William Leonard Roberts II was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and raised in Carol City, Florida. After graduating from Miami Carol City Senior High School, he attended the historically black college Albany State University on a football scholarship. Roberts worked as a correctional officer for 18 months from December 1995, until his resignation in June 1997.
In his early years at Suave House Records, Roberts initially made his debut under the pseudonym Teflon Da Don. He made his recording debut on the song "Ain't Shhh to Discuss" on Erick Sermon's lone album for DreamWorks, Def Squad Presents Erick Onasis. In the mid-2000s, he changed his name to Rick Ross. He derived his stage name from the former drug kingpin "Freeway" Rick Ross, to whom he has no connection.
After being signed to Suave House Records, former label for rap duo 8Ball & MJG, he eventually signed a deal with Slip-n-Slide Records, which has been under the Def Jam umbrella since 2006. While signed to Slip-n-Slide, Roberts toured with fellow rapper Trick Daddy and made guest performances on other Slip-n-Slide albums.
His debut album Port of Miami was released in August 2006 and debuted at the top spot on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart, with sales at 187,000 units during the first week. Christian Hoard of Rolling Stone magazine predicted that it would be "the summer's biggest rap record". The second single was "Push It", which samples "Scarface (Push It to the Limit)", the theme song from the gangster film Scarface. The music video for "Push It" was modeled after the film. During that time, Ross made guest performances on two singles from DJ Khaled's debut Listennn... the Album: "Born-N-Raised" and "Holla at Me". Port of Miami received Gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America on November 8, 2006.
In March 2008, his second album Trilla was released and, as its predecessor Port of Miami had, debuted at the top of the Billboard 200. Its lead single "Speedin'" featuring R. Kelly peaked at number 21 on the U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles; the next one, "The Boss" featuring T-Pain peaked at number 17 on the Hot 100. The third single "Here I Am" featured Nelly and Avery Storm. MTV News ranked Ross on the fourth spot in its 2008 "Hottest MCs in the Game" list among ten rappers. The fourth single "This Is The Life" featured Trey Songz and was released in July.
I look at the game and the business and all different aspects, it's a lot of great lyricists on the corner that will never properly understand the business and know how to market themselves and get in a position where they can gain capital. I look at all the strategies people use and what made them successful. What made Birdman just as relevant today after selling 50 million records? That intrigues me. To see the class of Jay-Z, his accomplishments and see how he sits backs and accurately makes his moves.
A track from the album called "Valley of Death" was what stood out to MTV reporters. In the song, Ross speaks briefly on his controversial stint as a prison guard. "Keep it trilla, nigga, never had a gun and badge," which he stresses, leaving the word that he was indeed an officer of the law. "Kept a nice watch, smoking on a hundred sack/ Back in the day I sold crack for some nice kicks/ Skippin' school, I saw my friend stabbed with an ice pick/ Can't criticize niggas trying to get jobs/ Better get smart, young brother, live yours." Later, he implies that while he was working as a corrections officer, he was on the streets. "Only lived once and I got two kids/ And for me to feed them, I'll get two gigs," he raps. "I'll shovel shit, I'll C.O./ So we can bow our heads and pray over the meatloaf." Although, he still provided no explanation for lying about being a C.O. to begin with, nor did he explain why he failed to pay child support for his children.
The cover of the May 2009 issue of XXL magazine, titled "Rick Ross Up in Smoke", featured Ross wearing a pair of Louis Vuitton sunglasses. After publication, a spokesperson for the luxury-goods maker contacted XXL to inform them that Ross was sporting fake sunglasses in the cover image. It was later revealed that the rapper was wearing authentic Louis Vuitton sunglasses which were altered by Jacob Bernstein, known as "The Sunglass Pimp". Bernstein defended his customizations despite Louis Vuitton's insistence that such modification and resale of trademarked property is not legal.
Rick Ross released his fourth studio album entitled Teflon Don, which was released on July 6, 2010. The lead single is "Super High" featuring Ne-Yo. Actress Stacey Dash made an appearance in the music video. A second official single was released titled "Live Fast, Die Young" which features and is produced by Kanye West. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 selling 176,000 copies in its first week.
In November 2010, rapper and frequent collaborator, Diddy, who in 2009 signed Ross to a management deal with his Ciroc Entertainment, announced from his YouTube account, that he and Ross are working on an EP together, and announced that it would likely be released in 2011. A single has been released for the project, called "Another One".
Rick Ross performed at BET Awards 2011, which aired on June 26, 2011. He also received a nomination for Best Male Hip Hop Artist. In early 2012, Ross was named the Hottest MC in the Game.
Ross' fifth studio album, God Forgives, I Don't, was originally scheduled to be released on December 13, 2011, though it was later delayed to July 31, 2012. He premiered two singles from the album, "You the Boss" and "I Love My Bitches", though they were not featured on the official tracklisting. Upon its release, the album charted at number eight on the UK Albums Chart and number two on the UK R&B Albums Chart, making it Ross's highest-charting album and first top 10 album in the United Kingdom. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 218,000 copies. Ross premiered four songs: "So Sophisticated" featuring Meek Mill, "Touch'N You" featuring Usher, "Hold Me Back", and "3 Kings" featuring Dr. Dre and Jay-Z. Rick Ross was nominated by The Source as its "Man of the Year".
On January 7, 2013, he revealed the title of his sixth album to be Mastermind. The album was set to be released in 2013. The first promotional single from the album would come in the form of "Box Chevy" which was released to iTunes on February 15, 2013. The music video was filmed on April 1, 2013 and features cameos from MMG members Gunplay, Stalley and Rockie Fresh.
During 2008, it was announced that Ross was set to release a collaboration album with his longtime friend Birdman titled The H, but after that, no information on the album was released. On May 16, 2013, Birdman and Rick Ross announced that The H would be released as a mixtape hosted by DJ Khaled on May 23, 2013. The project was recorded during a couple of days in 2008.
On September 5, 2013, Ross premiered the first official single from Mastermind, "No Games" featuring Future produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League. The following day, it was released to Urban contemporary radio. It was followed by the singles "The Devil Is A Lie" with Jay-Z and "War Ready" with Jeezy.
Rick Ross released his sixth studio album, Mastermind, in March 2014, the album received generally positive reviews from critics and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart with first week sales of 179,000 copies. As of April 8, 2014, the album has sold over 290,000 copies in the United States. In June 2014, it was announced that Ross would make a guest appearance on the docu-series Sisterhood of Hip Hop. In October 2014, Ross announced he is releasing another album, Hood Billionaire, with features from Jay-Z and R. Kelly among others.
Rick Ross revealed cover art for Hood Billionaire in October 2014 and announced the release date to be set for November 24, 2014. About a year later, he released another album titled, Black Market.
Rick Ross is a Christian, and in an interview with Corey "Coco Brother" Condrey on Lift Every Voice, he indicated that "I had told myself at one point no matter what I go through, I never question God." In addition, Ross indicated that he prays every time he goes on stage to perform.
In July 2008, The Smoking Gun produced details linking Ross' social security number to an 18-month stint as a correctional officer at the South Florida Reception Center, along with a photograph first publicized by Media Take Out purporting to be Ross in his correctional officer uniform. Ross initially denied that the photograph was of him, but after overwhelming evidence of his past came into the public's eye, Ross later admitted that he did work as a correctional officer in Florida during the early 1990s. In a 2008 interview with AllHipHop.com, "Freeway" Ricky Ross claimed offense that Roberts used his name and identity when he learned that The Smoking Gun posted documents revealing Roberts' previous employment as a Florida correctional officer.
On October 14, 2011, Ross suffered two seizures in the same day, once in the morning and again in the early evening. Following the morning seizure, he was unconscious and CPR was performed. After suffering the second seizure, Ross was admitted to hospital in Birmingham, where doctors ran a battery of tests, declaring him healthy. Ross attributes the episode to a lack of sleep in the previous week. Ross later mentioned the incident in the remix of Meek Mill's song Ima Boss, with the line "Had a couple seizures, call it minor setbacks / Everybody praying for me, I respect that / Woke up in the hospital, where my checks at? / Then I put 8 chains where my neck’s at".
On January 27, 2013, while celebrating his 37th birthday, Ross and his girlfriend were the targets of a drive-by shooting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Neither Ross nor his girlfriend were hurt, but they ended up crashing their car into an apartment in an attempt to escape the shooting.
In January 2008, Ross was arrested on gun and marijuana charges. During a deposition of Officer Rey Hernandez, a Miami Beach cop who arrested Ross, Ross's lawyer, Allan Zamren, asked Hernandez why Ross's case was assigned to the gang task force. The officer stated that it was because Ross claimed affiliation with Carol City Cartel and other known gang members. Zamren then pressed Hernandez for a personal link between Ross and the gang members, but ultimately one could not be established.
In August 2008, YouTube entertainer DJ Vlad filed a lawsuit against Ross for assault and battery. Vlad claimed Ross organized an ambush on him at the 2008 Ozone Awards in Houston, Texas for asking questions about his past as a correctional officer. On June 18, 2010, "Freeway" Ricky Ross sued Rick Ross for using his name, filing a copyright infringement lawsuit in a California Federal Court. Jay-Z had been called to testify in the lawsuit, as he was CEO of Def Jam when Ross/Roberts was signed. The reformed drug kingpin was looking for 10 million dollars in the lawsuit. Also, the release of his album, Teflon Don, was threatened to be blocked by Freeway Ricky Ross. A week after the filing of the lawsuit, Rick Ross responded to the charges: "It's like owning a restaurant, you're gonna have a few slip and falls. You get lawsuits, you deal with them, and get them out your way…sometimes you lose." He then denied rumors that he would change his name to "Ricky Rozay" as a consequence of the lawsuit. The lawsuit was thrown out of court on July 3, 2010 and his album, Teflon Don, was released on July 20 as scheduled. In 2011 the rapper Teflon Don filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Ross for the use of the name as an album title.
On March 26, 2011, Ross was arrested in Shreveport for possession of marijuana. According to the police records, a strong odor of marijuana was detected from his room at the Hilton in Downtown Shreveport.
On June 24, 2015 Rick Ross and his bodyguard were arrested in Fayette County, Georgia for kidnapping and assault charges. Both were accused for forcing a man into a guesthouse and beating him in the head with a handgun.
In January 2009, Ross started a feud with rapper 50 Cent because he supposedly looked at him the wrong way at the BET Awards. 50 Cent told news sources that he did not remember seeing Ross there. In late January, "Mafia Music", by Ross, leaked onto the Internet. There were several lines that seemed to diss 50 Cent. Days later, 50 Cent released "Officer Ricky (Go Head, Try Me)" in response to Ross's disparaging remarks on his "Mafia Music" song.
Before going to Venezuela, 50 Cent uploaded a video entitled "Warning Shot", wherein he stated: "Rick Ross- I'mma fuck your life up for fun." In addition, 50 Cent released the first of a series of "Officer Ricky" cartoons. Early in February, 50 Cent once again made a video which he uploaded to YouTube in which he interviewed "Tia", the mother of one of Ross's children. She verifies that he was a correctional officer and claims his whole persona is fake and fraudulent. On February 5, 2009, The Game, who 50 Cent has a long-standing "beef" with, called up Seattle R&B station KUBE. When asked about the beef between 50 Cent and Ross, Game sided with 50 Cent and said that things are not looking good for Ross. He offered to help, stating, "Rick Ross, holla at your boy, man," and, "50 eating you, boy." On his album Deeper Than Rap, Ross references 50 Cent in the song "In Cold Blood". A video for the song was released that portrayed 50 Cent's mock funeral. Upon release, Ross stated that he has ended 50 Cent's career. That same day Ross released a new diss track called "Push 'Em Over The Edge". The next day 50 Cent released the controversial video "A Psychic Told Me", dissing DJ Khaled. On February 12, 50 Cent responded with "Tia Told Me", along with Lloyd Banks' response "Officer Down" and Tony Yayo's "Somebody Snitched".
In an interview, 50 Cent said Ross is "Albert From CB4. You ever seen the movie? He's Albert," he added. "It never gets worse than this. You get a guy that was a correctional officer come out and base his entire career on writing material from a drug dealer's perspective."
On January 30, 2013, 50 Cent claimed via Twitter that the drive-by shooting that Ross experienced on his birthday two days ago was "staged", reigniting the feud.
A year later, on March 28, 2014, Rick Ross was asked about his feud with 50 Cent. He stated that he doesn't wish to speak on him anymore, and that he's done with the feud.
In a line on rapper Rocko's song "U.O.E.N.O.", Rick Ross raps the line, "Put molly all in her champagne/ She ain't even know it/ I took her home and I enjoyed that/ She ain't even know it." A petition containing 72,000 signatures was presented to Reebok, demanding they drop Ross as a spokesman for the lyrics which appeared to condone date rape. Ross has apologized for the lyrics, claiming they weren't about rape. He was dropped by Reebok on April 11, 2013. A Ross concert organized by the student association of Carleton University was cancelled after protests that his lyrics promote "rape culture". Rocko later dropped the Rick Ross verse in order to get radio play.Port of Miami (2006)
Deeper Than Rap (2009)
Teflon Don (2010)
God Forgives, I Don't (2012)
Hood Billionaire (2014)
Black Market (2015)
The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States. Rick Ross has four nominations.