Rick Ross: "I Found Out I Didn't Like Myself"
1 year ago
Why the former drug kingpin is committed to changing his life and community
In part II of an exclusive interview with Loop 21, former '80s drug kingpin Freeway Ricky Ross is joined by his business partner, Antonio Moore to speak on the glamorization of thug and drug culture by record labels and rap artists, his recent legal battle with Miami rapper Rick Ross over the use of his name, what he is doing to change the image associated with his name, and the responsibility he takes for his contributions to the culture lauded by so many young black men.
You can read part I, Rick Ross: Hip Hop's War on Young Black Men, here.
Loop 21: Why do you think the media portrays black men negatively? How do they benefit?
Moore: I think the media is being irresponsible, and are purely motivated by profit. It’s taking the simplest line to make a profit. Right now, America has accepted that black men are America’s criminal. And as a result, the more that you reflect that image, the more that people tune in. But when you start showing images of people like myself on television, it doesn’t have the same caché.
Ross: In the media, good news is not something that’s celebrated. When I go out and speak, people have the nerve to ask me, why should we listen to you? Why should our kids listen to what you have to tell them about drugs, when you did all of this? So what winds up happening is that they only look at the bad side of us, and never the good.
I believe that the system is working just the way it was planed to work. I don’t believe that they ever had plans on the young black man living up to his true potential. It benefits them to have a rapper go out and portray this image so that thousands of other young black men will try to follow in his footsteps. Everybody has their own choices on what they want to do with their lives, but sometimes when you brainwash somebody so much, you’re really taking their choice away from them.
Moore: One of the questions we’ve gotten in a number of arenas is what’s the difference between this rapper talking about Rick’s life, and Rick putting out his biopic about his life. What people who say that mean is they haven’t read the screenplay, and they don’t understand that the depths of a drug dealer’s experiences aren’t necessarily in the highs, but in the lows, and the losses. And right now, the rapper, unlike other rappers who came before him, doesn’t rap about the lows. He raps about fanciful highs that go higher than probably the normal drug dealer even experiences. He doesn’t rap about losing friends and things like that too much. So all you get is that fanciful life.
Loop 21: Why do you think the labels do this? How do they benefit?
Ross: I believe that the benefit comes from the same place as media. I don’t know if they sit down and say they want to necessarily destroy the black man, but I think they are complicit in it by not dealing with the fact that it’s irresponsible to put that image out there, even if it is profitable given the reality of the atrocious number of black men going to prison. And I think record labels profit off of it just because of record sales and because we as black people support the concerts.
Loop 21: Who is more to blame for the promotion of this violent image, in your opinion: The record labels or the artists themselves?