Did Reebok Owe Rick Ross a Second Chance?

April 18th, 2013

(Photo: Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Reebok)

By Gee King

Rick Ross feels he deserves a second chance. Citing “corporate forgiveness,” the MMG boss reportedly told friends that he feels betrayed by Reebok’s decision to drop him in wake of his “U.O.E.N.O.” controversy. TMZ is saying he stands to lose between $3 to $5 million because he was getting paid every time he wore the sneakers in public. But the damage he’s done to his reputation as a boss and aspiring mogul may be even more costly when all is said and done.

Ross has showed undying ambition on his rise to the top of the rap game. Since introducing himself to the world on his 2006 anthem “Hustlin’,” the Miami representative has stacked a catalog of hits and number one albums on his way to building a mainstream music empire. Love or hate his music, it’s hard to front on Ross’ business savvy and marketing mind considering the platform he’s been able to create for his Maybach Music Group roster. Wale, Meek Mill and the rest of his crew have struggled to live up to the hype that Ross gassed up for them, but the mere fact that he was able to give them the opportunity is rare in today’s mainstream rap world. Overlooking moral victories, the underwhelming success of solo projects from his two top prospects, Wale and Meek, already had Ross’s business momentum stalling before things went left with the Reebok deal. Now that corporate America has turned its back on him, he has a lot to prove before he can seriously claim to be a true boss anytime soon.

The way he’s handled the situation so far has exposed him as less of a boss than the moguls he fancies as peers. While no member of the hip hop community is completely immune to the possibility of corporate America flipping the script, Jay-Z, Diddy and Russell Simmons have thrived off their ability to pimp the system before it pimps them. Ross may have felt like a boss while he was collecting checks for rocking Reebok re-releases, but the people cutting his checks showed the true nature of their relationship when they cut him loose the second he compromised profits.

“I’ll die over these Reeboks,” growled Ross just a couple bars before his infamous lines on “U.O.E.N.O.” Context notwithstanding, his rhymes suggest anything but a boss’ mentality. They clearly weren’t ready to die for him, despite his claim that they owe him for bringing the brand back to relevance. The irony of his words rivals the shockwaves his exposure as a former corrections officer sent through the hip hop world a few years ago. So can the Teflon Don bounce back again?

He doesn’t appear to be too phased by the incident, having recently posted a picture of himself rocking retro Air Jordan Vs on his Instagram profile. But if he knows what’s good for the future of his legacy, he’ll take a few serious lessons from this ugly saga. Besides eliminating drugging from his dating habits, he should consider humbling himself and acknowledging the concerns of fans and critics alike. He should also stop the hokey pokey games and decide whether he wants to plant his feet in the streets or the corporate boardroom. But before he does any of that, Rick Ross needs to check himself and ask if he truly has what it takes to be a boss at the highest levels of American entertainment. If not, he’s only in for more disappointments and embarrassments in his future endeavors.

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