Rick Ross Keeps a Borrowed Name, and Finally Transcends All Limits

Rick Ross Keeps a Borrowed Name, and Finally Transcends All Limits
Rapper Rick Ross performs during the 2011 BET Awards
(Courtesy Getty Images)

Rick Ross the rapper named himself after “Freeway” Ricky Donnell Ross, the drug dealer. Ricky Ross sued Rick Ross for use of the name but, as TMZ reported today, lost. There is also a less popular rapper, Freeway, who named himself after the same drug dealer. All three have distinctive beards. Like their beards, each man grew his name (adopted and otherwise) on his own. But we think the Rick Ross born William L. Roberts, the rapper who also refers to himself as Rozay, has a special claim on it.

We’ve discussed the certain kind of fantasy that Rick Ross — once a corrections officer, never a known drug dealer — offers. The dismissal of this lawsuit just verifies his inside-out version of the American dream, where he took what he wanted with little risk and, in the end, won out. The meaninglessness of the importance of the name is precisely its meaning: He adopted a well-known “brand” to rap about a lifestyle he probably never led — until he made enough money that he might as well have led it — and found his greatest success after being “found out” for having worked in law enforcement rather than law breaking.

If Jay-Z’s career has come to balance suggestions of past wrongdoing with executive work, fatherhood, and links with the White House, Rick Ross simply (although maybe paradoxically) embodies a sort of simulation — roots and current connections irrelevant. And this artistry you can see extending to different parts of his career: Claims that he’s too slow and incapable of a rapper, when he once rapped fast; Kreayshawn and the “white girl mob” putting him down; even the fact that an album released this year free as a mixtape, “Rich Forever,” may well equal his forthcoming official album, “God Forgives, I Don’t.” You can’t even buy the “correct” version of Rick Ross. He just comes correct, take it or leave it. He has transcended any kind of tradeoff. Anyone who wants to lay claim to the word “rosé,” just step right up. 

Previously: Rapper Rick Ross, “Rich Forever,” Turns the American Dream Inside Out