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By the time the coronavirus swept across the country in March 2020, Rick Ross realized the awful sickness that felled him two months earlier after a trip to South Africa was COVID-19.
The “fungus,” as he refers to it, knocked him out of commission for almost a month. After rehabbing at his Miami residence, Ross returned to The Promise Land, his 235-acre estate about 18 miles south of downtown Atlanta, grasping the reality that, from a professional standpoint, 2020 was kaput.
So he bought a John Deere tractor and started mowing his own grass, visited with his three horses, sat on a swing by his pond and explored areas of the property - formerly owned by boxing great Evander Holyfield, recently used in "Coming 2 America" – he previously had no time to experience.
He also wrote a book: “The Perfect Day to Boss Up: A Hustler’s Guide to Building Your Empire” (out now). Filled with colorful anecdotes, it’s a breezy read that combines his experiences as a business owner (Wingstop), record label mogul (Maybach Music Group) and mega-rapper (from “Hustlin’” in 2006 to upcoming album “Richer Than I Ever Been”) with tips for success.
Coming from some, advice such as “always stay a student” and “speak it into existence” might sound trite. But coming from a guy with a 45,000-square-foot house that includes a movie theater and the “largest residential swimming pool in the United States” (according to Ross), it’s legit guidance.
“I have 20 current partnerships and people want to know, ‘Rozay, how did this happen?,’ especially when you wake up every day excited to do all of this,” Ross, 45, tells USA TODAY, referring to himself by his nickname. “To me, the way we manage our time is the most valuable commodity.”
Ross spent about 90 days during the early months of the pandemic with music journalist Neil Martinez-Belkin, who also co-wrote Ross’ 2019 book, “Hurricanes: A Memoir.” Martinez-Belkin stayed with Ross a few times for two or three week intervals, waking at the rapper’s preferred time of 6 a.m. and then listening to Ross’ stories.
“I’d have my first glass of Luc Belaire (Ross is a promoter of the brand) – I like to start with champagne – and then I would talk (expletive) the rest of the day,” Ross recalled with a laugh.
A chapter that details a Ross interaction last year with old friend Kanye West will intrigue fans of the mercurial rapper. West invited Ross to meet him at Atlanta’s Trilith Studios (then known as Pinewood Atlanta Studios), where he was operating his clothing and sneaker lines, as well as his presidential campaign, on a 40,000-square-foot sound stage.
Ross quickly learned that West’s presidential ambitions existed purely for publicity, he writes.
“Tomorrow I might tweet that I don’t feel like being president anymore,” West is quoted as saying in the book.
Even a businessman as savvy as Ross was irritated by the ploy, as he writes, “All of this (expletive) was for attention, and it didn’t really matter if it was positive or negative attention because his brand grew either way. That’s why he liked Donald Trump. That’s why he loved the Kardashians. It all made sense now.”
But their friendship has remained steady, as Ross tells USA TODAY that he attended both of West’s Atlanta listening events this summer for his recently released “Donda” album.
“It wasn’t about the actual sound, but the presentation,” Ross said. “That a young Black artist pulled this off, and to listen to his creativity, that was groundbreaking. I can’t not acknowledge it.”
Ross will indulge in his own musical leanings when his rescheduled Feed the Streetz tour with Jeezy, Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, Fabolous, Lil Kim, Boosie BadAzz and DJ Drama kicks off Oct. 1 in Atlanta.
“I want to perform for the fans I love. (Last year) was the first time I was off in 15 years. I’m looking forward to performing while I can still do it,” Ross says. “This is not just a paycheck for me. I’m looking for fans because when I go to certain markets, they’re still there every time.”
Before Ross hits the road, he’ll host his first-ever “Boss Up” conference at The Promise Land, Sept. 18-20, with guests including Diddy, Dr. Dre and L.A. Reid. The event is open to the public, but prospective attendees must register for a membership (bossupconference.com) to “keep it intimate,” Ross says.
While he believes that the new book gives fans and entrepreneurs alike a “90-day experience of waking up with Ross,” the multi-hyphenate has another business lesson embedded in his conference.
“I believe that in being a boss, you have to remain as hands-on as possible.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rick Ross talks Kanye West, how to be a hustler in new book