It’s been hard to miss Rick Ross lately, and not only because of the rap star’s hulking 300-pound frame.
One person who’d surely agree would be Jay-Z. Once Ross’s underground anthem “Hustlin” turned into a street smash, Jay-Z began a hunt for the Miami-bred rapper that sparked a bidding frenzy between Def Jam, Bad Boy and Irv Gotti’s label The Inc. Subsequent to Ross’s linking with Def Jam, label president Jay-Z frequently said that he was making Ross his “top priority,” and, clearly, he did.
“Hustlin’” peaked at No. 7 on Billboard’s rap chart and hit No. 54 on the Hot 100. Before his Port of Miami album was released last August, “Hustlin’” had one million ringtone units, all but certifying that Def Jam’s attempt to make Rick Ross “large” paid off big.
Born William Roberts, Ross grew up in Carol City, Fla., a bleak Miami suburb. He began rapping in the mid 1990s and started a group, Carol City Cartel. Ross takes his name from Los Angeles kingpin Ricky Ross, who ran a large drug distribution network in the 1980s and early 1990s. Ross the rapper alludes often to Miami’s position as a hub for international drug smuggling, and his rhymes often reflect the city’s dark underbelly.
Although Ross is no doubt glad to have left the mean streets of Miami, he hasn’t forgotten his roots: In December of 2006, he launched Rick Ross Charities, a group that seeks to provide youth with educational and social enhancement opportunities.