Former Drug Kingpin Ricky Ross Talks about Hip Hop’s War on Young Black Men
Many of us saw “Freeway” Ricky Ross on American Gangster. Ross was one of the most notorious drug kingpins in history, earning tens of millions of dollars selling crack cocaine in South Central Los Angeles. After serving a great deal of time in prison and reconsidering his choices, Ross has a lot to say to the black community.
In a recent interview Ross did with TheLoop21, the former drug dealer talks about black men, media images and self-hate that fuel some of the problems in the black community. He is also joined by his business partner, Antonio Moore.
Loop 21: Why do you think the media portrays black men negatively? How do they benefit?
Moore: I think the media is being irresponsible, and are purely motivated by profit. It’s taking the simplest line to make a profit. Right now, America has accepted that black men are America’s criminal. And as a result, the more that you reflect that image, the more that people tune in. But when you start showing images of people like myself on television, it doesn’t have the same caché.
Ross: In the media, good news is not something that’s celebrated. When I go out and speak, people have the nerve to ask me, why should we listen to you? Why should our kids listen to what you have to tell them about drugs, when you did all of this? So what winds up happening is that they only look at the bad side of us, and never the good.
I believe that the system is working just the way it was planed to work. I don’t believe that they ever had plans on the young black man living up to his true potential. It benefits them to have a rapper go out and portray this image so that thousands of other young black men will try to follow in his footsteps. Everybody has their own choices on what they want to do with their lives, but sometimes when you brainwash somebody so much, you’re really taking their choice away from them.
Moore: One of the questions we’ve gotten in a number of arenas is what’s the difference between this rapper talking about Rick’s life, and Rick putting out his biopic about his life. What people who say that mean is they haven’t read the screenplay, and they don’t understand that the depths of a drug dealer’s experiences aren’t necessarily in the highs, but in the lows, and the losses. And right now, the rapper, unlike other rappers who came before him, doesn’t rap about the lows. He raps about fanciful highs that go higher than probably the normal drug dealer even experiences. He doesn’t rap about losing friends and things like that too much. So all you get is that fanciful life.
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