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Independent Weekly: “Rick Ross’ Sluggish Crawl Toward Maturity”


Like everybody else on the internet, I pontificated about Rick Ross and how he’s sorta awesome right now but also really, really retarded? I was able to sneak in some mini-history lessons on “Freeway” Ricky Ross and the whole C.I.A/crack conspiracy too, which was cool. This was interesting because I wrote my piece last week, along with all the other people writing their thinkpieces and it’s fun to see where pieces intersect and where they go off in some weird, other direction. Click below to read it:

“Looking at him [in 1979], one would not have imagined the slender, slightly pop-eyed teenager to be a successor to anything but a hard row to hoe. A sometime thief, sometime student, he was clinging to a tattered dream of becoming a professional tennis player.”

So wrote Gary Webb in his 1999 book, Dark Alliance, offering a description of “Freeway” Ricky Ross, the LA crack kingpin and CIA/ contra/ crack conspiracy fall guy—and the dude from whom William Leonard Roberts II, better known as the rapper Rick Ross, swiped his name. Neither slender nor pop-eyed, Ross is bearded and bloated and raps in an abyssal growl, mostly about how he’s a superhero cocaine dealer. His debut single, “Hustlin’,” from 2006’s Port of Miami, housed absurd boasts like “I know Pablo, Noriega—the real Noriega” over a booming loop of organ, synth, and wordless, spaghetti western vocals.

The Miami rapper appeared at the height of the last decade’s wave of weirdly clever, gleefully nihilistic crack rap—Clipse, Dipset, Young Jeezy—and reduced it to absurdity. Some rappers dismantled their boasts with an ugly aside or tinge of regret, but Ross had no time for novelistic detail or insight. It was all epic, coke-rap fibs. One day, a picture of the rapper in a correctional officer’s uniform appeared on the Internet. Though Ross initially claimed the photo was doctored, he eventually confessed: He’d been a C.O. for about 18 months, from December 1995 to mid-1997. Strangely, the street cred-destroying revelation didn’t signficantly affect the success of 2008’s follow-up, Trilla. No one took him seriously in the first place…

I’d also like to focus on a few other pieces on Ross for a moment. Joey of Straight Bangin’s excellent piece, “The Best Bawse That We’ve Heard This Far”, which begrudgingly accepts the rapper from a distance, Zach Baron’s “Who Does Rick Ross Think He Is?” which applies logic and reason to Ross’ delusional persona (killer line: “Because make no mistake: Ross’s targets aren’t random.”), and Jon Caramanica’s bizarrely naive review of Teflon Don, in which the Times writer somehow buys into every nod to “consciousness” and seriousness that Rawwss throws out there.

Written by Brandon

July 22nd, 2010 at 2:48 am