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Rick Ross on Success, Summertime and Smoking

The Miami rap don talks about Basquiat, burning one for Michael Jackson and why he calls his Benz 'Bieber'

June 16, 2011 4:30 PM ET
 Rick Ross performs at the Wells Fargo Center March 26, 2011 in Philadelphia.
Rick Ross performs at the Wells Fargo Center March 26, 2011 in Philadelphia.
Bill McCay/WireImage

By the time this summer ends, Miami rap titan Rick Ross will have released a Top Five posse album (Maybach Music Group's lf Made Vol. 1, which hit the charts in June), spent 40 nights rocking arenas with Lil Wayne on his monster I Am Still Music Tour, and will have just released his fourth LP, God Forgives, I Don't — which will also likely be his fourth LP to hit Number One. "It's dark and vivid, like a Scorsese movie," Ross says of the disc, tentatively out in August. Ross, whose buddies call him Rozay (due to his fondness for pink champagne), is a major fan of the good life, with a fleet of luxury rides and a new chain that's one of the biggest in the game. "We have little chains that cost 20 to 25K," says Ross, checking in from his Miami studio. "I just got a new one made. It's in the six figures."

Wayne's parole stipulates no booze or drugs. Does that apply to everybody backstage? Yeah, and we respect his conditions. It's all good. You've always got before the show and after the show. So before you go into that venue, you have to have your mind right [laughs]. People may have speculated a certain amount of things would have gone wrong on the tour, but it's all been very smooth.

What's the secret to a successful hip-hop tour?
Less is more. Every other tour I've been on, the backstage party was as big as the concert itself, but on this one, due to Wayne's conditions and restrictions, there's less traffic backstage and more business being handled. I'll take that with me.

What's the craziest thing you've seen, looking into the audience?
I'd just done a 45-minute show and I took my shirt off and threw it into the audience. A woman caught it and she started wringing it out into her mouth...

I just threw up a little bit. What are your best summertime memories from growing up in Florida?
Chillin' with the homeys, going to the public pool and paying 15 cents to get in. You couldn't wear no nice sneakers, because when you came back to get 'em they'd be gone. That's how you knew if people were from out of town — they'd bring their nice Nikes and British Knights. They didn't know no better.

What's the last tattoo you got?
A portrait of [painter Jean-Michel] Basquiat on my thigh. I love his work, and I love his story, him being of Haitian descent, and me having so many people of Haitian descent in my camp and in my crew I grew up with.

In "Made Men," you rap, "Two-door Bugatti coupe/ I call it Katy Perry."
She's really sexy. I'd love to work with her. I nickname my cars. Most of the time it doesn't make any sense. One of my Benzes I call Justin Bieber. My Maybach is Oprah.

You called your 2008 album "Trilla" — did you ever meet Michael Jackson?
No, but what's crazy is, the day that he passed away, I was in L.A. I heard the news on the radio and I told my driver, "Yo, I know where his house is at, take me over there." By the time I got there, a crowd was already gathering. I rolled some of that PR 80 — L.A.'s finest — I cracked the window and I smoked one for the king.

Do you ever listen to rock & roll?
Not much. Except I just got the Black Keys, which is real cool. I smoked some to it.

What's the longest you've ever gone without getting stoned?
A flight to South Africa. Whatever that is, 12 or 14 hours.

Last year, your tour was called Blowin' Money Fast. What's the dumbest shit you've blown money on?
That PR 80, man. I bought so much of that it's crazy! And automobiles. Other than that, I'm good. I'm making my money make money.

Related: Photos: Lil Wayne's 'I Am Still Music Tour' Kickoff
Video: Kanye West Finally Releases 'Monster' Video

This story is from Rolling Stone issue 1134/1135, available on newsstands and through Rolling Stone All Access on June 24, 2011.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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