Almost 13 years to this day, Rick Ross, then a little-known Florida rapper with mafioso dreams and a hustler’s ambition, dropped his debut album, Port of Miami. Here was a hulking, unapologetic drug kingpin espousing bossisms via anthems like “Hustlin’” and “Blow.” “Who the f*ck you think you f*ckin’ with? I’m the f*ckin’ boss!” he proclaimed on the former. He said it with such conviction that it didn’t matter if you’d never heard of him before; you believed it.
Now, Ross’ rank isn’t even a question. Few can boast what he’s done: nine classic albums, more than a dozen platinum singles and his own hit record label, all without faltering. It’s only right that for his 10th studio album, Ross return to where it started.
Port of Miami 2, out August 9, promises to make you feel like Tony Montana puffing a Cuban on a yacht again. “It’s just that same energy, that ‘Everyday I’m hustlin’,’ energy,” the rapper says over the phone from Miami.
If recent singles “Gold Roses” and “Big Tyme” are any indication, the forthcoming LP will be a fitting sequel to Ross’ debut. Part of Ross’ gift is being able to stick to his unique, luxurious sound while simultaneously making it fresh. “As an artist, that’s the challenge we all gotta push ourselves to—to still be able to make classic records that you know [people] love, but also bring something new to the table,” says Ross, who hits Daylight Beach Club on August 1.
Ross is tight-lipped about what those new things will be, leaving fans wondering what, and whom, to expect. He did, however, confirm that the late Nipsey Hussle will make an appearance. The two have collaborated several times over the years. Ross even tried to sign Nip to his Maybach Music Group 10 years ago.
“Nipsey was just somebody that was a natural hustler, and I mean that in the most classy way,” he says. “When you look at his stores and how advanced he was and these young dudes he gave opportunities to—that sh*t was all just space age.”
It’s likely that Nipsey followed Ross’ hustle. For Ross, it’s always been deeper than rap. “I realized that being an entrepreneur was something that was naturally in me,” he says. “I put it in the rhymes, I put it in the verses. I kept hustling and I stayed down.”
That hustle has manifested in the form of his own record label, Maybach Music Group, which launched the careers of artists like Meek Mill and includes Las Vegas’ Yowda on its roster; a beard and hair product line called Rich; a partnership with Luc Belaire rosé; and a string of Wingstop and Checkers franchises. (He calls himself the “Lemon Pepper Don” and gives a “shout-out to the burgers” in our interview, adding that he’s “got something real dope in the sneaker world” in the works with Miami Heats great Dwyane Wade.)
But for all his business acumen, Ross makes it clear that rap isn’t a financial pursuit, it’s his passion. “I’m a hustler, but my music and my art isn’t a hustle. I put much more into it,” he says. “Anyone could make an album every month if they wanted to, but will you bring something to the table? Would you feed the culture like me? I doubt it.”
ECLIPSE WITH RICK ROSS August 1, 10 p.m., $20-$30. Daylight Beach Club, 702-632-4700.