Your major obits are due at the start of class Friday, April 18. No late assignments will be accepted, which means you’ll get a zero on an exercise that’s worth as much as 500 points. Don’t tempt fate; get started on yours.
For a while, we’ve been discussing obits, and each of you have had a chance to write a sample obit or two. Now, it’s time to do the full-blown obit of the celebrity you picked. To ensure you know what it should look like, I’m posting the Rick Ross obit again.
As you will notice, the Ross obit is well researched, and so should yours. Yours should also be free of factual errors, which will render your work worthless. Remember, I’m looking for depth in the obits you write, which means all of them should be well above 500 words.
We’ll talk about how to find and handle good, solid quotes on Wednesday or in an email. Also, you must have at least two people quoted in your obit.
Here’s the Ross obit to use as your template:
Rick Ross, the bald, rotund former corrections officer who used raw lyrics and a gangsta persona to catapult himself into the rarefied air of rap royalty, died of a heart attack Monday night while performing at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Ross was 37.
Ross collapsed on stage halfway through “I Love My Bitches,” one of his signature hits. He was taken to nearby Spring Valley Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead at 11:23 p.m. EST.
“Ross had become a respected rapper by depicting the life style of a boss, or a don, two words that he loved,” said Sasha Frere-Jones, a writer for The New Yorker. “He never cared to unpack the morals of the drug trade — what he reveled in was the security and relief of being fabulously wealthy.
“This was what his voice sold, the way (Frank) Sinatra once sold an implacable but supple kind of confidence.”
And Ross became wealthy, a multimillion-dollar man who flaunted and bragged about his wealth and his excesses in life – a life he built around the name of a man even more notorious than he would be: California cocaine czar “Freeway” Rick Ross.
The latter feuded with the former over the name, demanding answers as to why someone would hijack his infamous name.
“I was sitting in my cell and one of the young guys came in with a magazine and he’s like, ‘Rick, look at this guy, he’s stolen your name,’ ” Freeway Rick Ross said in a SPIN Magazine interview. “My first thought was that he didn’t ask for my permission. Another thought that came to my mind was that someone thought enough of me to name himself after me. Pretty amazing. My feelings were mixed. I mean, I wasn’t mad at him, but I was. I wanted to know more.”
The original Rick Ross, who later sued over his name, would learn plenty about the upstart Rick Ross, who was born William Leonard Roberts II on Jan. 28, 1977, in Carol City, Fla., an area much like the war zone that Los Angeles gangs had made the streets of South Central.
But Roberts’ world had its own challenges, and his was a world influenced by hard-core rappers like Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.
As a youth, Roberts and friends formed a rap group called the “Carol City Cartel,” which signed with Suave House Records, a small record label. A bigger label spotted Roberts and signed him to a solo contract.
He had already ditched his real name for Rick Ross, and he started to grow in the hip-hop trade through connections with Trick Daddy and Trina, Miami heavyweights in the rap game. Ross would see his talent used on mixed tapes or on another artist’s album.
His career took flight in 2006 with the release of “Hustlin’,” a single that touched off a bidding war for his talent. Jay-Z outbid rivals, and the mega-producer turned “Hustlin’” into a hit on the Hot R’n’B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
“It soon became the anthem of the summer; an ode to getting money and grinding,” one music critic said at the time. “’Port of Miami’ soon followed and what an album it would be.
“There’s a reason you heard Rick Ross blaring out of stereos, TV’s, and radios last year. The album is, simply put, a hood classic.”
Ross, indeed, had emerged as a hood classic, producing lyrics so raw and so real that even his detractors took notice. Praise came with harsh criticism as well, including from Rolling Stone, which called Ross a “character.”
“If there’s one thing Ross is really good at it’s playing Rick Ross,” the magazine said.
And play that character Ross did, using the gangsta persona to build a following that turned him into a must-listen-to rapper the past seven years. He spit out hits like “Diced Pineapples,” “Mafia Music” and “Super High” one after another, each as provocative and as lurid as the single before it. He had immersed himself into a world he had created, a world not too far removed from the one Freeway Rick Ross had created – hard drugs, guns and women … and money.
“A wise (and rich) man once said that money is an universal language,” one music critic wrote. “That’s the only language you need in today’s world, and Rick Ross spoke it fluent.”
In 2012, MTV named Ross the ”Hottest MC in the Game.” Yet inside all of his wealth and his notoriety, he and his lyrics proved a lightning rod for religious conservatives and women. He cut a date-rape track that led to a firestorm, leading Reebok to drop him as its spokesman.
He soon apologized, though perhaps too late to quiet his critics.
“Before I am an artist, I am a father, a son, and a brother to some of the most cherished women in the world,” he said. “So for me to suggest in any way that harm and violation be brought to a woman is one of my biggest mistakes and regrets.”
Besides his feud with the original Rick Ross, Ross has had ongoing fight with rapper 50 Cent and brushes with the law over his drug use. He and a girlfriend were the target of a drive-by shooting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., earlier this year. Neither was hurt.
“If you’ve got it, flaunt it; and even if you don’t, front like you do — at least, this was what Rick Ross successfully embodied,” Aarica West wrote for the Huffington Post. “Although much of what he rapped about seemed to be a fabricated, fanciful lifestyle, it’s clear that Ross had raw, undeniable talent; and enough confidence to show us how ‘bawse’ he was, or claimed to be.”
Ross, divorced from Robin Givens, is survived by a son William III and a daughter.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete.