Have you ever seen a couple argue?
It's awkward. I just witnessed Rick Ross's fiancée Lira Galore confront him about cheating. She threw a piece of evidence (specifically, a pink thong) at him. Then, she stormed out of their luxurious dining room into a breathtaking balcony overlooking Hollywood and Los Angeles.
And then the director yelled cut.
I saw this happen a few times, actually. We were on the set of Rozay's upcoming video for "Sorry," which is the first single off Black Market. While tabloids might love that argument stuff, there was actually none of that going on in real life. It was all for the video. Sorry, tabloids.
In fact, between every take, Lira and Rozay smiled, laughed and/or hugged. At one point (without cameras rolling) Galore jumped and wrapped her legs around The Bawse's waist. Sure, Ross raps about her doing that on "Sorry," but this wasn't for the video. It was just an embrace before filming resumed.
There was more of their affection earlier in the day too, when we sat down for an interview and discussed their engagement with Lira beside him.
"Me and Lira are so close that it wasn’t even about a question," he told me, while she rested her feet on his lap. "When the time came, I put that [ring] on her hand and let her know, 'It’s time to take it to the next level.'
"She’s a rider," he continued. "She’s a young star. She’s a genius, a great thinker. Even more important, she’s a great person."
I asked about the engagement because "Sorry" touches on Ross's romantic side. The cut also features Chris Brown in one of his most revealing moments. "Gave you my word but they were just broken promises," he sings on the hook. "Broken condoms, lipstick marks and unprotected sex/ I feel like sh-t/ You know I ain't sh-t/ I'm sorry."
How real is that?
Ross was floored when he heard those lyrics for the first time too. "I was like, ‘Yo, my homie really healing himself,’" he said. "That’s a young boss. When you go through something with someone that you forever will care about, sometimes you gotta discuss it. As fans, that’s what we gotta respect. There’s so many more things he could’ve said relating to any relationship or any woman, but he chose those words."
You can expect more of "Sorry's" honesty on Ross's upcoming Black Market LP, which is still being finalized (he told me he wanted to record seven songs that week). It's set to feature J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and Jake One production and it's also poised to be his most honest work to date.
"The album is most definitely my most sincere, maybe my most powerful yet," Ross explained. "It’s about me really opening my mind up past making music that I just wanna hear in the club, but actually having discussions with motherf--kers that they may actually absorb and understand what I’m talking about."
We saw some of that on his latest mixtape Black Dollar. On "Bill Gates," for example, he encouraged kids to avoid selling drugs and to focus on flipping restaurants. This obviously shows a different side of Ross than the newcomer we met back in 2006. "The same way I gave them ‘Hustlin’’ and was talking about straight hustlin', I gotta give them the game with where my mindset is at now," he said.
Rick also opened up about "crying in the dark" on Black Dollar's "We Gon Make It," which revealed vulnerability rarely seen from The Bawse. I asked him what moments inspired that line, curious to see what moved MMG's titan to tears.
“I remember I flew out to New York," he said, recalling his early days with Suave House Records CEO Tony Draper and EPMD's Erick Sermon. "This is before I got on...I was in a nice ass hotel room and I remember watching this award show and tears came to my eyes, n---a, like, ‘When the f—k I’ma get on?’
"I just remember walking around my room like [makes fuming noises]," he added. "Me being a passionate motherf--ker, you just turn that into what drives you. Whenever I’m confronted, whenever I’m challenged, once I decide how I’ma deal with it, I can’t wait to get to the studio."
Ross hit the studio again this year, amidst challenges. In July, he was released on bond after being arrested for kidnapping, assault and battery charges. He reportedly had to risk his $5 million mansion to make that happen. And he wears a reminder of that every day.
"I think me sitting here right now with you, with an ankle monitor on, out on bond, multiple millions of dollars tied up, we're in a situation where it's do-or-die," he explained. "So, now what you've been getting is music that I wanted to feed the streets with. These are things that have been at the top of my mind."
But as Ross wraps up his new album with that in mind, challenges keep coming. The latest issue? Talk of beef within his MMG camp. Last week -- two days after my interview with Rozay -- Wale and Meek Mill went back-and-forth on social media. It was, in some ways, reminiscent of Meek's feud with Drake earlier this year.
During our talk, I asked Ross if there was a part of him that wished Mill wouldn't have launched into that first anti-Drake Twitter tirade. "I’ve been in certain positions where people told me not to do that and I would do it again, if I had to," he said. "To me, that’s what the art is about. If your heart is into it, that's what you gotta do. That goes for whatever it is. You express yourself with your music the way you want to do it whenever you’re ready to do it."
Being fearless is a dope quality to have in a time of great change and that's exactly where Ross is now.
"I’m in a position where I’m renegotiating my new deal and deciding what I want to do as a boss and as an artist," he said. "A lot of people are interested in bringing advice and good business to the table because 2016 is poised to be one of the best years for my career. The possibilities of me taking my label somewhere else, management, publishing...All the stars are aligning right now."
But all of these business issues aren't the focus of this "Sorry" video shoot. Love is. The full vid is set to be released next week and, as the trailer shows, it's a tale of romance gone wrong. "I really wanted to show the magnitude of consequence," director Taj Stansberry told me on the set. "What we think the consequences usually are--sometimes it could go beyond that."
Watching Ross and Lira stare out onto L.A., I thought of him back in that New York hotel room. Since then, he's crafted a successful solo career, an empire with MMG and, perhaps most importantly, he seems to be at his happiest in his personal life. If this is what he's done since that tear-filled day, imagine what he'll do next.