When I pull up on Rick Ross at his house in Atlanta, on an overcast Tuesday afternoon in mid-December, I find him laid up, living out the exact scenario one would imagine for a rap interview, but so casually that it's almost as if he forgot he was expecting company.

Ross has a palatial estate worthy of a Hype Williams video; Evander Holyfield’s former mansion, as you may have heard. The images and impromptu house tours he's prone to share on Snapchat and Instagram don't do it justice. With ornately framed memorabilia spanning musical legends from the '60s to rap gods like JAY-Z, Kanye West, and of course, himself, certain corridors of the house can feel like a museum dedicated to himself and music overall. 

Goodfellas is on the TV—at the time of my entrance, Jimmy Conway just stabbed Morrie in the throat with an ice pick—and weed is being broken up over a coffee table. This is the kind of scene that fantasies of rapper visits are made of, but in this case, it couldn't be more everyday or more devoid of pomp and circumstance.

For one, Rick Ross isn’t in some grand living room or den, but rather a nondescript first-floor bedroom, the interior of which is still bigger than some NYC studio apartments. He'll later tell me it's one of his favorite out of the 99 other rooms in the house, and one he comes to most often to post up alone. The TV sits mounted on the far wall, surrounded by framed basketball jerseys and at least 20 pairs of sneakers neatly lined up on the floor, in front of a couch and armchair, where Ross lounges in basketball shorts, enjoying his weed. He's in the middle of a Scorsese filmography binge, inspired by attending a recent screening of The Irishman.

At the time of this interview, the 62nd Grammy Awards are about a month and a half away, wherein Rick Ross is nominated for Best Rap Song with "Gold Roses," a song that literally starts with him coming to terms with the reality that he'll probably never win one. Featuring Drake, the song serves as the outro to Port of Miami 2, his tenth solo studio album, which released last summer. It's his first solo project in two years, one where he sounds like he's fully transitioned into a veteran position. He also sounds recharged and ready to enter the new decade just as invigorated as he began the previous one—with one of the best verses on the decade's best album, a run of three solo projects that each have claims as being his best work, and at the helm of one of the early 2010s' most formidable rap crews. As the tragedy of Henry Hill plays out in the background, Renzel and I reflect on his year, the past decade, and what he has planned for the next ten years.

Large play button icon