Rick Ross Breaks Down 'Black Market' Track-By-Track

Dustin Aksland
Rick Ross photographed by Dustin Aksland, Feb. 24th at Nat Sherman Townhouse in New York, NY.

It's raining in Miami but it's a beautiful day for Rick Ross. The Maybach Music ringleader celebrates the release of his eighth studio album Black Market, an introspective LP written and recorded while Rozay faced incarceration and house arrest. Majority of the LP was even tracked while he was confined to his home in Atlanta.

Still, the struggle didn't keep him from getting personal. On the album, the Miami-bred bawse opens up about being a ghostwriter, his love for his family and even his own self doubts. In his words, the result is “priceless.”

“I'm just excited the streets excited,” he says. “I took my time, and I put some big records together, some dope ass ideas, concepts. I gave them some raw emotion. The streets feel that, and they appreciate that, and that's what I love the most.”

Peek into Ross' mind as he breaks down Black Market track-by-track for Billboard below.

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"Free Enterprise" (Feat. John Legend)

"That was one of the first records I actually wrote over the summer I was incarcerated. I recorded it the first day I came home. I wanted the album to feel like you're walking into a room and just completely open your mind to all the possibilities. Everything is a go, so I made the title “Free Enterprise.” It costs you nothing to dream as big as you can. My feet are on the ground and I just wanted to take you through my timeline. It most definitely (set the tone) and I recorded it the way it played out in my mind. John Legend is brilliant. I feel he may be my best collaborator when it comes to delivering that undeniable soulful sound, and he does it in such a classy way."

"Smile Mama, Smile" (Feat. CeeLo Green)

Once again, being incarcerated, you have time to sit down and realize what means the most to you. I wanted my album to be a walk through my mind, and that's what that was. You wakin' up, greeting the morning with “Free Enterprise,” and by the time you put your feet down from the bed, what's running through your mind is what means the most to you, what's your most valuable asset, which is my family. When I think of CeeLo Green, I think about previous collaborations, like “Tears of Joy.” I said, 'Wow, that was one of my most powerful records ever.” The cross between this energy from “Tears of Joy” to me discussing what means the most for me, this should be a brilliant record. We brought it to life.

"One of Us" (Feat. Nas)

Me and Nas was in Miami. We were actually on a yacht. It was a real private business event but it was an extravagant yacht among a few wealthy people, a few companies. Me and him took time out and had us a private discussion about a couple of different things, and the beautiful thing about that is this record was birthed from that conversation. We finished the record maybe a week or two after we had seen each other in Miami. I think that's real dope when the music comes about organically like that.

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"Silk Road"

That's the black market trade, the hustle itself. I wanted the production to feel really out in the open. When you hear the rain drops, it's like you're really outside. I just thought about the past to the present, speaking on different hustles and money in the attic, the way it smells after being up there two years. Nobody ever told me it would smell like that.

"Color Money"

“Silk Road” is a great bridge into "Color Money," which is strictly that fast dope boy Miami lifestyle. Blue hundred dollar bills. That's most definitely one of those anthems.

"Dope Dick"

That's a term we've been using in the streets for years and years on different levels. On one level, "dope dick" was a term used by OGs or hustlers for using heroin and having sex. Then, there was the more youthful side where we embraced it and took it as just being some of the best sex a woman has ever and will ever experience. I figured [I'd] do the record and have something real cool in the club for the ladies. They got something they can hashtag.

"Crocodile Python"

That was a record that I wrote while incarcerated on a small piece of paper with a small ink pen that was illegal at the time, but I had to have it. That's why the title was just so abstract and obnoxious. I was sitting in a pale room under light 23 hours a day and I just wanted to think most about the texture that I would love to see. That's the first thing that came to my mind. I'm trying to give them a real experience and give them some of this emotion that I'm feeling, so many things running through my mind, me questioning what's really going on. Am I doing the right thing? I mention my son's mom, mention the district attorneys. I discuss social racism and a lot of things in a way that walk by you if you're not really paying attention.

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"Ghost Writer"

That's just me speaking of one of my more lucrative hustles. It's pretty much a given known fact in the industry that before I was successful, I wrote for other artists. I had a lot of fun with it and I wanted to make that a record because it's such a trending topic. I wanted to make a record to let the fans and listeners see it from the inside. I do see a lot of young artists who write records or sacrifice records, because there are a lot of older artists who are preoccupied, they don't have as much time as they used to to be in the studio. Here is this young artist putting out five albums a day who can just sit there and come out with these ideas from verses and rhymes, whatever it is. They play their music for an artist, an executive or a label, and they end up letting that label use their music – which can also be a good thing for a writer if they have their shit in perspective.

"Black Opium" (Feat. DJ Premier)

The scratches and the raw fuckin' element that Premier brings to the culture, it's so important that we keep his image and that image alive. Even though it's Art Basel [in Miami right now], that's poppin' now. We can't let these streets forget about that era of the graffiti on the subway walls. When I think of DJ Premier, that's what I think about and what I feel.

"Can't Say No" (Feat. Mariah Carey)

I have to send so much love her way. She was in the middle of filming a movie and we actually spoke in between takes a couple times, send each other texts. I just want to say I love her, and thank you so much.

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"Peace Sign"

It's getting later in the night at the club, you've been sipping on your Belaire Rose all night, and you're eyeing your target. This is how I need to end my night, you dig? I've got to shout out Red Cafe. He came through and played the production and the idea for me. I got right on it, and I took it where I wanted to. I touched on the ladies, lickin' on the belly button a little bit. I felt it was a real sexy, a well-needed addition to the LP.

"Very Best" (Feat. Mary J. Blige)

That's just a dream come true for me. Mary J. on my album. Wow. I remember smoking a nickel bag of weed listening to What's the 411?, and now she's on my album. I got her behind some big production, some slow, syrupy, live feelin', big beat. It's like I see Mary comin' out with that bop. I'm giving them that talk, that Black Market talk, that special talk.

"Sorry" (Feat. Chris Brown)

That's me and all my compadres speaking for all the males and the guys around the world apologizing for all our fuck ups, lies, and mistakes to all you beautiful women out there. We just made it look fly while we was doing it. Shout out to Chris Brown. His vocals are amazing on this record with Scott Storch. I feel like it was perfect timing for him, and of course, this was a great record for me.

"D.O.P.E." (Feat. Future)

Future is the homie. I watched him come up and do his thing back when he was running with Rocco and he was on my video sets. There's some Ricky Rozay videos you can go back to and see a young Future running around in the background. Just to see the homie rockin', closin' the LP out, I think that was just dope for the Southern rap game and for street rap.