Rick Ross released his sixth studio album Mastermind on March 31, 2014. This was his first album release in nearly two years but that hasn't stopped the king of Maybach Music from gaining popularity. Very much anticipated by fans of the controversial hip-hop artist, Mastermind shot to number one on the Billboard Music Chart with recorded sales of 179,000 copies in its first week. The Mastermind tour started in November 2013 and continues throughout the summer of 2014 with stops in major cities such as Atlanta, Detroit, and Los Angeles before heading overseas.
Born William Leonard Roberts II, Ross adopted his stage name in homage to the notorious drug trafficker "Freeway" Rick Ross. His controversial style won't win him any awards with parents and has even lost Ross some major endorsements, such as Reebok in 2012. His fan base stays loyal though and even after nearly two years without an album release, he remains more popular than ever.
Ross was born in Mississippi and raised in southern Florida. His rap style embraces much of Miami culture and many references to the Florida city are made throughout Rick Ross' music. Heavily influenced by hip-hop's greatest such as Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur, many thought Ross wouldn't make it in the rap world due to his age and stature. Ross proved that talent trumps youth as the larger than life (literally) rapper continues to build his empire despite dropping his first solo album at the ripe old age of 30.
The beginning of Rick Ross
Rick Ross' debut album Port of Miami came crashing onto the hip hop scene in 2006 and made Ross a household name. The often featured rapper was upgraded and began to feature many other hit makers on his own albums. The success of his first single "Hustlin'" caused a record label bidding war and Rick Ross came out the winner of a multi-million dollar deal with Def Jam Records. "Hustlin'" achieved RIAA gold status in May 2006 and the complete album was released the following August.
Ross released his sophomore album Trilla in 2009 also under Def Jam Records, Slip-N-Slide Records, and Poe Boy Entertainment. Although this album did not sell as many copies as his first, Trilla went gold with upwards of 700,000 copies sold in the United States. Rick Ross; second album is known for street anthems such as "The Boss," "Speedin'," and "Here I Am."
As with any other successful artists, Rick Ross went on to form his own label called Maybach Music Group. MMG has been successful in signing big names like Wale, Meek Mill, French Montana, Omarion, and Gunplay. After a Def Jam contract expiration, MMG was able to gain distribution through Atlantic Records and is currently one of the largest and most successful hip hop labels. The recognizable voice of Jessica Gomes announcing "Maybach Music" at the beginning of each song has become the signature of all MMG artists.
There has been much controversy surrounding the Miami rapper in recent years, mostly due to heavy drug references within his lyrics. Having adopted his rap identity from the likes of a notorious drug trafficker, Rick Ross definitely set critics ablaze when news of his former career as a correctional officer went public. Pictures of Ross in his law enforcement uniform went viral and many questioned his authenticity as one who often raps about guns and drugs.
Rick Ross lost his shoe deal with Reebok after appearing on the Rocko song "U.O.E.N.O." Women's rights groups such as UltraViolet took action and ran a successful petition after the controversial lyrics were released. The rhyme in question goes, "Put molly all in her champagne/she ain’t even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that/she ain’t even know it." While Ross maintains that he does not condone date rape and that he was not promoting rape culture, the court of public opinion won out. Ross lost his Reebok deal even after apologizing profusely and a version of the Rocko song was released without the Maybach rapper on the song.