One of the more interesting dilemmas in hip-hop right now has to be former drug lord "Freeway" Ricky Ross' lawsuit against the rapper Rick Ross (real name William Roberts) for "trademark infringement" on grounds of getting the name. In that lawsuit, Jay-Z is named as a co-defendant for signing him to Def Jam, and Ricky is suing for $10 million in damages and an injunction against the rapper Ross' upcoming senior album "Teflon Don" (currently set for July 20) being released. I don't claim to be a legal expert, but here's my prediction as to how the case will go.
Judge: Have you filed a trademark surrounding your name?
Ricky: Well, Your Honor, I didn't really...
Judge: CASE DISMISSED. Also, the plaintiff is fined for filing a frivolous lawsuit.
Simple as that. But, knowing how inquisitive us Americans are, here are various other legal holes in Ross' lawsuit.
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1. There's also a well-regarded rapper named Freeway. Why did you not mention him in the suit as well? (Jay-Z signed him too, plus he too has substantial facial hair like you). Perhaps you were scared of facing Hip-Hop's wrath if you had tried blocking the release of "The Stimulus Package"?
2. This is just something rappers do to pay tribute. Do you see the Capone family suing Brad Jordan, Kiam Akasi Holley, or Rodriquez Smith? How about that crazy Panamanian ex-dictator's family suing Victor Santiago? Or the real Teflon Don suing Irvin Domingo Lorenzo Jr., Mario Mims, or Boo's old sidekick?
However, what it all boils down too is that tired old argument about "fakeness". Well, Ross has you beat right there too.
1. Yes, Mr. Roberts was a CO for one year in his late teens/early twenties. But as anyone who has a loved one behind bars will tell you, often times the COs are just as dirty (if not dirtier than) the inmates. For the right price, they can turn a blind eye to the gang fights, plus they often smuggle contraband in jail, whether to satisfy allies or to set up enemies. So the CO job has a lot of credibility.
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2. On the other hand, Freeway Ricky was heavily involved in the drug game, and played a big part in the crack epidemic (which many have accused the CIA of helping with too, but that's another story). Plus, it is a well-known fact that Ricky broke the #1 rule of the street code. That's right, he told on his co-conspirators to avoid a life sentence with no chance at parole (that's true snitching, not the BS definition I'll cover in a future column).
3. Mr. Roberts is a successful rapper, gives back to the community, and had openly stated at the beginning of his career that he seeks to make enough where he'll be financially secure enough not to have to rap about all that negative stuff. On the other hand, Freeway Ricky was just a pure cancer to our culture, and played a huge role in the crack epidemic.
4. Just listen to Mr. Roberts' third verse on "Valley of Death." His full statement on the whole CO thing can be found there.
So, after further review...the rapper Rick Ross gets more props than the ex-drug dealer "Freeway" Ricky Ross.
Come back next week when I discuss the controversy surrounding the Swizzy-Alicia-Mashonda triangle and who is most likely to be true. Till then, as Mike Dreams would say, "peace easy."