Rick Ross

Rick Ross was an American musician who dominated hip-hop throughout the early 21st century, taking on a larger-than-life persona befitting his hulking frame, that of an unstoppable drug kingpin spinning yarns of crime over booming beats, and topped off with the finest fashions. While the truth was not quite as extravagant as his persona, and controversy and bad luck often seemed to undercut his successes, it is undeniable that Rick Ross was an integral part of the rap landscape. Born William Leonard Roberts II on January 28, 1976 in Clarkdale, MS, Ross was raised in Carol City, FL. Following graduation from Miami Carol City Senior High School, Ross attended Albany State University, a historically black college, on a football scholarship. After college, Ross worked as a correctional officer from December of 1995 until June of 1997. During this time, he also began making music, first under the name Teflon Da Don, the name he used while recording with local label Suave House records, before officially taking on the moniker Rick Ross, after notorious drug kingpin "Freeway" Ricky Ross, in the mid-2000s. Soon thereafter, he signed to Slip-n-Slide Records, a subsidiary of Def Jam, and toured with Southern rap legend Trick Daddy. Ross's debut album, "Port of Miami" (2006) was released in the summer of 2006. It gained some positive notices from critics, debuted atop the Billboard 200, and eventually was certified gold. Ross repeated those figures with his sophomore effort, "Trilla" (2008), and was listed number four in MTV News's list of "Hottest MCs in the Game" for 2008. Despite some controversy that came when photographic and documentary evidence of Ross's stint as a corrections officer lead many to decry him as a poser, he just kept working, quickly following up "Trilla" with "Deeper Than Rap" (2009), his first album to be released through his soon-to-be ubiquitous boutique label, Maybach Music Group. In hindsight, it would be the beginning of Rick Ross's imperial phase. 2010 saw the release of "Teflon Don" (2010), as well as two highly acclaimed mixtapes, "Albert Anastasia" (2010), and "Ashes to Ashes" (2010). The following year, Ross signed Wale and Meek Mill, two highly acclaimed underground MCs, to Maybach Music, before releasing the label's first compilation record, "Self Made Vol. 1" (2011). Though the year ended poorly, with Ross suffering two seizures in the same day on October 14, 2011 (which he later attributed to lack of sleep), 2012 was a banner year. Ross released two of his most acclaimed works: the mixtape "Rich Forever" (2012), and his highly anticipated fifth album, "God Forgives, I Don't" (2012), as well as the second Maybach Music compilation, "Self Made Vol. 2" (2012). Ross ended the year by being named "Hottest MC in the Game" by MTV News, and being nominated for Man of the Year by The Source. To celebrate, he released yet another mixtape, "The Black Bar Mitzvah" (2012). Shortly after revealing that his next album would be called "Mastermind" (2014), Ross and his girlfriend survived a drive-by shooting attempt on his life during his 37th birthday party on January 27, 2013. After numerous delays, "Mastermind" was finally released in March of 2014 to positive reviews and strong sales. However, this would prove to be the end of Rick Ross as an untouchable deity. He soon found himself embroiled in controversy over misogynistic lyrics, which lost him an endorsement deal with Reebok, and a legal battle with the real life "Freeway" Ricky Ross over the use of his name, which reignited the debate over his corrections officer past. That October, when he surprise released his seventh album, "Hood Billionaire" (2014), critics and fans responded with a resounding shrug. 2015 would prove to be no better for Ross, as he was convicted on kidnapping and assault charges, and spent most of the year confined to his Georgia home under house arrest. That December saw the release of his eighth album, "Black Market" (2015), which would prove to be his final project for Def Jam. In January of 2016, Ross signed a deal with Epic Records, and released his ninth album, "Rather You Than Me" (2017) in March of the following year. In 2018, Ross suffered a massive heart attack at his Miami home, and spent a few days on life support. Perhaps reflecting on his legacy, Ross returned to where it all started for his tenth album, "Port of Miami 2" (2019).