Within four years, Rick Ross has made himself both one of Hip Hop’s most successful and most talked-about artists. On Monday, April 12 he released the latest single from what will be his fourth album, Teflon Don. During a Best of Both Offices conference call, Ross revealed the inspiration for his album and how three Brooklyn legends played a major part.
“The big homie Jay-Z, that’s the God emcee…that’s my homie,” Ross said of his former boss and one-time Def Jam president. “He’s on Teflon Don and I’ma just leave it right there. It’s magic.” Ross said he didn’t want to offer too many details about guest appearances on the album until its June 29 release date drew closer.
However, he and deejay/producer Clark Kent did explain how they came together on the lead single “Super High,” which also features contributions from Ne-Yo, DJ Don Cannon and The Remedy.
“When [DJ] Clark Kent sent this record to me, he made it clear, ‘Ross, take five minutes of your time and listen to this,’” Ross recounted. “I rolled up and actually listened to the production. I saw the music like it was in color—I saw the reds, blues and the yellows.”
The jury is still out on whether Rick Ross has experienced Synesthesia, but the experience of being around Sean “Diddy” Combs on a few remixes clearly has had an influence. He opens “Super High” with the line, “From my nigga Diddy view/I think I see his vision too…” Ross talked about being in some of the same studios Biggie laid his vocals in, and challenging himself to get close to that level, and the level of other legendary emcees.
“On this album, I’ve got concept records,” he explained. “When I think back to Nas’ record [‘I Gave You Power’] and the genius of B.I.G.’s ‘Ten Crack Commandments,’ I wanted to venture into those grounds for the first time. I felt my wordplay was to the point where I could do that in a way that I loved it.”
And while Ross aims to channel Hip Hop’s past greats in the booth and past R&B greats with his selection of beats, he didn’t want to discuss references to his pre-Rap career or his past beefs with other emcees.
“I feel we all are ‘Teflon Dons’ at some point in our lives,” Ross said of his album’s title. “It’s just when you reflect on it and really recognize that time. Going back to last year, at this point for me, is like playing Neo Geo or ColecoVision when niggas playin’ XBox. I wanna be a part of what’s next. I wanna be a part of the new generation of dope emcees and flourishing entrepreneurs.”
While Ross may not want to overtly connect the dots between a somewhat tumultuous 2009 and the upcoming title of his album, one of his peers and collaborators doesn’t mind.
“Here’s someone who survived a brutal beef with 50 Cent,” Pusha T of The Clipse told Esquire in the April issue. “He could have easily been distracted, and instead he made one of the hardest, most unforgiving songs in Hip Hop history.”
The only questions remaining are if Ross can do it again, and if revisiting that history of conflict can be a positive thing. Until June 29, listeners are left with Ross’ closing words as an answer.
“‘Teflon Don’ was the first name I ever went by” Ross explained. “That was the second tattoo I ever got in my life. It was my attitude of being able to accomplish anything I put my heart into. That’s just what I want to show the game and people listening to this music. Put your heart into whatever you’re doing and it’s all love.”