It’s been more than five years since Rick Ross launched his Maybach Music Group label in 2009 and Rozay has grown his empire exponentially since. But 2015 is set to be a statement year for the imprint, particularly with albums from two of his MMG soldiers, Meek Mill and Wale, due to make waves. For Meek, his sophomore album Dreams Worth More Than Money is a chance to deliver his patented street tales to an audience that has been crying out for a new project since a five-month jail bid for a probation violation last year pushed it back from a September release. And Wale is seeking a return to his roots, with his fourth LP The Album About Nothing a continuation of his early career Seinfeld-themed mixtape series.
That sets Ross up to step even further into The Bawse persona he’s carefully crafted over the years. After releasing two albums in 2014, March’s Mastermind and Hood Billionaire in November, Rozay has lost over 85 pounds via a training regimen he calls RossFit, while he continues to evolve as both an artist and an executive. With a past year full of music under his smaller belt and some major projects coming down the pipeline, Rick Ross isn’t even thinking of slowing down. Not while there’s still so much fun to be had.
XXL: You started losing weight after you had two seizures four years ago. Did that scare you?
Rick Ross: It just lets you know that death is that much closer. It’s like being in a dark room, you can’t see nothin’ and you got your hands out. You know that muthafu*ka out there, though. So when you wake up from being unconscious, it’s real. Like, Yo, I gotta get on my sh*t. When the doctor heard my sleeping patterns he was like, You could die from that. So I just needed to start doing different things.
How much have you lost?
I’m not even sure; I haven’t weighed myself in the last month because I’m not even really focused on the numbers or the amount I lose. I was really just focused on the blood pressure and all the other sh*t that go around that. But everything’s been cool so I haven’t really been going too crazy. Still RossFit.
Has it given you a different outlook on anything?
I mean, the bi*ches love me, you know what I’m sayin’? Yeah.
Meek Mill is gearing up for the release of his second album. What do you think it is about Meek that draws people to him?
He represents the struggle of the Black male. When Meek makes his music, the streets connect on so many different levels; they know it’s real, they know it’s authentic, they know Meek giving them the truth. From being that young nigga with the nappy braids battlin’ niggas on the corner to being the hottest nigga in the streets. The streets gonna give him the keys, the streets gonna give him the crown. Got the baddest bi*ch in the game on his shoulder.
I think at this point he realizes that this album is the one that he wanted to make, that one. And so the way I’m watching him record, it’s not about a lot of records, representing Philly, this and that. It’s about these records with purpose, these records with concepts, these records with that wordplay.
What changed for Meek after he got out of jail last December?
He lost seven figures off the road, he was away from his family, his son. But Meek took it like a soldier; every time I went to see him, he was focused. He only spoke about things he could control. And that gave me a whole new respect for the homie, on some G sh*t. And when he came home he wanted to give, not only to his fans who wrote him so many fu*kin’ letters that they thought it was mail fraud coming through, but the niggas that he was in there locked up with, messages to the fans from them. He got a lot of people that he feedin’ now; he has his own label, Dream Chasers. And before, when niggas was catchin’ cases, niggas kept movin’. But he seen for the first time that when he got locked up he saw the ripple effect and what he really meant out in these streets.
What sets the new Wale album apart?
As an artist you find at different times you want to do different things. And Wale, he consistently make his sh*t fly. This intelligent, fly good music right here that real Gs fu*k with. And it’s just intelligent with the wordplay. It’s just some dope sh*t. Wale finna do it bigger than ever.
How would you compare your style as a boss to someone like a Birdman or a Jay Z or a Diddy?
I’m even a bigger threat than them. Because all the genius moves they’ve been able to pull off I’ve been able to watch and study from the sideline. I got to see some of these dudes make the biggest electronics deals, the biggest lifestyle deals, the clothing brands, whatever it may be, I got to see that before it was actually my time and I got to prepare and do what bosses do. Plot, big time. Remain war ready. And I think right now we in a position where in two or three years there won’t even be a doubt who the powerhouse is in this game.
Looking back, how do you feel about releasing two albums in one year?
Oh man, I loved it. We did sh*t a lot of muthafu*kas ain’t seen in so long. Not to mention Meek had just caught his case and I felt like, Who else could do this but Rozay? Put a project together just for the streets and an entirely different vibe than what I’d just released seven months prior.
Have you ever thought about retirement?
Long as I’m havin’ fun. Long as the energy remains where it is, man, Ricky Rozay The Bawse gonna shine like the moon itself.