Rick Ross: Hip Hop's War on Young Black Men
1 year ago
“People are getting a view of black men that is not only incorrect, but is very dangerous"
The name Rick Ross might conjure images of the large-bellied Miami rapper who stirred emotions earlier this week when he name dropped Trayvon Martin in a new song with Usher, but it was made famous long before William Leonard Roberts II (the rapper’s real name) came on the scene. The original “Freeway’ Rick Ross was the drug kingpin in the ’80s, turning thousands of people on to crack cocaine, from his home in South Central Los Angeles to the streets of Baltimore. It was later discovered that the CIA used his operation to fund their war against the Nicaraguan government. Originally sentenced to life in 1996, he was released in 2009. Ross has now made it his mission to keep black kids off the street and out of prison. He has a pending documentary (Crack in the System, to be directed and produced by Marc Levin, who helmed Brick City and Gang War: Bangin; In Little Rock) and a biopic in the works to tell his story, and he is still suing the rapper for using his name, despite a setback earlier this year.
In the first installment of a two part series we sat down with Ross and his business partner, Antonio Moore, to discuss the lasting affects of the drug culture Ross helped create, why hip-hop glamorizes that life, and how that negative image contributes to violence against young black men, as in the case of Trayvon Martin.
Loop 21: How do you think the music industry glamorizes the drug culture you helped create?
Rick Ross: I think it’s terrible when you have people who have never sold drugs, and never been in the drug game say that they have, and say that they attribute their success to selling drugs. Could you imagine what kind of damage it would do if Donald Trump suddenly said that he accumulated all of his wealth from selling drugs? It would send a message to the people that is crazy. And why would he do it? I mean why wouldn’t he just tell people the real about how he accomplished his success? I mean, most people do.
Loop 21: Why do you think it’s glamorized?
Antonio Moore: I’m a former prosecutor, and what I believe is happening is that nobody wants to deal with the fact that black men are the most imprisoned people in the history of the world. And 10,000 per 100,000 are put in prison now. During apartheid in South Africa, the numbers were like 800 per 100,000 to put it in comparison. The reality is a reflection of that glamour. You have these young men who are cycling through the prison system, and when they come out, they want to see reflections of what they just came out of, and then that leads to a cycle. And then the labels themselves irresponsibly profiteer off that. They put that image out there, then go home to their nice homes where they don’t know anybody who is going to prison.