In March of 2006, Rick Ross would release his breakout single, “Hustlin,” in support of his debut studio album Port of Miami. The track would crack the Billboard Hot 100 chart while Port of Miami hit the top of the Billboard 200.
During a recent appearance on fellow former NBA stars, Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson’s All The Smoke podcast, Jamal Crawford says Jay-Z was “mesmerized” the first time he heard Ross’ breakout track.
“JAY-Z, I remember we went to eat after a game, and he was playing Rick Ross … ‘Everyday I’m Hustlin,'” he remembered. “And Jay was mesmerized by the song. He was like, ‘Whip it, whip it real hard!’ He kept saying that part, he loved it. And that was my introduction to Rick Ross, through JAY-Z. Ross has never heard that story.”
Jay-Z, who was the president and CEO of Def Jam at the time, signed Rick Ross after hearing the track, following a bidding war between himself Diddy’s Bad Boy Records, and Irv Gotti’s Murda Inc.
“We’re shooting [the ‘Hustlin’ music] video right now, and that’s an urgent project for us,” JAY-Z told MTV in March 2006. “We need that one. We have a wide range of music [at Island Def Jam], everything from Fall Out Boy to The Killers to Rihanna. I just want everybody to know that we are still in the rap business.”
Jay-Z would eventually hop on the “Hustlin” remix alongside fellow Def Jam signee, Jeezy, as the three delivered boisterous mafioso bars the iconic coke rap track.
Crawford revealed that it was actually Memphis Bleak who put Ross on Hov’s radar after a trip to Miami.
“[Memphis] Bleek actually told me about him first,” Jay told MTV. “Bleek went down to Miami, and he told me that dude was nice. [Ross] fell off the radar for a while, then he popped back up with this record ‘Hustlin.’ He had this record poppin’ in Miami, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s the kid!'”
Do you remember the first time you heard Rick Ross’ “Hustlin”? Stay tuned for more on Rick Ross and other hip-hop news.