THE POWER OF ONE MAN
RICK ROSS IS THE CENTER OF THE MMG UNIVERSE. RAPPER BY RAPPER, SINGER BY SINGER, THE CEO IS ROUNDING OUT A ROSTER THAT WILL DEFINE HIS LEGACY IN HIP-HOP. AND IF ANY OF HIS SQUAD SURPASSES HIM? WELL, THAT’S THE BIG IDEA -—Written By John Kennedy Photos By Armen Djerrahian
IN ROOM 2323 OF Times Square’s Inter-Continental Hotel, Wale is venting a fit. His arms are flailing and dreads are shaking as he stands over his king-size bed wearing near-white socks and 10.Deep camo pants that are hanging on for dear life. It’s supposed to be an evening off for the sports obsessed MC to unwind and watch basketball’s top prospects find their spaceship at the NBA Draft, yet it’s hip-hop’s rookie class that has him on the defense.
“Our genre prides itself so much on finding new shit that we don’t appreciate nothing no more,” Wale proclaims. “They’re so busy telling niggas that they’re not great or not future legends, that they anoint niggas that haven’t done nothing! I’m not taking nothing away from Chief Keef, but they just jumped so fast! Y’all was just on A$AP hard! I sold 165,000 in the first week in the face of niggas that blatantly didn’t want to see me win. But y’all concerned about who’s next…”
This rant will continue for three minutes. But the implied keynote of the speech—which peaks with a nasally imitation of a hypothetical Pitchfork.com writer—is that, despite hip-hop’s infatuation with new faces, Wale and his Maybach Music Group family have now. To the naked eye, Rick Ross assembled his diverse unit to grapple with loaded rap rosters like G.O.O.D. Music’s and Young Money’s for the No. 1 spot. It’s his own musical Dream Team that lives up to Ross’ bigger-is-better mantra. There are over-the-top antics like a May press conference with open bar Cîroc and disoriented guest speakers announcing project release dates, business ventures and an artist signing. Everything is a Spliff TV-directed motion picture.
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