Now that the world is starting to know him through his guest appearances and street smashes, all he has to do is say the name "Rossss" and hip-hop heads know who it is: Rick Ross.
The husky Miami native's 10-year wait is almost over: In less than two weeks, the man Jay-Z and Def Jam have invested millions in will release Port of Miami.
"I predicted a classic, man," Ross said of the LP, before watching his new video, "Push It," Tuesday in Los Angeles. "I put out countless mixtapes. My mixtapes down South been doing so good for so long, it just gave me more experience at putting the album together. I knew, 'This is going to be Port of Miami,' my first official time [releasing an album]. I got all the resources to make it a success. I just took my time. ... I got the best beats money could buy — not the most expensive, but the best — [from producers] the Runners, Cool & Dre, DJ Khaled, Jazze Pha, DJ Toomp came in, Just Blaze."
Ross also worked with Akon, who produced and sings on "Cross That Line."
"That's just a record that represents where we come from and the principles of where we come from," Ross explained. "That's the kind of record I wanted to do with a brother like Akon: real black, real strong. When I came in, he had that ready for me. When I [saw him] in a club in Miami, I let him know I wanted some hard sh-- from him. Then I went to see him in a studio in Atlanta, and he had it ready. I was fortunate to walk in, hear the beat, the hook, all I had to do was my thing."
Judging from Akon's proven track record, "Cross That Line" could be a single. Ross originally was going to follow up his smash hit "Hustlin' " with "Blow," featuring Dre of Cool & Dre singing on the hook. But he opted for "Push It," a much edgier cut (see "Rick Ross Ready to 'Blow' Up When He Docks At Port Of Miami In August").
"I leaked it," Ross said of "Blow." "That was a strategy to touch a different audience. Let the ladies know you could get sexy, kick your shoes off. That's what we did. Now we pushin' it to the limit."
In the video for "Push It," Ross compares his struggle and triumph to that of another Miami staple: Al Pacino's Tony Montana from "Scarface."
"The video is almost similar to 'Scarface,' me starting at the bottom," Ross said. "It took me a decade to get here. We turned the mixtapes into multimillion-dollar bidding wars. I was small-time, I grew, I blossomed verse-by-verse. We chronicled the rise. 'Push It' — it's gonna be a motivational record. It ain't just for the 'hood. If you're a kid playing soccer, basketball, any goal you trying to accomplish or trying to achieve, it's going to be something resourceful for you. You gotta push it to the limit."
It seems like Ross is not only pushing himself to go platinum with Port of Miami but to be on the most guest verses in 2006.
"It's love, man," he said about all the calls he's getting to be on his peers' albums. "I'm staying busy. I'm on Snoop's new album, Birdman and Lil Wayne's album. I'm fiendin' to sit down and put some songs together with Diddy, the Boys N Da Hood project. Too many."
Ross has also laid verses for the new Fat Joe and Nina Sky LPs and is getting plenty of love from show promoters to get him on their bills. There are no official tour plans, but Ross might go on a joint headlining outing with Yung Joc.