Frank Underwood Fixes Five Rap Careers: Rick Ross (Pt 1)

By: Keith Nelson Jr (@JusAire)

*This five-part series will use quotes and scenarios from House of Cards' Season 3 to help five hip hop artists in need of saving.*


PREVIOUSLY: Frank Underwood Fixes Five Rap Careers: Kanye West


“I’m always top five. That’s in my mind. The beauty of the Forbes list is that it excites the streets. It gives people an idea of what’s going on financially. It inspires the youngsters.”-Rick Ross in Forbes interview (September 2014) 

A delusion is only a vision when other people see it and for the past three years, Maybach Music Group head honcho Rick Ross has been the deluded leading the blind.  Hip Hop does not have approval ratings, but if the general consensus among Hip Hop fans were polled, Rick Ross' approval rating would be shockingly low for an artist you see everywhere. The man who has held parties when his albums reach Gold status released two albums, Mastermind and Hood Billionaire in an eight month span in 2014 that have not reached that coveted spot. Before 2014, none of his other five albums took more than four months to reach Gold.  He's never had a platinum-selling album and hasn't had a platinum-certified single since  "The Boss" from his 2008 album Trilla.

He did have two singles gain Gold certification in 2014, it just took them over two years to get there:

Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group isn't even a source of success for him. Last May, Phil Jackson tried to use all the Zen he could muster to fix Maybach Music Group to return to its glory days. In those 10 months, Rockie Fresh went from dropping three projects in 2013 on MMG to 0 in 2014, Stalley and Omarion's albums sold 26,000 copies in their first weeks combined and Meek Mill was sentenced to a six-month prison bid a week after he announced his Dreams Worth More Than Money album would be released last September. The album has been postponed and with MMG's most successful artist, Wale, complaining about Ross and the label not promoting his music, Ross has as much of a real music empire as Terrence Howard.

According to Google Trends, October 2011 was by far the month with the most public interest in Rick Ross. What happened in October 2011?  He had an interview with GQ. He released his God Forgives, I Don't promotional singles "You The Boss" with Nicki Minaj and the Just Blaze-produced "I Love My Bitches". But what REALLY happened with Rick Ross in October 2011?

On October 14th, 2011 Rick Ross suffered two consecutive seizures on two different flights within hours of each other. October 14th and October 15th are the days of most public interest in Rick Ross according to Google Trends, meaning those are the two days in his 10 year career where people cared the most about Rick Ross. When they thought he was dying. Interest actually dropped near its lowest in October 2011 on October 7th, the day "You The Boss" was released officially for purchase and interest drastically dropped by 70% on October 16th, the day the public found out Ross was released from the hospital

PREVIOUSLY: Frank Underwood Fixes Five Rap Careers: Kanye West

Ross is venturing dangerously close to the edge of musical purgatory where your music is simply an advertisement for the drama that is your life and your art is ancillary instead of central (see: rapper Game). House of Cards' Frank Underwood has a two-pronged solution to turn Rick Ross back into the biggest boss you've seen thus far, and it doesn't even involve Lemon Pepper chicken. 

Solution 1-A:

FEMA Administrator: "Unemployment does not constitute a natural disaster, Mr. President

Frank Underwood: "The Stafford Act gives me full authority to define an emergency."

FEMA Administrator: "But sir, we only got about $3 billion left in the disaster relief fund and we're about to go into hurricane season."

In Season 3, Frank Underwood's approval rating was sleeping with the fishes and Peter Russo when the Democratic leadership informed him they would not be supporting his re-election and advised he not run. To avoid becoming a "footnote in history", according to Underwood's own words in Episode 5, he knew he had one option to regain the public's renewed love: create jobs. He devised the America Works legislation which aimed to create 10 million jobs with $500 billion of federal spending mostly from reducing entitlements (Social Security, Medicaid, etc). Now, no matter if the President of the United States is on Netflix or C-Span, the economy is in tatters and $500 billion is not just lying around. When Congress subsequently denied passing the bill into federal law, he got creative in order to 1. force Congress' hand and 2. give the American people tangible evidence he can get them jobs. 

So, what do you do as President of the United States when Congress is trying to check your ass from unbalancing the nation's budget for a glorified reelection campaign in the face of historically low approval ratings? You fire the Director of Homeland Security, assume his role temporarily while you find his replacement, then force FEMA to reapprorpiate the entire $3 billion meant for helping keeping natural disasters from becoming catastrophes to America Works under the claim that "unemployment is an emergency" because people are dying without work. 

That devious ingenuity and creative crisis management at the highest level is exactly what will save Rick Ross' career. Now, Rick Ross can hire all the greasy chicken flingers, men to guard the enormity of his body and bloggers turned executives he wants but that alone would not make a big enough impact on the 8.7 million+ people unemployed to increase public interest. Underwood would advise Ross to identify what was the core of his appeal during his height of popularity and find ancillary means to recreate that core. In other words, Frank Underwood would advise Ross to create hits. But, for Ross, that is easier grunted than done.  

Ross has never had a song reach higher than #30 on the Top 100 on Billboard in his career and has only had one song ("Sanctified") reach the Top 25 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip Hop songs in the past four years. Last month, Ross partnered with Dina Marto's Twelve Music Group to begin a talent search for the next hitmaker for Maybach Music Group on their joint platform "Artist First". Frank Underwood would advise Ross to use this new "Artist First" talent search to not try and find a long term artist, but someone with a hit that Ross can be featured.

Underwood would advise Ross to redistribute funds allocated for albums that will probably fail to the Ross Needs A Hit Fund under the official label of Artist First, like Underwood did with FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund for America Works. The millions of dollars set aside to create and promote Stalley, Gunplay, Omarion and Rockie Fresh's eventual album flops that will eat at MMG's, and more importantly, Atlantic Records' bottom line should be mostly used to hire the best producers and songwriters to help the prospective talents make the hit Ross needs. To not draw ire from his own artists and justify the reappropriation, Underwood would advise Ross to make those artists a part of the Artist First campaign. Pay them a small portion of the reappropriated Artist First fund as a salary for being talent judges and sell it to them as album promotion.  

A weekly YouTube series of the latest entrants in the talent search showcasing the songs they crafted would keep the public satiated while Ross searches for the hit. FOX's hit drama show Empire, about a fictional music family produced "You're So Beautiful" last week and it has already charted on Billboard. Ross would only need to spit a verse on the song for it to be one of his hits as Billboard attributes a song charting to all the artists featured. Yes, if you are simply featured on the song. That's how Drake and Nicki Minaj are able to trump artists such as The Beatles and Madonna who normally did not collaborate with other artists. Frank Underwood employed this method of progression by division of work in Episode 5 of Season 3 when he convinced Deputy House Minority Whip (and swirl supporter) Jackie Sharp to run a sham Presidential campaign in order to reduce the amount of woman votes his presidential opponent Heather Dunbar was receiving, thus making his job at winning the Democratic nomination that much easier. 

But, simply making one hit single does nothing if the image associated with it is acrimoniously received and not believed.

Check out Part Two of Frank Underwood's master plan to fix Rick Ross' career later this week. 

PREVIOUSLY: Frank Underwood Fixes Five Rap Careers: Kanye West