In the epicenter of New York City, and on the corner of 31st and Madison Avenue, the Roger Williams Hotel comes into full view. Preparing for Hot 97's Annual Summer Jam, Rick Ross sits comfortably (and shirtless) towards the window of his hotel room. Scanning the room for a Bic lighter, he nonchalantly exposes a perfectly rolled blunt. Retrieving the lighter, he sets fire to the tip of his blunt. "I am going to deliver a masterpiece and nothing short of it," he says as the smoke exits his mouth. He sits back and nods his head after making the prophecy.
The masterpiece he speaks about is his highly anticipated sophomore LP, Trilla. As Ross adjusts his pillow and continues puffing on the blunt, he elaborates more about the record. "Maybach Music" featuring Jay-Z is expected to hit radio waves and inevitably to create a shift in the Billboard charts. Though Ross remains mum about most of the record, he reveals plans to hit the studio with Andre 3000 for an exclusive track. He has already recorded with an array of other guests including Beanie Siegel, Usher and Carol City Cartel Records' Triple C, and the list keeps growing. But Ross has set his goals high and Trilla should be keep listeners stimulated. As he puts it, "There's excitement and energy here."
For the past year and a half, that's exactly what Ross has done. After years of touring with in the Southeast, alongside his Slip-N-Slide family, he inked a distribution deal with Def Jam Records in 2006. Then, he released his street anthem "Hustlin'," which paved the way for his debut album, Port of Miami. Due to the popularity of "Hustlin'" and his second single "Push It," Port of Miami remained on the Billboard 200 for approximately 50 weeks and was certified gold. "This is a movement," he says as he continues focusing more on smoking his blunt than talking.
Ross is making moves in another industry as well. The same week Trilla will drop in stores, so will his documentary "M.I. Yayo," which he was the executive producer of. This film was inspired to highlight the ten ultimate hustlers of the streets of Miami-Dade County. "We're bringing you to the other side of the bridge," he explains. "Most of these dudes are serving life sentences, half served time, or dead. It's definitely a history lesson." (For exclusives: RickRoss.Vidshadow.com)
He's also trying to give back to the Carol City community he was raised in with launch of Rick Ross Charities Inc. The organization will provide educational, social and mentoring programs to hundreds of youth. Ross plans on holding events to help spread the attention, like on August 8th where he gave away school supplies and backpacks for students. In addition, scholarships will be awarded to deserving high school seniors planning to attend college.
Acknowledging the youth and community only proves that Rick Ross continues to stay humble and grounded. "I lived this. This is my life. I never gave up," Ross says. "I stayed positive, put God first, and balled in to take my opportunity to shine."
Rick Ross finishes his blunt and reaches for his cell phone. No longer determined to blow, but now making an impact in the industry that once took him for granted, Ross has drawn up the blue print and laid the foundation for Miami's next level.