“Who the fuck you think you fuckin’ wit, I’m a fuckin’ boss!” And just like that, Ross was mainlined into the rap imagination. That single, “Hustlin,’” would go on to usher in a shadowy version of Ross filled with bombast and dripping with ambition. He was no longer Tephlon, as he was known when in Erick Sermon’s camp, and almost immediately folks smelled another thing cooking behind the scenes, and it wasn’t that Marilyn Monroe. His verses, perhaps, sounded just a bit too good to be true. In fact, he was called out by Pitchfork for his tendency to go general when the specific was all but required. “We never learn for sure where Rick Ross came from, and that prevents us from truly knowing where he’s coming from. He’s that rare, mythical creature: a rapper without a back-story,” said Sam Ubl. Ouch! They gave the album a 5.4.
Here was this round mound of Miami bravado living out his personal version of Tony Montana’s road to riches. His first album, Port Of Miami, was a portmanteau equal parts booming bass and rhymes you’d hear at a gangster-rap summer camp. That album was a McDonald’s All-American game of rags-to-riches enthusiasts including Akon, Jay Z, Jeezy and Wayne. These were men who’d carved out from desperation their own lane; their own wealth. It was the American dream incarnate. But dreams come to an end, and lo-and-behold it was revealed that Rozay wasn’t who he said he was. He wouldn’t be the first emcee to embellish a back-story, but he would probably be the last one to be taken seriously before something saying otherwise was discovered.
Outed by Miami rap pioneer and journalist Sam Ferguson, Ross denied profusely the claim that he was once a CO instead of the drug pushing gangster he’d allegedly created. So furious was Ross at his outing that he had this to say to an interviewer, “Ferguson is a liar, he’s an informant, he’s a rat, he’s a b***h… This s**t (is) about to get deeper than rap.” It apparently did get deep for Ferguson (with Rick Ross not involved) as he died in a hail of bullets around a year later. Ross was never implicated at all in the crime, but it wouldn’t be the last time Rozay would be around or allegedly involved in an act of grave violence. Here, we run through a brief history of things around Ross getting, well, deeper than rap.
Kidnapping in Fayette County
Being a boss means having to muscle disrespect, even in the smallest ounce. Allegedly, Ross and his bodyguard Nadrian James assaulted landscaper Jonathan Zamudio for an unknown reason. According to reports, both individuals fought, pistol-whipped and held Zamudio in the guesthouse against his will. Chipping the landscaper’s tooth, both Ross and James were arrested for aggravated assault and aggravated battery charges. Interestingly enough, events took place at Rozay’s mega-mansion that was once owned by Evander Holyfield. Seems like Fayette County isn’t welcoming the “Hustlin” rapper much either. Weeks before, he was stopped and detained for marijuana charges. Being a man of humor, Ross later announced on Twitter that he bailed out himself and a few fellow inmates out. Will the pear connoisseur eventually make friends with his neighbors with two arrests on his record? Here’s hoping for the best.
The Sam Ferguson Shooting
A mere ten months after coaxing a beaming Rick Ross into admitting that he’d once spent time as a correctional officer before screaming to the front of Hip Hop’s rat pack, Sam Ferguson’s car was riddled by a deluge of bullets going north on Florida’s turnpike. He likely never even saw the black auto with dark black tints roaring up behind and then beside him before his tan sedan was drilled. A major investigation was launched into the shooting, but nothing has turned up regarding shooting then subsequent crash. He’d lived a tumultuous life, sticky in the blaring Miami heat, but the outing of Ross brought him fame and an upturn in his luck that 2008. As a journalist, he’d broken one of the largest Hip Hop stories ever. And, with that under his belt, he’d become the head of Don Diva magazine, a South Florida publication pining for eyes. For Ross, the eerie timing of the shooting was overshadowed by his subsequent beef with 50 Cent and chants of “Officer Ricky.” There were never any charges levied the way of Rick Ross or any member of his team or person that he knows, and there’s no doubt Sam Ferguson’s past dealings in both crime and music had made him a few enemies. In fact, the story gets even more labyrinthine, as the infamous leader of a violent cult long thought defunct resurfaced in the Ferguson case.
Rick Ross Corners DJ Vlad
In a lawsuit filed on August 15, 2008 in a Federal New York court, Vlad Lyubovny (DJ Vlad) claimed that Rick Ross orchestrated a “brutal” attack against him at the Ozone Awards in Houston the previous Saturday. This too, alleged in a press release from Vlad’s attorney Brian Caplan, was done in “retribution for media coverage of Rick Ross’ prior life as a correctional officer.” You absolutely cannot make this stuff up. Also according to the suit, and as reported on by MTV News, Vlad received a text message that afternoon saying, “Nigga will learn… Trilla.” Vlad then asked whom it was and was met with, “Ross… I’m hearing things,” according to the suit. What followed next is nothing short of a scene out of a Brian De Palma film. The suit alleged that he then received a call from Ross in which Vlad reported Ross as saying, “I’ve been hearing things about me on your Web site. … We gonna make a story. … We going to see each other. … We going to talk. … Where are you?” Vlad told him, of course. And as they met up at the Hilton hotel in Houston, Ross with four other men in tow, they had a brief conversation before he was surrounded and attacked. All this came after Ross said, ‘We got beef,’ the suit alleged.
Almost two full years later, Ross was ordered to pay up a total of $300K — less than 10% of what he was sued for. On the verdict, feeling triumphant, he had this to say, “I’ve been fighting a $4 million lawsuit for the last two years. My defense was a success. I’ve got to salute Xavier Donaldson, my attorney. Whenever an artist or anybody is put in a position such as a lawsuit in this capacity, so much evidence is represented — videotapes, what have you — to be able to walk out of a courtroom giving the plaintiff less than 10 percent of what he requested, I consider my defense a success. God bless America! The lawsuit is done. Even though I plan to appeal the decision, I thank the courts for the monetary decision that they made. They were extremely lenient, I appreciate that. It’s back to the business for the boss.”
Rick Ross’s Maybach Shot Up In Miami
Rick Ross barely escaped a drive-by shooting, on this occasion, before running his Maybach off the road. Around 18 bullets peppered his vehicle while Rozay was stopped at a red light after celebrating his birthday with a woman by the name of Shateria Moragne-el. The assailants then sped off, but neither Ross nor his female passenger was hurt in the attack. Just why Ross got attacked is anyone’s guess, but, always ready to take a shot at his old rival, 50 Cent claimed the shooting had been faked no bullet holes were seen on the vehicle. All leads in the case were exhausted, and to our knowledge no one was charged. But, interestingly enough, a few months prior, the GD’s began to target Ross in a series of videos ran on WSHH. Apparently the beef was over his usage of their famed leader’s name Larry Hoover. In the videos, they demanded payment for the reference, and for the use of the six-point Star of David on his mixtape cover for The Black Bar Mitzvah. Both Gunplay and Wale commented on the shooting, with Gunplay claiming Rozay was fine, and Wale heightening the seriousness of what took place.
Beef With 50 Cent
Alongside Game, Ross is the only rapper to engage 50 Cent in Mortal Hip Hop Kombat and manage to have his career still intact. While the initial details of the beef are still unclear, Rozay said Fiddy looked at him wrong backstage at one BET Award ceremony. After that, the MMG king dropped “Mafia Music” which featured this shot at G-Unit’s general: “Curtis Jackson baby mama, I ain’t askin’ for a cent, burn the house down nigga, you gotta buy another. Don’t forget the gas can, jealous stupid motherfucker.” After that, the following events went from strange and bizarre to sinister. This included one of Fiddy’s goons spying on DJ Khalid’s mother, and animated shorts from both sides. Then, that infamous sex-tape with Ross’ baby mother and 50 Cent providing the greatest porn color commentary of the era hit the web. Regardless, “Mafia Music” only added to Deeper Than Rap’s success and Rozay’s career only grew from there. Meanwhile, Mr. Jackson’s music career continued to flounder. To this day, both sides continue to throw shits at each other while everyone gathers their popcorn for enjoyment.
Rick Ross Vs. Jeezy
As the major battles in his still on-going war with 50 Cent came to an end, he found himself beefing with Jeezy after releasing “BMF(Blowin Money Fast).” A few years into being exposed as a correctional officer, comparing himself to Black Mafia Family co-head Big Meech was obviously going to ruffle some feathers. That included Young Jeezy who had serious links to BMF. A shame considering that both were and still are members of Def Jam’s roster. This lead The Snowman himself to reply with a freestyle to the Lex Luger instrumental titled “Death B4 Dishonor” which featured these venomous line: “How you blowin’ money fast/ You don’t know the crew/ Oh, you part of the fam?/ Sh–, I never knew.” Ross fired back his own shots during various interviews like one done with BBC’s Tim Westwood. A year later at the 2012 BET Hip Hop Awards, both camps went to blows in a video that’ll live in infamy. Ross even threatened to “choke out” Jeezy if the two ever met again. Thankfully, T.I. in his infinite wisdom intervened and squashed the beef between the two. Eventually, the two would even collaborate for “War Ready” Ross’ Mastermind album.
Andre Grant is an NYC native turned L.A. transplant that has contributed to a few different properties on the web and is now the Features Editor for HipHopDX. He’s also trying to live it to the limit and love it a lot. Follow him on Twitter @drejones.
Ural Garrett is a Los Angeles-based journalist and HipHopDX’s Senior Features Writer. When not covering music, video games, films and the community at large, he’s in the kitchen baking like Anita. Follow him on Twitter @Uralg.