Rapper Rick Ross' past turned out to be a little less sordid than everyone thought. So perhaps to obfuscate, he lifted his artist name wholesale -- from the real Rick/Ricky Ross, a drug kingpin in '80s Los Angeles who also went by the nickname Freeway. In '96, drug dealer Ross was sentenced to life in prison, but thanks to a combination of good behavior and better appeals lawyers, last year he was released to a halfway house.
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With the success of works like the Cocaine Cowboys documentary, it's a lucrative time for ex-dealers gone semi-good, and cashing in on his story has got to be on Freeway's mind. Here's the rub -- thanks to rapper Ross, the original can't use his own name without confusion. (To be fair, rickross.com is owned by neither of these people, but rather a New Jersey-based anti-cult nonprofit. The dealer's official site is at freewayenterprise.com, and the rapper's is at rickrossdeeperthanrap.com.)
So yesterday, Allhiphop reported that dealer Ross has followed the American way and sued rapper Ross, claiming the rapper has abused the dealer's image and name, preventing him from promoting his own projects. Dealer Ross claims he sent cease-and-desist letters to Def Jam back in 2006, which were ignored.
Rapper Ross, meanwhile, plans of course to battle the suit. We'll post updates as we get them.