Miami rapper Rick Ross, aka Rozay to his big homies, is pulling out all the stops for his “Mastermind” tour, which wraps up Saturday night at the James L. Knight Center in his hometown. Sure, the Maybach Music mogul is guaranteed to break out his hits including “Hustlin’,” “Push It,” “The Boss,” “Here I Am,” “Magnificent,” “Aston Martin Music,” “9 Piece,” “Diced Pineapples” and the new “Box Chevy” and “No Games.” But they’ll be performed in a totally different way, accompanied by the fabulously funky, five-piece band 1500 or Nothin’, which has toured with Snoop Dogg, T.I., Lupe Fiasco and The Game. Ross talked to Miami.com about the show, the chances of him being joined onstage by some of his many collaborators, and his role as Butterball in the late, great Starz series “Magic City.”
What inspired you to perform with a live band?
I wanted to keep it edgy, more street, gritty, artsy. I just feel it’s time for that now – my catalog is at that point. I was in the studio with Jay [Z] this past summer, and we were having that conversation, “Let’s create the music live in front of the band,” just talking about that feeling. Me getting with this 1500 or Nothin’ band, which is really a collective of Grammy-nominated writers and producers. It’s a real cool crowd. It’s like being able to make music with the Basquiats of your time, the Warhols of your time, just a real different vibe. Just being onstage, and me standing there between the band and the crowd – I can’t wait for that feeling again.
Does that inspire you to elevate your performance even more?
Most definitely. I feel like there’s still a lot more to do. And with the relationships I have, you never know who may walk out on the stage, you know? So that’s a beautiful thing. I feel like with a live band, it’d be more appropriate if Anita Baker came from behind the ropes and performed.
So you’re anticipating a few surprise guests at your show?
I mean, being the biggest boss in the game, baby, the chances are – it’s a really a good chance.
Were you going for a new sound with “Mastermind”?
I feel that it’s a more energetic sound, and at times it’s a more nostalgic sound, with my soulful approach. We’ve been getting on the phone with Bobby Womack during the last week, discussing a possible collaboration. The record I have already, I feel this would be something my Dad would enjoy if he was alive, you know?
Why did you name your label Maybach Music?
Just speaking for the type of music I wanted to make, and the level of quality. I think it just described the way I wanted it to feel.
Who or what most influenced your rapping style?
It’s hard to say, other than who I was huge fans of. What I was huge fans of, me growing up in Miami, they call it “twerk” now – we called it booty-shake, fast music, whatever you have. I most definitely love that, but that wasn’t my style. That didn’t influence the music I made. So it was just different vibes, different energy, you know? I think that’s what always made me elite.
You had a really cool role as the bolita boss Butterball in “Magic City,” a show on Starz that sadly got canceled recently.
I’m still disappointed.
Yeah, that was such a good show. But do you have any more acting jobs on the horizon?
It’s weird – I’ve got numerous offers. But if it’s not something I love or am a fan of, or just really want to be a part of, I’m not gonna put myself in that position, you know? I felt that that was something I wanted to do because I was such a huge fan of the story line, and where it was being filmed. Just being based on my city, being from 3-0-5, you know how we ride.
So you liked the way the city was being portrayed in the show?
I liked the fact that it was so refreshing, so new, so rich. It really took you deep into that time frame, the late ‘50s, from the cast to the wardrobe – things of that nature. The scene I played in, we was down in Liberty City, on 48th Street and 7th Avenue, and every car was decorated on the block. They just went to the next level, and I thought it was a great show.
How did they approach you to do it?
It was actually the other way around – I approached them. I was riding around the city seeing all these billboards: “Magic City.” I’m like, “Who is this, making another cheesy story line about my city?” So it took me by surprise when I actually watched the first episode. I was like, “Wow, this is dope, this is strong.” And I was just imagining where it could go by the third or the fourth season. I’m pretty sure we were gonna drag them across the bridge and bring ‘em to Overtown like we had just started to do on my scene. It was a good thing.
You’re famously a big Miami Heat fan. Think they’ll three-peat this year?
I feel we will.
Even with everyone out for their heads?
That’s the best thing. That’s the way it goes. That’s what you anticipate. That’s what I anticipate. I know Lebron and D-Wade anticipate it. That’s why we hold our rings in the sky, baby [laughs].
What do you think you’d be doing today if you didn’t have musical talent?
You never know. You never know.