Why Rick Ross’ Latest Move Is a Head Scratcher

December 12th, 2012

(Photo: EPA/STEVE C.MITCHELL /LANDOV)

By Gee King

Rick Ross claimed John Gotti’s title “Teflon Don” after surviving an onslaught of attempts on his career from street legends, media members and fellow MCs alike. Beef with superstars 50 Cent and Young Jeezy couldn’t stop his ascension to the top of the rap game, nor could the revelation that he used to be a corrections officer. But yesterday’s announcement that Ross’ Maybach Music Group was moving to Atlantic Records, where rival Young Jeezy was recently named SVP of A&R, was construed by some as the L of all L’s for the man we’ve come to know as the Bawse.

This is not Nas signing with Def Jam while Jay-Z was acting president, but it does require some explaining on Ricky’s part. We’ve all been silently aware of the struggling state of the MMG ship since its promising 2011. With Ross and Meek’s 2012 releases failing to meet the critical and commercial hype created by the team’s psychotic marketing approach, it wasn’t surprising to hear that the powers that be at Warner Bros. wanted to rearrange things behind the curtain. We still don’t know the full details of the “merger” (sounds more like an acquisition) and it’s very likely that Jeezy’s duties may never interact with Ross or MMG, but complex facts lose to simple perception in the rap world. All it will take is one pushback for the game to start whispering that Jeezy is blackballing the Bawse.

When the waves are rushing the boat from all sides, the captain has to get on the mic and let the people know that everything is going to be alright. Rozay did just that on Miami’s 99 Jamz yesterday, posturing grander than ever on his home court and sounding like his ego wasn’t touched in the slightest by the unconfirmed words that have haunted him of late. He had a lot to speak on — rumors that gang members scared him into cancelling a show, the BET Hip Hop Awards altercations between his crew and 50 and Jeezy — and seemed as prepared as a politician to address everything. No press conference, this was a movie complete with previews, dramatic close-ups and quotables for days. “I’m a certified man and I am a real boss,” he barked. “Don’t get it twisted, Ricky Rozay is a boss.” He said it with so much poise and conviction it’s not hard to imagine him sampling his own words for an interlude on an upcoming tape.

“Gangstas move in silence,” he said in reference to the threats that allegedly shut down his tour. Ignoring the irony that it’s his job to speak loudly about gangsta s–t, we have to acknowledge the fact that he’s really just a rapper and to do anything more than take him at his word is to read into things too deeply. But when you feel his voice through the speakers and look at his eyes through his designer frames, it’s hard not to think that he really believes these words deep in his soul. Just like he believes he’s Big Meech, Larry Hoover and “Freeway” Ricky Ross. He believes that money, loyalty and family are what make you gangsta. And he’s proven over the past three years that, in this world, you are what you believe you are.

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