Guns and drugs? Some rappers inflate hustler image

Thu Jun 4, 2009 7:36pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rick Ross sold hit albums rapping about selling crack cocaine but a revelation that he once worked as a prison guard threatened to end his career.

For a rapper cultivating a bad-boy image, a uniform put him on the wrong side of the law.

U.S. rappers often sell songs about drugs and guns based on "real-life" stories, but increasingly some of those stories are being exposed as embellishments aimed at helping them build successful careers, experts say.

"Some of the stories are fabricated and some of it is reality, and what they are doing is mixing the two," music executive Devyne Stephens said. "When you say you shot and killed somebody and you put it on a CD, nine times out of 10, you really didn't shoot and kill anybody."

Ross is a bearded, burly Miami rapper who brags of a cash-fueled, drug-boss life. His real name is William Leonard Roberts II but he takes his stage name from a drug trafficker.

So he was publicly humiliated when pictures surfaced of him last year through The Smoking Gun website looking clean-cut in a correctional officer's uniform.

Ross at first denied his past, then admitted it but maintained his drug-dealing tales of the street were true.

His third album, released in April and featuring titles such as "Rich off Cocaine," still sold well.   Continued...

<p>Rap artist Rick Ross performs at the 8th annual BMI Urban Awards at the Wilshire theatre in Beverly Hills, California, in this September 4, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files</p>