Is Rick Ross Sending The Wrong Message By Shouting Out Gangster Figures On His Latest Hit Song?
I think I’m Big Meech, Larry Hoover!
Whipping work, hallelujah!
One nation, under God,
Real n*ggas getting money from the f*cking start!
It’s catchy. It’s powerful. It’s perfect to throw on when you’re on the way to the club. At the club. Or on the way home from the club. And it’s a clear indication that Rick Ross has moved on after last year’s “Was he a correction officer or not?” debacle. But it’s something else, too—a ringing endorsement of the gangster lifestyle that Ross has embraced so often.
By name-checking infamous Black Mafia Family founder Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory and Gangster Disciples gang leader Larry Hoover (and creating an acronym from the title of the song to show a little love to the former’s gang), Ross leaves little to the imagination when it comes to explaining his influences. He even tweeted about it this weekend when he revealed that Meech reportedly thanked him for including his name in the song.
Anyone who’s listened to Ross over the course of his career shouldn’t be too surprised by any of this. He is, after all, the same guy who claimed to “know Noriega, the real Noriega” on his debut single, “Hustlin’,” back in 2006. The mixtape that the song appears on pays homage to Albert Anastasia, a notorious mob boss who helped lead the Gambino Crime Family during the 1950s. And, not for nothing, but his name is Rick Ross (for now, anyway) for a reason: He borrowed the moniker from “Freeway” Ricky Ross, a drug trafficker/gangster who ruled the streets of L.A. in the early 1980s.
In the hip-hop community, there’s nothing new about rappers crossing over into the world of gangsters, either. Like Ross, Philly rapper Freeway took his rap name from the real Rick Ross. Dozens of rappers have flipped gangster flicks like Scarface, Goodfellas, and Casino into samples for their songs. Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ and Nature even based their whole collaborative effort as The Firm on the mafioso lifestyle. Gangsters have always been embraced in hip-hop culture.
But, at this point in his career, is Rick Ross sending the wrong message by glorifying the gangster lifestyle to all of the hip-hop fans out there?
The simple answer is…Yes. But it’s not for any of the reasons that you’re probably thinking. It’s not because Ross never lived the lifestyle that he raps about. Or because he never sold drugs. Or because he served as a correctional officer at one point in his life.
Rather, I think Ross is sending the right message to people on “B.M.F.”—he’s just not doing it in the right way. Like him, love him or hate him (and judging by the comments I’ve gotten on just about every Rick Ross piece I’ve ever done, many of you opt for the latter, despite what the streets might say), you can’t deny that Rick Ross is self-made. He came up in the rap game without a cosign. He helped launch the career of The Runners. And he’s been one of the only rappers to sustain the wrath of 50 Cent.
Ross has fought and clawed for every ounce of respect that he feels he deserves in this game. He’s consistently gotten better on the mic. He’s selected the right beats to rap over. He’s even turned himself into one of the hardest working MCs in the business and borrowed beats from everyone from Rihanna to Erykah Badu to drop freestyles and self-produced (and, I assume, self-financed) videos to the Internet to help keep his name out there.
And, to me, all of that kind of gets lost in the mix when you hear a song like “Blowin’ Money Fast.” I get that Ross wants to compare himself to guys that went from nothing to something, but he does it in such a way that promotes the gangster side of things as opposed to the side that involves hard work, determination and consistency. I get that the hook sounds crazy in the club and the beat knocks, but by including Meech and Hoover in the chorus, the meaning gets diluated. I even get that by not including the gangster shout-outs, the song might not go as hard to a lot of people. But their involvement means that this track that should be about Ross being self-made is actually about a couple of guys who made themselves into something but did it in the wrong way.
There’s a positive message buried below the surface on “B.M.F.” It’s about becoming your own person, finding your own way and achieving your goals. It’s about doing things your way. It’s a message that a lot of people, no matter their occupations, look for and respect when they turn to music for inspiration. Unfortunately, for as strong as the track is otherwise, that message doesn’t come across as strong as it probably should.
Meech and Hoover both have fascinating stories. But Rick Ross has his own story to tell, too. I just hope his upcoming album, Teflon Don, gives him the opportunity to tell it.