Rick Ross always has an eye on his next money move. Within the last year, Rozay opened the doors of his 12-bedroom home in Atlanta for the production of the Coming to America sequel. He also recently authored two books: Hurricanes: A Memoir in 2020 and The Perfect Day to Boss Up: A Hustler’s Guide to Building Your Empire, which will be released this fall. And now, the self-proclaimed “Bawse” is leaning into one of his favorite ventures: Wingstop.
Rick Ross is a franchise owner of 25 Wingstop locations, and today he is helping the company launch its first virtual brand: Thighstop. The whole thing was ideated as a way to address a shortage of wings. So instead of chicken wings, the company will offer consumers a menu exclusively of thighs via Thighstop.com and DoorDash. And yes, along with 10 other flavors on the menu, lemon pepper will be included. “We back outside, and it’s time to take it to the next level,” Ross says of Thighstop. “We know how Wingstop perfected wings. Now, just imagine that juiciest part of the meat, and we boss it up, baby.”
Ross is juggling the latest venture with his upcoming album, Richer Than I Ever Been. He tells Complex that he’s in the “final stages” of the project, and it could be out as early as this summer. “It’s going to be exciting,” he says. “I really pushed the envelope. I didn’t want to put something on the street just to say I released another project. I wanted to elevate, go to the next level. I believe I’ve done that.”
As for what else he’s been cooking up in music, Ross is strategic in his answers. But he did let slip that this era of his career will be reminiscent of 2006 and 2007. He hopped on Zoom from his home office in Atlanta to tell Complex about Thighstop, Richer Than I Ever Been, his new property, and what’s up with that joint album with Drake. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.
You’ve been very vocal about your support for Wingstop. Why is it important to you to always let people know about the brand?
Well, first and foremost, my personal passion for it hasn’t wavered any, over all the years I’ve loved Wingstop. You see, I’m still repping it like it’s the first time I had it. And when I eat Wingstop, it’s still like the first time I had it. And on a business side, when I went and sat down with the CEO, Charlie Morrison, he knew I had no experience being a franchisee. He knew I didn’t have the time sitting in a franchise, but he saw my vision and my passion. He opened the doors for me. He didn’t just let me follow my dreams; he let me go to that next level.
Last year, you told Complex, “If Lizzo lets me take her to Wingstop, I’ma do a Lizzo collab.” Did that ever happen? Did you guys ever meet?
No, it didn’t. I can’t wait, though. It’s still on the table. She’s a dope artist.
Last week, you went viral for revealing that you cut your own grass and fly commercial to save money. Why do you think it’s important to practice smart spending habits, although you’re known for making luxurious music?
I think being a boss means remaining hands-on. Ain’t nothing wrong if you got a few hundred acres and you cut your grass. Just use the coolest lawn mower. Tint your lawnmower. Your lawnmower has radio, Bluetooth, WiFi, the whole nine. But it’s still all about being hands-on. And when I still walk into one of my Wingstop stores, I’ll pick up a broom, I’ll pick up a mop. I take photos with the team, anybody, walking in and out. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what I try to stick to.
What is some financial advice you could give to people?
I just say, if you love it, don’t be scared to do it. Gamble it all, if it’s something you love and if it’s something you believe in. That’s the only way I could tell somebody, because I don’t have a perfect definition. “Rozay, how you get to where you at?” Man, I took a lot of gambles, but I know I had my heart in everything I did. It’s a lot of things I walked away from, but the few I did run with, man, I got my heart in it. And Wingstop was one of them.
You have a book coming out in the fall. Will The Perfect Day to Boss Up share more of a behind the scenes look at your spending habits?
This was a book that I put together during the pandemic when I had that time to do everything I wanted to do. We fed the horses, we cut the grass, we did this and that. It really opened the doors for me. It’s a lot of things that a lot of people may not believe. Me cutting the grass or me flying Delta, that’s just a tip of the iceberg.
“My album will be out this summer, and it’s going to be exciting. I really pushed the envelope.”
You recently bought some land that you call the “Promise Land.” What are your plans for the land?
I have a lot of options. The Promise Land is actually the estate that was formerly owned by Evander Holyfield. That was another 90 acres that was available that sat right on the backside that I purchased. I had an offer already that was over half a million dollars profit within the first six months of it. But we got a lot of different options and I haven’t decided yet. Once I do, I’ll let you know.
Can you give us an update on your upcoming album?
Richer Than I Ever Been. I’m actually in the final stages of the LP. I can’t wait to get ready and release it. I want to release two records, possibly at one time. They could be coming as soon as in the next two or three weeks. But my album will be out this summer, and it’s going to be exciting. I really pushed the envelope. I didn’t just want to put something on the street just to say I released another project. I wanted to elevate, go to the next level. I believe I’ve done that. So, we fixing to get ready and drop it.
Last year, you dropped “Pinned to the Crossed,” which discussed social injustices. Do you plan on pushing the envelope with more music like that?
I wanted to release “Pinned to the Cross” because I couldn’t move forward without putting something on the street, letting them know what was on my conscience. It wasn’t even a statement; it was just what was on my mind at the time. I pulled that track up and I let it go. On Richer Than I Ever Been, I’m most definitely going to give them that uncut Rozay. We the leaders. We got to take control. We got to remain in charge. That’s just the way I always felt. It’s going to be some big boy music on there. I’m sticking to the big boy music.
You shared a photo with Kanye West on Instagram recently, which led to rumors of a collaboration coming. Is there a possibility he could show up on the album?
It is a possibility. When me and Kanye did sit down, we discussed some of his fashion moves and we most definitely had a studio set up in the middle of the fashion floor and we went through beats, ideas, concepts, etc. So it is a possibility.
Are there any other collaborations on the album that you can tell us about?
Oh man, I can tell you this… There are collaborations that I’m excited for and I’m going to tell you it’s going to be a thing. What I can tell you is Rozay is in a beautiful space. So, you never know who may be on one of these joints. I may go for the old school classics. I may pull one Ron Isley out.
Speaking of collaborations, you said that a joint project with Drake is “under serious consideration.” What’s the update on that?
Well, me and Drizzy, we may have spoken within the last 48 hours. But it’s only so much I can say other than: this is the closest or the realest he’s ever been. He’s wrapping up his project and I’m in the same space. So the timing and everything is aligning. It’s something that we really want to give to the streets, on some real shit. So, it’s looking real solid. That’s the most I can say.
Wale is dropping a new single. Is that potentially leading up to a Self Made 4 this year?
It’s going to lead up to a Wale project. We always release our Self Made joints as the follow-up to our solo albums. We all made our solo albums priorities. But I look forward to introducing two new artists to the MMG team. Then once everybody does their thing, we’ll drop another Self Made.
What’s the play for MMG in 2021 and 2022?
Oh, everybody’s cooking up right now. Everybody in the studio is working on their projects—Meek, Wale. And as far as myself, I don’t have the date [for my album] yet, but I’m putting my whole body [of work] together. And once I finish my body, that’s when I decide the joints I’m going to drop. I’m going to roll out and then we’re going to come with everything else after that.
You’re rumored to appear on Nipsey Hussle’s “Blue Laces 3.” What can you tell us about that collaboration?
I can’t. I want them, his team and the fam, to release what they want to release. I’m going to support it, either way it go.
Nip was also business-minded like yourself. What do you remember about conversations with Nip?
When I speak on the business mind, I remember Nipsey speaking to me about cryptocurrency. I want to say, maybe five years ago. He was so ahead of his time and the things I was discussing with him, he was impressed with, and it was vice versa. So we would have conversations about music, production, raps, down south, east coast, west coast. And then we would go into these other things that I had no knowledge about. And he was telling me about it, and we was going back and forth.
Earlier this year, people were discussing who would be on the Mt. Rushmore of rap for the 2010s. They mentioned Drake, Kendrick, and J. Cole. Do you feel like you get counted out of these conversations?
No, I don’t feel like I’m counted out, because it just depends on who’s doing the counting. When Rozay come out, it’s a special thing. And I love to let my work speak for itself.
You mentioned that you have some unfinished business on the Verzuz stage against T.I. Have you discussed that idea with Swizz and Timbaland?
No, I haven’t. But I love Verzuz, and I’m still open to do my part two and I’ll be the first one to do the part two. I got a lot more heat. And that’s no disrespect to nobody because I went out and jammed [in the Verzuz against 2 Chainz], but I most definitely kept a lot of records. You would have to play part one, part two, part three, for it to really feel the way it’s supposed to. So I’m open to it.
Last month, you defended J. Cole for going pro in Rwanda. Why do you think it’s important to see people like him living out that goal, despite the criticism he got from other players?
First and foremost, we’ve got to lead by example, and it’s nobody that’s going to feel sorry for you whenever you make it to the majors. That’s why they call it the major league. Once you make it to the top, you’ve got to earn it, and where you’re from can’t count. What the owner of the team wants to know is who is going to score the most points. When you earn something, you work for something, and I knew homie, Cole was putting in a lot of work behind the scenes a lot of people ain’t see. You’re probably just thinking, “Oh, he’s a rich rapper, that’s it.” No, homie was really grinding. And if he earned that, respect it. If you’re going to wet them threes, wet them things, you know what I’m talking about?
What’s the most important thing you want people to know about you at this stage in your career?
I’m richer than I ever been. [Laughs]. No, I’m going to be honest. I’m going harder than I ever have, and I think it only makes sense, they all run parallel. I’m sitting in the lab, cooking like it’s ‘06, ‘07. We got a lot of big joints coming. A lot of dope collabs, a lot of other joints we’re doing for others as well. So yeah, this summer, it should be fun.