On the Cover: Rick Ross, Gangster of Love

Superbaked, supersized, superstar: How a husky high school football player became hip-hop's most lovable don

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Terry Richardson for RollingStone.com
Rick Ross on the cover of Rolling Stone.
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He's the William Howard Taft of the rap game, the guy T-Pain once called "Boss" 20 times in 11 seconds, the only man alive with a diamond-encrusted medallion of his own face: Rick Ross, whose latest album, God Forgives, I Don't, debuted atop the the charts to cement his star status. For the cover story of the new issue of Rolling Stone, which hits newsstands on Friday, August 17th, writer Josh Eells followed in Ross' considerable shadow as the rapper hustled from radio interviews to strip-club bashes in the buildup to the album release. Among the highlights:

Ross suggests that the seizures he suffered late last year were probably the result of smoking too much weed: "I'm most definitely an avid user, a pothead, however you want to look at it. I call it green caviar. It's like a short vacation – it helps me chill out. And people really love it when I chill out, because I can really be a dickhead."

For the first time, Ross talks about his past life as a corrections officer – an opportunity, he says, to "wash my hands" after his best friend was sentenced to 10 years for trafficking cocaine and heroin: "This was my best friend, who I ate peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches with, and pork and beans with, my buddy, my partner, my number-one dude. Suddenly I'm talking to him over federal phone calls. Hearing the way it was building, I knew I couldn't take nothing for granted," says Ross. "My homey's father was a huge influence on my life, too . . . He was the one who was like, 'Yo, go get a job somewhere, man. Go be a fireman. Or go be a fucking corrections officer. Just go sit down somewhere."

After he was suspended from elementary school for horseplay, Ross began attending a small Christian school: "They wanted me to learn the Ten Commandments. I told them I didn't really have time for that right now," recalls Ross, who eventually made his way back to public school and excelled as an offensive lineman in high school football. "I got through high school on my popularity and shit," Ross says. "But my grades was never good. I was never good at math." 

Ross was digusted by the recent theater shooting in Colorado ("Such a cowardly act"), but he's not in favor of gun control: "I think we all have a right to bear arms, whichever amendment that is." Even assault rifles? He shrugs. "I got 'em." 

Ross favors freedom of speech – all kinds: "Chick-fil-A obviously took their stand. That's their right – the same way the pro-gay people are taking their stand. I believe everybody got the right to live their own life the way they want to." So does that mean he'd support a Chick-fil-A boycott? "Naw. I love that spicy chicken."