Former drug kingpin Freeway Ricky Ross has stepped forward to speak out on recently making headlines for losing a copyright case against Def Jam rap star Rick Ross.
In a statement, Freeway placed an emphasis on Ricky Rozay making profits off allegedly using his street fame.
“I respect Hip-Hop as an art form and consider many of its artists some of my close friends. But I believe the art form owes an obligation of authenticity. You cannot go out and say you sold cocaine at Kilo to Metric ton scale and be so detached from the experience. If you do, you have an obligation to the youth to tell them the truth and not lie about the facts of your circumstance to try to further validate the mistruth. There is a teachable moment about the state of our community when a man who has a respectable job as a correctional officer, has to recreate himself in my former image as a large-scale kingpin to gain what he feels is social acceptance as a successful man.” (AHH)
Freeway also made a promise to continue his own campaign of awareness and help artists receive exposure.
“I will continue to go around the country and speak at schools, speaking to the need for the youth to avoid getting caught up in the dope game. Also I will be going city to city giving artists that don’t get looks by labels Mixtape exposure. I look forward to the release of my autobiographical book due out in February, and film in development to help tell the truth about how Black American Cities developed and turned to drugs, the dope game and its consequences.” (AHH)
According to recent reports, Ricky Rozay had been cleared for use of Freeway’s name despite handfuls of court battles.
The former cocaine kingpin who claims that rapper Rick Ross stole his name and identity cannot sue, a California appeals court ruled. “We recognize that Roberts’ work – his music and persona as a rap musician – relies to some extent on plaintiff’s name and persona,” Presiding Justice Roger Boren wrote for the court. “Roberts chose to use the name ‘Rick Ross.’ He raps about trafficking in cocaine and brags about his wealth. These were ‘raw materials’ from which Roberts’ music career was synthesized. But these are not the very sum and substance’ of Roberts’ work.” (Courthouse News)
Presiding Justice Roger Boren detailed why the panel did not rule in Freeway’s favor last month.
“Roberts created a celebrity identity, using the name Rick Ross, of a cocaine kingpin turned rapper. He was not simply an imposter seeking to profit solely off the name and reputation of Rick Ross. Rather, he made music out of fictional tales of dealing drugs and other exploits -some of which related to plaintiff. Using the name and certain details of an infamous criminal’s life as basic elements, he created original artistic works. A work is transformative if it adds ‘new expression.'” (Courthouse News)
Freeway also could not win over a judge in a dispute against Rozay and his record company last year.
On Wednesday, a judge rejected claims made by “Freeway” Ricky Ross — who ran a notorious drug empire that covered Los Angeles in the 1980s and 1990s — against Warner Bros. Records over the career of hip hop star Rick Ross. The first Ross says the second Ross (born William Leonard Roberts II) stole his name and likeness, with the help of Jay-Z and others in the music industry. Unfortunately for the plaintiff, who was released from prison in 2009 on good behavior and now counsels youth, he’s been having trouble convincing a judge that he brought his claims soon enough over a rapper who has been around a decade. (The Hollywood Reporter)
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