Rick Ross: Richer Than I’ve Ever Been

Rick Ross cover oct/nov 2020 4
Rick Ross

Photo Credit: Alessandro Martino

RICK ROSS TAKES ON MULTILEVEL WEALTH

BY VIOLET CAMACHO

CREATIVE DIRECTOR MICHAEL TAMZIL

PHOTOGRAPHY ALESSANDRO MARTINO

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY NOEL SANTOS

PHOTOGRAPHER ALESSANDRO MARTINO

STYLIST DEDRICK THOMAS

It’s the end of September in Miami, and rapper Rick Ross has flown in from Atlanta for his first in-person shoot since quarantining at his Georgia estate. Miami, his forever home, is where he chose to have this story set. During a year in which our collaborative world has come undone under the same crisis and the United States has shown the world just how far we still need to go for human equality, Ross is emerging ready to rock our collective consciousness with a new album, “Richer Than I’ve Ever Been,” which drops in January 2021. In the wake of the release of the single “Pinned to the Cross,” he shares his thoughts about the state of our country from the perspective of a Black man that leaves no room for interpretation. Here we sit with Ross as we talk about the album, his Instagram activity during quarantine, self-discovery, success as a serial entrepreneur, and what young people need to know about multilevel wealth.

HL: “Pinned to the Cross” is a powerful song with a strong message. What was your intention when you recorded it?

That was me addressing the current issues going on in the streets. Not just the pandemic, but more specifically what’s going on in the Black community. I felt like I couldn’t move on without addressing what’s happening. What’s cool about the record is that I sent it to one of my homies to put a young lady on the chorus, and he actually put a young white man on it. I think that’s what the message is all about. The song is not about race — it’s about your talent, what you bring to the table. Of course, I could have had John Legend on the record, but I let a young, white, unknown artist [Finn Mathews] be on it and gave him an opportunity. I think that speaks volumes.

HL: What does the album’s title mean to you?

A lot of different things. To be richer than you’ve ever been, you have to be connected with yourself more than you ever have. Before you open up and allow someone else to love you, you have to love yourself. And that’s just one of the things — I could smoke all day and night and tell you 100 things that it means to me. On the surface, some would say, of course, “Rozay got to the money,” and that is true — I’m in a better position than I’ve ever been. But it’s much deeper than that.

HL: How has this pandemic affected you personally? What have you discovered about yourself?

I most definitely have noticed my flaws more than I ever have. Being successful, running around, you don’t have much time to really sit down and reflect and recognize the things you could be doing so much better. The things you can invest in, even if it’s just 15 more minutes every day. And that begins with yourself and everybody else who means the most to you.

Rick Ross cover oct/nov 2020 3Photo Credit: Alessandro MartinoHL: The world watched as you and 2 Chainz battled it out with your catalogs of music on Instagram Verzuztv. How did that come to pass?

That was cool, it was dope. When Swizz hit me with the idea, I made it clear what I was hearing from the streets as other names were coming up as well. Swizz Beatz is a person I respect. He’s brought a lot of business to my table, and it’s always been positive. So I told him, “I’m not questioning it, let’s do it!” And I respect 2 Chainz for showing up and repping himself like he did. I’m gonna be honest, there’s a lot of people who wouldn’t accept that Rozay challenge. Ninety-five percent of other artists would have come down with Covid that morning and they couldn’t make it, they lost their sense of taste or smell and all that other bullsh-t. But homey came through and definitely represented like a boss, so I salute him.

HL: Since we last talked, you’ve had a couple of health scares. In March 2018 you were hospitalized after being found unconscious, and you have a history of seizures. How are you doing today?

That’s one of the other definitions of “Richer Than I’ve Ever Been.” It’s my health and where I am now. I’m coming on close to two years without a seizure, which would be the first time in a decade. And that’s big. I’m focusing on my health, resting a little more, eating a little better. You know I’m still going to run around a little bit. There are certain things I may never be able to change, but I’m working on myself, just a little bit at a time, and I’m seeing those improvements.

HL: Will we see and feel these personal transitions in your new music?

Well, the music is about “Let’s become powerful, let’s attain those things that we couldn’t, because we are attaining them as we speak.” I don’t want to be one of those dudes who’s getting money and scared to discuss that. I understand there are a lot of things you do keep private when it comes to money. But at the same time, somebody has to be an example to show youngsters that you can make this happen. Yeah, most definitely you can enjoy your own champagne, you can enjoy your own cheeseburgers or your own lemon-pepper wings or whatever it is you want to enjoy. If you want to own a car dealership, do it — take it to the next level. On this album, most definitely, I feel it’s going to be special in a lot of different ways. I had more time to sit there with the music and my producers, the production, the recording, than I would have if it weren’t for the pandemic. I believe that you are going to feel it. It’s going to resonate on many different levels.

Rick Ross cover oct/nov 2020 5Photo Credit: Alessandro MartinoHL: It seems like you only invest in things you really love and enjoy, and that’s the secret to your success.

I believe so, too. I’m not a genius at all, and I don’t surround myself with a huge team of strangers and people with college degrees who use words I don’t. That doesn’t mean anything to me. To me it’s really all about the concept, the idea, and if the passion is really there. I ask myself: Do I really believe in this? If I believe in it, it’s going to work. And it’s hard to see anything fail once I really dedicate myself to it, because I’m going to reach out to everybody to support it the same way I support whatever it is you have going on —  whatever it is D. Wade has going on, whatever it is Udonis has going on, whether it’s the 800° pizza spot, I’m going to pull up and I’m going to rep. To me that’s what business is all about. The foundation of all business is networking. From Wingstop to RICH by Rick Ross, Belaire, Bambu, McQueen and the Violet Fog — I think with the success of all the brands that I’ve partnered up with, I’m witnessing this transition going from start-up company to powerhouse. And whatever market it is that I take on, I realize that my most valuable asset is my time. It’s not even my money — I get the biggest return on products that I really invest time in. I still love lemon-pepper wings; I still sip my Belaire everywhere I go. I start my day with it. And that’s just the facts. If I love it, it’s not work to me.

HL: What does “multilevel wealth” mean to you?

Multilevel wealth…well, it defines me in the way that me becoming a millionaire may be in a dozen different ways. We began multiple projects, and we’re seeing seven-figure returns as we continue to expand. I’m negotiating with a protein company, Rap Snacks, because I like their potato chips. I put it on my Instagram story, and 48 hours later, we were in the middle of a negotiation. To me that’s what it’s about, whether it’s about being a franchisee, being in the alcohol business, or being in the marijuana business. Shout-out to Burner and my partner Cookies — we launched [cannabis brand] Collins Ave, and we have three new flavors that are selling out crazy. Cookies was one of the first to get one of the 20 [cannabis] licenses in Florida, so we’re looking to take over Florida and do business with everybody. We are in the hemp business, the marijuana business, the liquor business, the sports business — we are doing it all, and to me, that is what multilevel wealth is when you get money not just one way, not just two, but in multiples.

HL: We’ve been watching you on Instagram in the mornings doing your barefoot walks. Tell us about that.

Ha! Yeah, I call them “barefoot chronicles.” I wake up early in the morning and I’m in the zone, and I walk outside with a spliff, playing music, barefoot, wanting to get the dew in between my toes. I say a prayer, I think of something that I’ve never thought of, and I expand my vision.

Rick Ross cover oct/nov 2020 2Photo Credit: Alessandro MartinoHL: Miami is very special to you, even though you have residences in other places. Why is that?

I was raised right here, graduated, the whole nine yards. Miami 305 will forever be the foundation, but there’s a lot of money to get, and that’s global. That’s what I want the youngsters to see: You can’t just sit in one spot to get money. That’s what multilevel wealth is. That’s getting money in New York, in L.A., Miami, Atlanta, Madagascar, Africa! Wherever the business is, there’s a good chance Rozay may end up there. There’s no telling where my next estate might be, and I look forward to it.

HL: What are your promotional plans for the release of the new album? How are you staying close to your fans during the Covid pandemic?

I have my team at MMG and Epic looking at the big picture and handling the release of the album from a promotional perspective. For me personally, what has changed already is, for example, the barefoot chronicles. If we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic, that’s something Rozay would have never done, because under normal circumstances we would be traveling the world performing. I get thousands of DMs every day asking me how I lost weight and if it was surgery, and it wasn’t. So what I do is I show them what I begin my day eating. I start with eggs, a little kale, turkey bacon. I do that for the people who really want to see it. It’s also creating content and staying in touch with my fans and my loved ones.

Is there a track on the album that means more to you? How is this album different than your previous ones?

I have those special records. I most definitely have those types of records that you feel, and you express your pain, you express your flaws. On this one, it’s my flaws that I acknowledge the most. I think it’s cool to acknowledge your flaws because that’s a sign of success. Failure is a sign of success. If you’re around someone who’s never failed, there’s a good chance they are not successful.

HL: What are you dreaming about now?

Just about seeing everything we’ve begun being executed. Let’s begin something, but let’s see it through — let’s finish it. Other than that, let’s make sure we clean the table and get all the money that’s meant for us. And let’s learn to ride our horses really good. Let’s overcome that fear.

Rick Ross cover oct/nov 2020 1Photo Credit: Alessandro Martino

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