Last year was a rough one for Rick Ross, who spent most of the summer and fall of 2015 under house arrest at his Atlanta mansion due to a pending case involving the alleged assault and kidnapping of a former groundskeeper. “I had a few stumbles, most definitely,” the rap superstar tells Rolling Stone. “Fortunately, it wasn’t the worst home to be confined in, you dig? But it wasn’t a vacation.” To avoid going stir-crazy, he spent much of that time writing songs for his eighth studio album, Black Market, which is full of rich production, multilayered boasts and, at times, a more reflective tone than usual. “I love the uptempo club music that’s going on right now, but I wanted to step away from that sound,” he says. “I made this album a little more soulful and sophisticated by adding live guitars and shit like that.”
One of the best songs on this album is called “Crocodile Python.” What does that even mean?
I recorded that on my first night back in the studio. When the beat came on, I rubbed my fingers together and imagined the texture: “Crocodile python, that’s what this material is.” I thought that was a dope-ass title.
There’s a song where you say you’ll “assassinate Trump like I’m Zimmerman.” What made you say that?
I would never advocate violence on Trump or anyone. It’s lyrical assassination. That’s me being a poet, putting words together in my art form, with no violence in my heart at all. Clarify that. Matter of fact, my cameraman was Trump’s caddy at his golf course for five years, and he says Trump is cool as fuck.
Right after that line, you say, “Now accept these words as if they came from Eminem.” Do you think he gets away with saying things that other rappers would get criticized for?
I think that’s a huge possibility. That’s why I said that line, so maybe this question would come up. But I’m not really into a white-black race card. Some of my best friends are white.
You remixed Adele’s “Hello.” Are you a big fan of hers?
I love Adele. When I see her, I may kiss Adele. She speaks for so many people. When I hear her voice, I stop and make that face and say, “What the fuck, man?” I just gaze off into the sky for a second and think creatively. Even someone like myself, who’s not working toward being the most beautiful voice in the world, has to recognize it. I’ve got a beat ready for her if I ever run across her.
Oh, yeah? I could imagine her singing on your next “Maybach Music” song.
Yeah. Me and the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, we’ll make it happen.
You’ve lost a lot of weight in the past few years. How do you keep it off?
I’ve lost maybe 70 or 75 pounds. I do my “RossFit” — that’s CrossFit mixed with a blunt or two. I still eat my Wingstop, but I got rid of a lot of the soda and the rice and all that nonsense.
Do you ever miss being “the biggest boss,” in terms of your physical size?
No, man [laughs]. I’ve still got my boss belly. I’ll always have that.
You’re friends with Cam Newton from the Carolina Panthers. Do you think you could make it in the NFL now that you’re in better shape?
I think I could. I’m the J.J. Watt of the rap game. Would I suggest you bet on me to win in the NFL? Of course not. But would I show up and kill some motherfuckers out there? Without a doubt.
You’ve got Darth Vader’s mask tattooed on your body. Safe to say you’re a big Star Wars fan?
Of course! I got an eight-inch Darth Vader on my left side, man! And my favorite car out of my entire collection is a ’57 Chevy that I named Vader. I had it totally restored.
How come he’s your favorite?
That’s the big homey! My father watched all the Star Trek and Star Wars that you could imagine, along with the martial arts. So I was into all that as a youngster, and I always rooted for the bad guy.
Meek Mill is signed to your label, and you’ve made a few songs with Drake. How did you feel when those two guys started going after each other on record last year?
You know, I didn’t like it, but I’ve seen worse. I’m glad they kept it relatively smooth. As a fan, I always enjoyed beef — not the loss of B.I.G. and Tupac, but the competition.
Your friend DJ Khaled recently got lost at sea on a Jet Ski after he dropped by your place in Miami. He documented the whole thing on Snapchat, and it was pretty dramatic. Were you worried about his safety?
I can’t fucking believe that guy. I live on an island, and it’s difficult to find. So I’m sitting there with three or four girls, waiting for my food, and I hear one of the chicks say, “You’ve got company.” I’m like, “What the fuck?” Because my home is gated and shit. So I look up, and I see DJ Khaled waving his arms! I walked out there in disbelief — I had to snatch my ankle monitor out of the wall where it was charging — and I invited him in and had my chef make him some food. I said, “I know you’re hungry, come on.” Then I had some shit I had to go do right up the street. By the time I came back, they told me Khaled left. It was fucking dark, and he wasn’t answering my calls. He got lost out there for, like, three hours! I told him, “Man, you’re fucking crazy.”
I read a news story about some guy who tried to give you his mixtape, and he ended up getting arrested for trespassing on your property. Do you have any advice for people who want to get your attention without going to jail?
Yo, when I got that news, I was like, “This guy has to be a clown or a weirdo.” Because that could have not been good in a lot of ways. Be a real hustler and make them come to you! If your passion for the music is burning that strong, take that energy — because it’s a good thing — and channel it the right way. I could have you jump off a bridge in a video or something.
What do you think hip-hop fans should do about the secret Wu-Tang Clan album whose sole copy was sold to disgraced pharmaceutical exec Martin Shkreli for $2 million?
I want that fucking album! I’m a Wu-Tang fan. If I gotta buy it back from RZA and bootleg it for the people, I’ll do it — just for me and the real Wu-Tang fans that still put “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit” in rotation when they want to pop shit.
Your old enemy 50 Cent made fun of your first-week album sales for this album. Does that even bother you anymore, or do you brush it off?
At this point, my relationship with Curtis is really amusing, due to the fact that I’m the biggest L he ever took. I’m still enjoying life. My kids love me. I’m blessed. And when it comes to Curtis, it’s just unfortunate. I’m not happy that his boxing company went under. I’m not happy that his clothing company went under. I’m not happy his record label went under. I’m not happy that he went bankrupt. I’m not happy that he doesn’t have a relationship with his son. That’s not something to be happy about. But to see him parading around, still able to hold his head up every day, with all of that weighing on him — that makes me happy. I admire him for being able to hold his head up in a city that has revoked all of his passes. We’ve had a quite enjoyable past, and I still smile when I see him.