Rick Ross wants to drop some jewels.
The Miami rap superstar is one of Hip-Hop's most ambitious moguls. He's built his Maybach Music empire from the ground up, and pushed his interests into a myriad of entrepreneurial endeavors and lucrative business partnerships. His new book The Perfect Day To Boss Up illustrates what he's learned as a businessman and he shared with ROCK THE BELLS why he wanted to share his knowledge.
"Once the pandemic came in, I started being on social media more than ever," says Rozay from his Atlanta mansion. "And I'd get four, five questions every day, always the same thing. 90% of them? 'How do you do it?' 'How do I boss up?' I currently got twenty partnerships. In another year, shit, it may be fifty."
For Ross, (born William Leonard Roberts II), the seed was sown early. Even as a youth absorbing Hip-Hop's classic years in real time, as much as he watched the star rocking the mic, he also had his eye on the guy signing the check.
"As much as I loved the game, I was listening to the music, but I was also studying the big boys, like Luke, that was manufacturing and distributing their own music," he recalls. "I was interested in Run-D.M.C., but I was also watching Russell Simmons—more than, I'm sure, the average fan was. I wanted to not only be a part of the music, but the culture—the business. That was just as fun to me as touring; if you was the CEO and you took a youngster off the street and he had a platinum record now. For me, that might be more exciting than on a damn tour."
Ross has found extra motivation in recent events; from Black Lives Matter in the wake of George Floyd's murder, to the tragic passing of so many beloved stars like Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, and most recently, Michael K. Williams. And in these times, Ross says that he needs young people to understand some things.
"As a Black man, [I'm] just making sure that it's clear to the youngsters what our focus [should be]," he states. "What's cool and what's not cool. Make sure youngsters know that knowledge is the ultimate high. I've made poor choices in my past. But you see what we just lost with DMX. We watched that brotha struggle for many years, but I would've never would've thought we'd lose the brotha at such a young age. But we've gotta take and learn from that."
"I would've loved to have something from DMX to hold onto after the brotha is gone because I understand how valuable and priceless his wisdom was. We can't get that from nobody else. Can't nobody duplicate the spirit of DMX. So for the brothers who are winning, we've got to drop gems."
Ross is supportive of making sure the public sees Black men climbing the ladder. His feud with 50 Cent is well-documented, and Ross still shrugs off any suggestion that things aren't still frosty between them while acknowledging that success isn't about becoming buddies with everyone.
"He still ridin' in the trunk," Ross says dismissively of 50. "But as a boss, there's no greater feeling than when we you become successful without the help of the fakes or the fake love. These other entertainers are not the priority. Not at all. When you're chasing your dreams, just go hard."
As a matter of fact, Rick Ross believes you should embrace your outsider status early. Or at the very least, let it fuel you as you build yourself up. Don't expect people to support you.
Rick Ross, Andre "Dre" Christopher Lyon, Marcello "Cool" Antonio Valenzano, and DJ Irie attend the 911 NFT Art Car Global Reveal & Live Art Experience at InterContinental Hotel on April 20, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/Getty Images)
Rick Ross performs onstage during day 3 at Rolling Loud Miami 2021 at Hard Rock Stadium on July 25, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images)
"Whatever it is you're doing, don't expect a lot of love at the beginning," he says.
"Don't expect a lotta people to see your vision. They not supposed to see your vision. But it's going to get to a certain point where they will bow down and see your vision and they will acknowledge your vision."
It's clear that if you're waiting for validation, Rick Ross doesn't believe you can ever truly get started on your path: visualizing and self-actualization are keys.
"If you're a fashion designer, sometimes you gotta make that shit and wear it yourself. Somebody will feel it. Sometimes, you can't wait for the co-sign."
His business instincts have led him to a famous partnership with Wing Stop, and this spring, Ross made headlines with his $1 million dollar investment in Tommy Duncan’s healthcare startup Jetdoc, a mobile virtual urgent care application founded to provide affordable coverage for underserved Black and brown communities.
"For me, first and foremost, it's gotta be genuine interest, not just about a dollar," Ross says of his moves. "It's gotta be genuine interest. Because I've got to really want to put my heart into it. If my heart isn't into it, if it's about a dollar, soon as it begins to fail, you'll jump ship. A lot of times in business, something can take off and then dip. But as long as your heart is in it, as long as it's something you love, that shit could take back off and keep climbing. It's gotta be something that I genuinely want to be a part of it. Secondly comes the paper, but I've got to want to be a part of it, first."
And health matters to Rozay. In 2018, he suffered a series of debilitating seizures. He detailed the experienced in his 2018 memoir Hurricanes. But the health scares sparked his dedication to improving his lifestyle.
"I've been overweight my whole life," he says. "But I'd always been an athlete. Could hit somebody with that two-piece, had a nice sprint, you know. But certain things I was doing took a toll on me and I began having those seizures. What shocked me the most was when I told everybody, so many big homies and celebrities took me to the side and said 'I had a seizure, too.' It made me realize how many other people had so many issues."
Now, when he reflects on his health (Ross also contracted COVID-19 last year), he understands that part of the issue is his devotion to the grind.
"It came down to me chasing my dream so much I wasn't getting no sleep," says Ross. "Not resting. Of course, I was drinking codeine and doing some other things. But even as soon as I cut that off, the fact that I wasn't resting--I was still having these seizures. Now I take a nap during the day! An hour or two, I'm doing better! I never thought I would do that."
Rick Ross is building an empire. He's had to pull back and understand how to balance ambition with self-love and taking care of your body; but make no mistake, Rick Ross is all about the grind. He's smarter about it these days, but that drive has never diminished.
"I may have had an issue, but I wanted to succeed so badly that for every hour I laid in the bed, I felt like I was losing," he explains. "So that's what I try to explain to other people: when you come and sit at the table and talk about doing business with me, I pray that you understand how much this shit means to me. Do I have a problem? I don't know. But I know I'm not comfortable with wasting time. Let's win, homie."
* HEADER CREDIT: Rapper Rick Ross attends 2021 Sovereign Brands Summer Fest at the Great Lawn at the Promiseland Estate on July 31, 2021 in Fayetteville, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)