“Side Hustle” is a recurring column in which staff writer Charles Holmes reviews celebrity and celebrity-adjacent products. You can read his previous entry, on Ariana Grande’s Cloud Machiatto from Starbucks, here.
Celebrity: Rick Ross
Product: Rich By Rick Ross
Who’s This For: Bosses
I have a lot to tell you about Rich by Rick Ross, the new hair care and grooming line from Rick Ross. Rich encompasses a staggering amount of products, including, but not limited to, luxury beard oil, shaving cream, aftershave balm, shampoo, conditioner, body & hair wash, pomade, styling gel and wax products. In its marketing, it promises to provide “The Boss Experience;” to do so, its products contain champagne extract, caviar extract, hemp seed oil and kona coffee — not surprising, as Ross has a Joycean eye for detail when rapping about opulence. According to Ross, he’s always getting asked what he uses to keep his robust beard “so fly” and decided to deliver hair and grooming products “at a price that won’t knock your hustle.”
As with all celebrity products, Rich ignited a fierce curiosity in me. The beard oil makes straightforward sense — Rick Ross is near the top of rap’s beard power rankings — but why would Rick Ross need a signature pomade if he rarely grows his hair longer than a fade? Champagne and caviar make for compelling website copy, but what, exactly, do they smell like? Do they smell differently when mixed together and turned into a soap? Most importantly: If I smell like Rick Ross, will my life improve? I certainly hope so. I need a change. Please.
For the next week, I dedicate myself to the Rich lifestyle. Each day, I will use at least one Rich product in the pursuit of my gnawing questions and the promise that beauty products can transform music’s lowliest staff writer into America’s next boss. I suspect, but want to prove, that smelling rich will translate to real-world wealth. Let’s get Rich.
I step into the shower, nervous. I’m playing Rick Ross’s 2010 album, Teflon Don — his best — in order to enhance the “Boss Experience.” I tear away the foil tops on the body & hair wash, shampoo and conditioner. The conditioner smells pungent, but not unpleasant, and surprisingly, the smell of both the body wash and shampoo is subtle, even mature. It’s so subtle, in fact, that I can’t smell the body wash that well, and decide that I need to use more. I douse my physique in richness. I have made my first mistake, though I won’t realize it for a few hours.
Once out of the shower, I squirt the beard oil directly on my face. Instantly, I realize I have made another mistake (For those counting, this is my second mistake in about a four-minute span. Naively, though, I believe it’s my first). I do not, it turns out, know how to use beard oil. I’ve applied far too much, making my face feel like an oil spill — of luxury. Luckily, my beard now smells fantastic. I have no regrets. Before I leave the apartment, I ask my cat, Sushi, for his opinion. He’s purring and rubbing his head against my newly scented hand. Sushi is pleased. Just as quickly, he bites me. I’m left unclear whether it’s because he hates the scent, or loves it too much.
I arrive at work late due, in no small part, for the amount of time I spent in the shower. Elias (another Rolling Stone staff writer and my best work buddy) doesn’t notice a difference — or, if he does, he gives me no indication. Furious, I do a masculine twirl in front of his desk to see if he’ll pick up on anything different, like my smell or the lustrous sheen in my beard, or how I’m carrying myself more confidently than just one day before. He doesn’t. Consider my friendship with Elias officially over. By noon, I begin to realize I used too many products this morning. The subtle champagne, caviar, hemp and coffee notes become bolder over time, building throughout the day and creating an impenetrable aromatic cloud. It follows me. Apparently, wealth achieved through beauty has a price.
Am I Rich Yet? No.
Excitement got the better of me yesterday. Today, instead of lathering myself in as many Rich by Rick Ross products as possible, I decide to test out each one methodically. A lush, fragrant and authoritative beard is my white whale for this week. Under normal circumstances, my beard is prickly, dry and unruly. It may be unfair to think that Ross’s beard oil can change this, but an enterprising young rap writer can have hope.
This time I squirt the beard oil into my palm — I may make mistakes, but I learn from them. From there I massage the slick, amber liquid into my beard. I receive one compliment today, after detailing the myriad benefits of Rich by Rick Ross to poor souls who had not asked me to do so. Apparently, part of people knowing you’re using rich people products is an incessant need to document and extoll said products. I work a late night on Friday night (I was Rock and Roll Hall of Fame duty with my colleagues), and by the time I leave my editor’s apartment around 1 am, the only thing that isn’t tired is my nascent, boss-like beard.
Am I Rich Yet? Still a broke boi.
It’s Saturday. My social anxiety is at an all-time high, and the residual excitement from the first few days of my newfound project has dissipated. I lock myself in my apartment. I’m not a barbarian, so even though I’m not planning on leaving today, I take a shower with the Rich by Rick Ross Body and Hair Wash. After, I get dressed in my work clothes and crawl back into bed.
Sushi will be the only living organism experiencing the new me today. He climbs onto the mattress and falls asleep. We go a full day with no biting. He’s enjoying my new smells or, at the very least, is feeling neutral about them. It’s tough to tell with cats. After the nap, the Rich scent is gone. In its wake, only sweat remain. I take a second shower and get right back in bed. I wonder how Rick Ross’ day was.
Am I Rich Yet? If naps were currency, I’m Jeff Bezos.
After my morning shower, I leave the house armed with an unfamiliar sensation: financial stability. I’m going to let the motivational text on the shower gel bottle be my guide for the day, and live like a boss. The fumes of body wash shield me from my default approach to self-preservation and mature money management. To celebrate, I decide to blow a check at Barnes & Noble. As soon as I get there, I set my eyes on the latest volume of My Hero Academia — Midoriya goes “One For All: Full Cowl – 100%” in this one — then I get nervous. The body wash has betrayed me. Instead of buying the $9.99 book, I put it back and start pacing between the comic book and manga aisles, slowly coming to the realization that I won’t be buying any new Japanese graphic novels. Defeated, I end up at Trader Joe’s, and blow far less than a check on food for the week. A woman asks if she can sneak behind me in the infinite line that wraps around the entirety of this grocery hellscape. I envy her boldness.
Bosses don’t shop at Trader Joe’s. Rick Ross would be ashamed.
Am I Rich Yet? If Trader Joe’s pop-tarts were legal tender then absolutely, yes.
The beard oil is working wonders. It’s meant for my beard, but it’s giving my soul with an odd sense of warmth. Between the body wash and the oil, I can sense a transformation. I’m becoming a different man. It isn’t until a one-on-one meeting at work that I realize that, maybe, the wealth I’ve been searching for all week was never meant to be monetary. The scent of Rich by Rick Ross pays its user in a far more critical currency: Self-confidence.
Am I Rich Yet? I’m starting to feel a tingling sensation.
My scalp is in dire straits this morning. Unkempt and a little itchy, it’s something I would usually not worry too deeply — I wear a hat for most of my day — but in the shower, I reach for the Rich by Rick Ross conditioner and hope for a lot, but expect very little. The silvery liquid does a respectful job and, to be fair, I gave it a hefty task for a mogul’s first beauty line.
From there, I reach for the beard oil. That beautiful bottle has yet to betray me. By the end of the day, I’m standing in the elements at the edge of Central Park, talking to one of New York’s most noteworthy bird experts (for a project and for fun). The cold wind thinks it can dry out my face follicles, but wealth has a way of shielding one from even the harshest of elements. I return to discussing the sexual prowess of mallards, confident in my beard’s ability to stay appropriately moisturized.
Am I Rich Yet? In bird knowledge, I’d be considered a billionaire.
In celebration of my final day with Rick Ross and his various tinctures, I decide to get wild. I finally open the styling gel. Saying I don’t know what I’m doing would be an understatement — I never style my hair. For a couple seconds, I stare at the quarter-sized drop of gel in my hand before bringing it to my head. Sushi looks at me; I think he might be disgusted. I look in a mirror. I didn’t do this right.
I opt to throw on a hat for the rest of the day, and reflect on my week spent pursuing an often abstract conception of wealth. The passing of each hour brings a bittersweet jolt of pain. I spent seven days of my life searching for happiness, fulfillment and riches at the bottom of a beauty product bottle. Now that it’s almost over, I don’t feel great. The weight of capitalism is still bearing down on my shoulders. The constant anxiety about my future in modern American media is still there. I am still not rich.
Then, I smell my beard. It’s delightful.
Conclusion: If Rich by Rick Ross is how the real Rick Ross smells, then I think Rick Ross smells amazing. The beard oil and I built a friendship that may last a lifetime (or, at the very least, I learned that I should be using beard oil). If you’re beard isn’t luscious and your metaphorical pockets aren’t full, don’t talk to me, brokie.