This past Wednesday, the Political Theory Project, in collaboration with Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), brought “Freeway” Rick Ross to speak on campus (don’t you dare confuse him with the rapper). In a lecture entitled “Drug Kingpin Turned Reformer,” Ross spoke of his belief that he, and other former drug dealers, must play vital roles in ending the War on Drugs and enacting sensible policies that would target the massive rates of hyper-incarceration and drug recidivism in our country. Ross eloquently echoed messages of education over incarceration, highlighting the importance of giving every individual a chance to grow and develop his or her innermost talents. While these are all messages that seem to fit under the title of this lecture, those in attendance also had the pleasure of learning some interesting facts about the former leader of a massive drug empire:
1. Rick Ross is helping Nick Cassavetes create a movie based on his life. If you don’t know Nick Cassavetes as the director of The Notebook or Alpha Dog, you probably know him as Dietrich Hassler in Face/Off, Tattoo Joe in The Hangover Part II, or the most notable Adonis Papadapadopounopoulopoulos in Farticus. Apparently Nick Cannon will be playing Ross in the film and, according to this YouTube video, Ross had wanted Cannon to play him “since ’96.” Needless to say, we’re not quite sure what to expect here.
2. He has a t-shirt line. At his lecture, Ross wore a shirt which said, “The Real Rick Ross is not a Rapper.” He told us that he first started selling his t-shirts out of the trunk of his car and by going from door-to-door trying to sell his product. Check out his shirts here.
3. The “real” Rick Ross can also rap. On Ross’ Official Website, you can find many of his songs, including “Real Gangstas” with Alex Fatt released on March, 16, 2014, which basically shames many rappers who promote a culture of selling drugs into their rap personas.
4. Ross used to be a killer tennis player. He even attributes abstaining from gang activity to his passion for tennis. Tennis, he said, took him momentarily out of South Central L.A. and into a world of greater promise. Growing up in poverty, Ross told the audience that he had holes in every pair of his socks and in his tennis sneakers to the point that he used a piece of a tennis ball to patch the hole in his shoe. At one point, Ross had an extremely promising tennis career and was starting to be noticed by many college scouts; however, once Ross’ tennis coach realized that he was functionally illiterate (he did not read a book until prison), any chance of getting a college scholarship was lost.
5. Ross started his own literacy foundation and teaches at the Los Angeles Inspire Research Academy. Check out the Freeway Literacy Foundation, an organization that seeks to lessen the disparities in literacy for those with less access to sufficient education. The beginning of this organization’s mission statement says, “Freeway Rick Ross is the founding member and believes in the power of literacy because of the profound impact it has had on his own life. Learning to read and write quite LITERALLY FREED HIM!” The organization discusses the need to link with communities and schools to promote literacy; however, there is no specific mention of programs listed on the foundation’s site.
We might need to do more research on this one, but it seems that….
6. “Freeway” just started his own women’s empowerment group called “Freeway Divaz.” According to Ross’ Facebook status, this Women’s Empowerment movement will be led by his wife and was “created to assist ladies all over the world to believe in themselves and encourage to help other ladies on a daily bases” (sic). We look forward to seeing more from this group in the future.