ARTIST PROFILE

Rick Ross

Name: William Leonard Roberts II

Birthday: January 28, 1976

Fav Dish: Lobster Bisque

Rick Ross is an American rapper who created the Mabach Music record label and gained popularity with songs about controversial topics like drug dealing.

Born on January 28, 1976, in Coahoma County, Mississippi, Rick Ross was influenced by rappers such as Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. He blasted onto the music scene when his debut single, “Hustlin’,” became something of a street anthem. The popularity of the song powered his 2006 debut album Port of Miami, which opened at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Albums Chart. Ross went on to release three more albums at the top of the charts, during a career peppered with controversy and issues with the law.

Early Life

Rapper Rick Ross was born William Leonard Roberts II in Coahoma County, Mississippi, on January 28, 1976. Raised in Carol City, Florida—an impoverished area of north of Miami—Ross always gravitated to the music of street-oriented rappers like Notorious B.I.G., Luther Campbell, Ice Cube and Tupac Shakur. Although he attended Georgia’s Albany State University on a football scholarship for a year, Ross started writing rap lyrics romanticizing the money gained from dealing drugs, an act that he saw as a child.

He lifted his performing name, Rick Ross, from hearing stories of a drug trafficker named “Freeway” Rick Ross. Ironically, Ross worked as a corrections officer in Florida for almost two years, but the lure of hip-hop music and the lavish lifestyle of the drug dealers he saw throughout his youth led him in another direction. He was eventually signed to a southern independent rap label, Suave House Records, which also released music by popular underground rap duo 8Ball & MJG. Ross later signed a contract with Miami-based record label Slip-N-Slide, which released music by hip-hop favorites like Trick Daddy—whom Ross would later tour with—and female rapper Trina.

Rap Career

The first single from Ross, “Hustlin’,” became a smash hit, due to the hypnotic line “Every day I’m hustling” repeated throughout the song. The single was eventually certified gold, an impressive feat for a brand new recording artist. The song sparked a bidding war between multiple rap labels looking for their next superstar. Def Jam Records, headed by executive Jay-Z, won the battle, signing Ross to a highly publicized record deal.

Ross debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Albums Chart with his premiere album, Port of Miami, in 2006. His sophomore album, Trilla (2008)—named as a tribute to his idol Michael Jackson’s popular album Thriller (1982)—also debuted at No. 1. With his success, Ross became more of a presence on the tour circuit and in the press. He began to write, perform and collaborate with a wide range of popular acts including Jay-Z, R. Kelly, Flo-Rida, Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy and several others.

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