a doubt. I may have been to every little shit hammer spot.

Right.

And I mean that in an iconic way. From Sun Records and just going down on Beale Street. I've spent many, many years over time. I don't roll past every artist, whoever lived in Memphis house, like that town.

Yeah. Me too. Actually. In fact, that's why I went to Clarksdale, where you talk about where you're from, where your mom's from, because a lot of people recognize it as ground zero of the blues American music. And we went to that place, Reds.

Reds, yeah.

Do you know Reds?

Right.

It's this crazy juke joint and you can't find it. It's definitely not on any map, and it just went in and it's a small hut with this dude shredding the blues. It was incredible.

Right. I've actually went to ground zero, that's owned by Morgan Freeman in Clarksdale.

Oh, is it called ground zero?

Yes. It is.

Oh shit, okay.

Yeah. It's called ground zero. And I just listened to a dude. One dude was actually playing the guitar. All his strings went out and he re-stringed the guitar while playing it. It was just some shit that was unfathomable.

Yeah. I took a road trip with Jeff Baskher who, I don't know if you met, when on Dark Twisted Fantasy. He did "All Of The Lights" and a lot of production for Kanye. Me and him decided we wanted to drive up from New Orleans to Chicago and trace the roots of the blues and the evolution, and basically the music that we love so much. So we did all the things you said, Clarksdale, Memphis, Beale Street. It was incredible.

That was a great experience. That's one for the books.

I do love that tradition of music that you keep alive and you've been doing it from the beginning. And I always know I love Certified Lover Boy, it's a great record. When "You Only Live Twice" comes on, it's like a sigh of relief though for a guy like me, that sound.

Wow.

That soul, but with the kind of fury, Bink. I actually feel like this is no shade to Bink. Bink is one of my favorite producers ever, but actually I didn't realize how many records he was still making, since I went through your catalog. You're upholding that tradition. Tell me about some of your favorite records that you made. I feel like we've got to just shout out Big for a second. I don't know why.

It only makes sense. "Santorini," Greece. That the music he made for the collab with Kanye on "Devil in a New Dress," that's in man. The "Santorini Greece," the one. Of course, he got work on this new project and Bink is just one of one, he's a very incredible producer. And if not my favorite, most definitely one of my favorites because we always make magic. He's extremely stuck in his ways. And to me, that's what makes him a genius.

There was a lot of chatter after the Kanye interview on Drink Champs. I think he said something not so nice about Just Blaze. And then everybody started to talk about who actually invented that style and really, the Blueprint style that Kanye... that thing really goes back to Big. There was a story that "When You Don't Know" by Jay came out, a lot of people called Bink to congratulate him on the record and he was, like "I didn't do a record called 'You Don't Know'", because he did originate the 45 soul sample shit and everybody else took it and did some amazing shit with it. But I was just remembering in the past month, how much I love that dude's sounds.

It's phenomenal. And what Bink does is second to none. And Ricky Rozay said it, quote me.

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There have been some wonderful connections that have come out of doing this show. In fact, after connecting for the season one finale, Damon Albarn and I ended up working on an upcoming tune featuring Wale. And immediately for following my Pharrell convo, I ended up getting back in touch with Chad Hugo, Pharrell's partner, from The Neptunes. And we spent the past week working on some new music. At one point this week, I asked Chad where he got all those amazing drum sounds from on the early Neptunes records, because they really were incredible.

And he told me, "Well, I chopped up a lot of breaks, but I also got a disc of drum sounds from Bink dog, AKA Bink." My jaw dropped, A, because I live for little hip-hop trivia like this, but B, I love the idea of these young fledgling producers who are soon going to change the sound of hip-hop in very different ways, passing their sounds back and forth like this camaraderie. And C, their sounds were actually nothing alike. The Neptunes made this gospel punk future funk, and Bink made this Blueprint-era sped up soul sample, dramatic bangers. And while Bink's name might not ring off like some of his contemporaries, he's made classics. He co-produced Black Street "Don't Leave Me", that's how far it goes back. And along with Kanye and Just Blaze, he pioneered a true sound in hip-hop. A great sound that's still alive because of artists like Drake and Rick Ross.

Is "Devil In A New Dress," of course around the time you always... this is the best verse I've ever written. Everybody knows it's an incredible verse. Is it still up there? Is it still the bar for you, the best verse. Or do you feel like you've beat it since then?

It's most definitely one of the favorites because it was all about the production, we let it breathe. I was out in Hawaii with Kanye and it was just one of those times and it was a special time. It was a special piece of art, just for the ones that still consider it, Rozay, best verse of one of, Rozay favorites. It will be talked.

And you talk about it in the book. There's a lot of great stories about... My favorite story that really is a story that changed the history of music, is about the Clipse. Kanye didn't know about Pusha. Do you mind just shedding a little light or retelling that story for everybody, because that's an incredible story?

It's just one of those things where I won't say that Ye didn't know about them. The dog was a nasty, super nice nigger, but it was just one of those times, we was in the studio and I just sparked a certain conversation.

Yeah. So basically Kanye found out that he had done a verse for TI and it had ended up on this Clipse song and he didn't know. And he was about to take it, wasn't he? Or take it off because he didn't know. And you were like, "No, the Clipse are... "Pusha's great, you should get him out here." And that really is like him signing to good music. Really. You're kind of responsible for that in some ways.

And I don't even want that responsibility. Both of them dudes. Great. You know what I'm saying?

Yeah. Well that's very nice and modest. And with the success you have, you can say that. I love the book. It's amazing that you got it out so fast because it feels like a lot of the things you're talking about, COVID, or the fungus, which I love how you call it the fungus is still among us.

The fungus is still among us.

Wow. How? Because it feels like you're writing about this stuff that we're really still in the middle of it, but your COVID story was crazy because you'd actually had it before we knew what it was.

Right. I had the fungus before we even knew what the fungus was. That's why I still refer to it as the fungus.

Yeah.

Because when I went looking for help, they was out petting elephants while I was out of the country. Did you ride a camel or... I'm like, "You're a star." This is the fungus.

Where were you? Were you somewhere exotic or something?

Oh, I most definitely went international. I had been over in London, I had been over in Paris. I had been traveling and while I was traveling, I'm going through London and I'm crossing so many Asian people at the time. And they all had their masks on. And I just remember thinking back like, yo, Michael Jackson been up on his mask 40 years ago.

So then they announced that this is what it is. And you're like, oh shit, that must be that thing that nearly took me out the game for a month. I knew without a doubt, when they told me it was two weeks. I knew without a doubt that was the fungus I had, because I remember it. I counted the days I knew it was two weeks.

Yeah. So you got to spend the most amount of time ever, probably in one place after 15 years of just the craziest grind ever. And of it, not just the grind because you love it, but what was that at first, that readjustment. Was it wonderful? Were you afraid? You talk about the fungus and how it obviously is fucking with the revenue streams, but was there some kind of peace that you had?

Most definitely. As far as what I got out of it on a personal level, I would do it all over. The time I got to spend just speaking and going back and forth with my family, my team, myself. More importantly, I went and bought the tractor, started cutting my own grass. I pulled the weeds out of my own flower beds. That type of shit. And I was just being more creative. That's when the book came into play, the Perfect Day to Boss Up. Why not?

I saw a picture of you a couple months back and it was amazing. Honestly, one of my favorite pictures I've seen is you're in the tractor and it's just a picture of a man at peace. You just look like you're in the tractor, you have the blunt, it's a good picture. It's a beautiful day, man. And that is just...

Oh, phenomenal. That's an amazing day.

Yeah. That's just something everyone wants to aspire to.

At peace, your phone off, no radio, just a blunt.

Yeah.

About 300 acres to cut.

Jesus. That is a lot. Does that take all day? You can't do that in one day. Even in a crazy John Deere you have.

It's not a chance.

So what do you do? How much can you do in a day?

The majority of the part I'm responsible for, I could cut it eight hours.

Yeah.

I usually have three or four more other homies on those spin arounds going to all the other. The terrain ain't this flat, I cover all the flat spots where I get to see the traffic and I get to see the most animals because that's what I want to see.

And the eight hours in there, are you listening to beats? Are you listening to music? Are you meditating? Just thinking like this?

No, I usually want silence.

Oh really?

Yeah. That's a great time to talk to yourself.

Yeah.

Blunt burning, you own the tractor.

Yeah.

John Deere mafia.

So the point of the book really, other than being very entertaining and a great read and great anecdotes, is really to inspire people how to boss up. Like you said, it's got business...

Yeah, without a doubt.

Was that the reason? Because the first one's a memoir and this was really to inspire. Is that why you decided to write it?

Right. The first one was about me just feeling how amazing I am. I had to fulfill that, scratch that off the list. Boom.

Yeah.

And now the second book was more about me just fulfilling the answers I get when I wake up to social media. Rozay, how do you do this? You got 20 business partners. How does this happen? And that's where the book really comes in, Perfect Day to Boss Up, which really breaks down just the fact of you've got to take advantage of those 24 hours that we all get every day.

Yeah.

We've got to make the most of those. How can we multiply our output? And that's what it's about. And that's what I tell people the most.

I really like as well, and it reminded me of something, when you talked about when you first got to the farm, because you bought this farm, Evander Holyfield's giant estate, and you realized that if you bought your own machinery, like how an entrepreneur would think, that you could save money. Right? Like why do I need to rent this?

Why rent it? Why pay 15, from my understanding, it was 17. People that was working seven days a week. I don't need that. I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to go to John Deere and go get the biggest tractor with the widest hitch. I could put on the back and I'm going to roll up 10 blunts and don't stop. Yes.

The thing that it totally reminded me instantly of, was in the FADER article back from 2006, you're driving through Miami and you're pointing at all the posters that you put up and you said, see these, we went out and we got our own printing factory and we got our own cherry pickers, so we could put the shit higher than everybody else. And I was like, wow. 15 years later, it's the same...

We're still hands on. When we own a piece of the Miami Heat, we'll be selling jerseys out front.

Yeah. How is that going? Because you talk in the book about the hundred million dollar goal, you're inching towards that. And you're just up there and to get a piece of The Heat. But I have a feeling, do you think really when you get to a hundred million, you'll get the piece of The Heat, you'll be able to sit back. I feel like with most people, once you achieve these goals, the people that can't quite sit still, there'll be a new goal.

I'm not sure because we already surpassed a hundred million. Yeah.

Congratulations. What about The Heat?

We haven't sat down and had a serious conversation. We've got a great relationship with The Heat. They know I'm going to support them, regardless of what goes down, but that's something I'd really seriously move forward if I could make that happen.

I go to therapy.

Ain't nothing wrong with that.

My therapist is always like, I take gigs, I take some gigs for money gigs, these things that I don't really want to do sometimes. And I'm always like, am I doing this because I want to do this gig or because I'm worried that the money's going to freeze up and one day the gigs are going to stop coming, the sky's going to fall in. So he's always like, well there's two main motivations of human behavior, fear and desire. So you've got to pick. You have an incredible ambition and a drive. Do you ever feel like some of that thing is driven by the same? Like what if the money runs out one day or is it a positive thing?

No, not at all. It's not about the money for me. It has to be the desire because I still could fly in late night, get on my story, talk about the music, knowing in two hours I've got to get up and do an interview, that I'm going to look forward to doing.

Yeah.

I still look forward to going to the club. I look forward to being in Vegas. I look forward to going to Dre's. I still look forward to laying my fucking outfit out, man. Deciding what watch I'm going to wear today, the rose gold, roll... what we're going to do? What... So I'm just a purist when they come to this shit right here.

And even the Bar Mitzvahs and the weddings and stuff like that, that's just like, "Okay, cool, go shake hands. Some cute kids. Why not?"

Of course. Some of the Bar Mitzvahs I've done, man, I've had some of the funnest times ever. I've been in big ass mansions and they flew me in or they put me in the backseat of a car. I've been at a Bar Mitzvah where I was in the backseat of a car and they drove me into the middle of the party. This is the car, the gift they're giving. I'm that daughter's favorite artist. I get out the backseat, and when I tell you like, yo, this shit was some of the most fun. And then I've run into so many people from the parties later on man, and we actually keep relationships. So that's what I mean by...

That's amazing.

... I love what I do. And the way I move the music I make. It just has a certain energy, I'm on some boss energy. So when people introduce themselves, they introduce me their better selves, their bigger selves.

It's amazing. I just think to myself for that girl at 13, who has Rick Ross perform at her 13 birthday party Bar Mitzvah, it's all downhill. What in her life is going to ever make her have... but whatever, that's not your problem.

We've got to continue to raise the bar. That's the challenge we've all got, man.

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The Perfect Day to Boss Up, is technically billed as an advice, how to book. And that makes sense. Ross's life is an incredible success story and his approach to making money, well, I wish I had a bit more of that. I do wish I could go into a Bar Mitzvah for like, 'hell yeah, let's do this, let's have the best time ever.' Because I'm honestly a bit more like, 'Mark you're a sell out, look what you'll do for a chat. But why shouldn't every gig be the best ever. It's a wonderful thing to know that any crowd wants to see you do your thing. And the fact that you can lift that occasion just with your presence and doing what you do, Well, that's sort of a Mitzvah in itself. You get the feeling that Ross could actually just walk around a party, smiling and high fiving. And they would instantly be psyched. That's the people's champ part of him shining through, but he earned that through talent and persistence and a whole lot of charisma.

So there's some really hilarious shit in the book, honestly. I really love... there's some little language, you tell this amazing story and it feels totally real about going to visit Kanye in Atlanta, what is it... the Tyler Perry thing. And you say the first person that walks in, you see is Rick Fox, who's running the business. And I love you have this line, I have to quote it because I was laughing out loud. This is no shade to Rick Fox. But you said, "I always knew Rick Fox to be a reliable small forward. I didn't know he was working for Kanye. If you could ever give a definition of Rick Fox, for life, there're certain players that are just great at filling those holes, but..."

No. You've got to understand. This is Rick Ross walking through the warehouse that's owned by the gentleman who owns Chick-fil-A. We stopped, shook hands with him.

Yeah.

I come walking through, Kanye's showing me around, showing me the fashion side of the warehouse. We walked through the music side, the studio side. We listen to production beats. So on and so forth. And then he walks me over into the presidential campaign side. It's one thing to know Rick Fox for being a NBA player or small forward. And it's one thing the norm, for being the NBA player or small forward and working for Kanye. And then there's knowing Rick Fox for being the NBA player or small forward, an employee for Kanye. And then the guy that's running the presidential campaign.

Oh, he's running the campaign. Okay. Wow.

Oh, I most definitely was in an amazing moment and I'd do it all over again. I wish I could have just really enjoyed the moment a little more, instead of looking around and you see Rick Fox at the chalk board, and I look to my right and Kanye's next to me and then I looked to my left. There was an older white guy, looked like a scientist.

You sure it wasn't Sean Bradley?

I'm not sure who it was. I just was like, Rozay, you got yourself in some shit today, buddy.

You tell it, you're not afraid to tell it exactly how it happened, but in a funny way. And you recognize some of the craziness of it, but then I love at the end, it's just you and Kanye. You're like, I need beats. And he is like, 'all right, well, if you got rhymes cool.' It's just like at the end of the day, because you talk about you guys go back 20 years.

Yeah, we do. We go back a long time and that was the dope thing about the whole conversation to me, was the fact that it was still about music, regardless of how much success he's having with fashion, clothes, getting to live out his dreams. That was some bucket list shit, I'm running for president. I'm sure that's real cool to talk about it, all the parties, having a glass of Luc Belaire with some friends. That's a great conversation piece, but at the end of the day it went back to the music.

Yeah.

It went back to the beach, it went back to the raps, the ideas. And so I was just like, yo, I get it. I see what he's doing.

Another thing that really stuck in my mind about the book is you've obviously been embroiled in some verbal wars yourself, but the harshest put down that you've ever heard is that we talk about the Anderson Cooper when Donald Trump lost the thing and he calls Trump an obese turtle. And I feel like that went over my head, even when that happened. But you seemed to be like a lot of respect. You're like, if there was a full fucking burn obese turtle, you'd really give it up to Anderson Cooper for that.

That was hilarious. I never could. That was funny. You've got to admit that.

It's incredible. I don't even know how I missed it the first time. And there were a lot of fuck face McOrange. There were a lot of great insults, but obese turtle really just does everything it needs to do. So the album comes out Friday.

Everybody download it December 10th.

Of course, I can't wait. So tell me about this record in an incredible discography. So much solid as much as anybody ever, what does this record mean to you and how is it maybe different?

I think what it means to me is just being somebody that was always on my own pedestal for the things I brought to the game. I think that's what made me unique, coming from the south. But the word play was much elevated than the standard or the norm. And I just got better and better. By the time I released my debut part of Miami, which a lot of people heard it as a classic, by the time I was at deeper than rap. People knew this shit was going somewhat different. Teflon Don came, Mastermind came when I put together a record with Dr. Dre, Jay-Z and myself...

Three Kings.

Yeah, Three Kings. And so I just began to show people my vision and the things I'm capable of and still capable of. And so here I am, on album number 11 and I'm still just dependent solely on the bars, the beats. That's what I've really focused on. And so when you hear these records, when you hear a little Havana and the vibe and the intro by Willie Falcon, the biggest kingpin in the history of shit. It could be the US man, just to introduce the album and set the tone. I did the rest.

Yeah. And are there any new features of people that you have ever worked with on this record or did you decide to try anything new musically?

Well, I got to actually get a verse from Major Nine, a young artist coming out of Miami. We worked in the past, "Apple of my Eye." He actually produced, he's an incredible producer, as well as a artist, as well as young and [inaudible 00:45:51] out central Florida. We did an incredible record. I really feel it's going to really hit the streets in a major, major way. And I got to exchange bars with Benny The Butcher, some cool things.

Nice.

Wale, Future, we've got on another record. Everything just sits in its own place. And I want to make sure I remain creative so that it was always not only just me being here because I wanted to, but it was a reason for me to be here.

And the book as well, I am sure there're many chapters to come, but you said, I'm not finished yet, now I want to change the world. And that's a big... you've done so much. You have so many business ventures. You've changed music. You've changed business. You have these books now, New York Times bestsellers. The way you say now, I want to change the world. It feels like it's got some kind of weight, like you're either talking about foundation, charity, political something. What's really left?

It's a lot left. Just me being the leader, me being at the forefront, it's a lot left. Just beginning with health, just beginning with ourselves. I touched on a few things last year with Jetdoc, and it's a lot more things to do and we're going to see and I'm going to keep going.

Well, I can't wait to hear the album and thank you for giving the time. Obviously I had signed Wale way back in the day and then we had to deal with Interscope that didn't work out. And the best thing that ever happened was you picking him up and I love him. And I was so happy to see that success that you guys had together. So I texted him last night. I was like, yo, give me a secret question, something to ask Rozay. And he was like, and I ain't got nothing, but I want to watch that fucking conversation. And that was funny. I was like, I think it's going to be fine.

Oh, without a doubt.

It's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for the music over the years. And I love the book and best of luck with everything.

Man, you already know, I'm here whenever you want to do something, let's make some dope shit, homie. I'm here.

Let's do it. I love the fucking bass guitar. It's my favorite. It's just like, it's your favorite.

Let's go. Let's turn up. Love.

I love the bass guitar. It's probably my favorite instrument to play. Rick Ross once told a story of putting the finishing touches on his album, Black Market. And at the very last minute, he flew out his bass player to play on all the songs, because he missed that feeling. That sound in the music from his earlier records. I knew we'd get along when I read that actually. This whole experience of hosting the Fader Uncover for the past two seasons, and living out all my teenage journal fantasies has been pretty wonderful. I'm not going to lie. It's a lot of work. Mainly because I don't know how to do anything without over preparing to the hilt. Reading books, listening to entire back catalogues, watching docs, scouring the net. And then also writing these little break pieces, hoping to keep you interested and entertained in your headphones or on the train or in the car wherever you might be.

But I've also learned so much from these brilliant guests. I can't even sit down to meditate anymore without thinking of some sage advice from Jim James of My Morning Jacket, be like the leaf. So this concludes season two of the FADER Uncovered with me, Mark Ronson. Our podcast is taking a short break and will return in early 2022. In the meantime, all episodes from season one and two are available wherever you get your podcasts. So thank you for listening. Take me out with the Fader.

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Rick Ross on Miami, “Hustlin’,” and the art of beat selection