Friday, May 01, 2009

Adventures in Press Releases

I get a lot of press releases from various hip-hop-related PR companies. Some, like Audible Treats, are great because they include links to free MP3s by indie rappers I actually like. That's how I found out about Del Tha Funky Homosapien's new free album, The Funky Man, the Stimulus Package, which I've downloaded but not listened to.

Then I get random hip-hop-related gossip, like the following, about former drug dealer Ricky Ross (not to be confused with cocaine rapper/former corrections officer Rick Ross [who swears in the most recent XXL that he was only working as a prison guard for illegitimate, illegal purposes][and who also has yet another album out]). What confuses me about this is that Ricky Ross has a social networking site. Why? Why do former drug dealers who have spent the last twenty years in prison need their own social networking site?


Texarkana, TX...On Monday, May 4th, Freeway Ricky Ross will finally be released from prison after serving 20 years for being a "drug kingpin." The real Ricky Ross oversaw a Los Angeles based multi-state drug operation in the early 1980's, which earned upwards of $2 million dollars per day at its height. After L.A.P.D. set up a sting operation to bring him down (The Freeway Taskforce), Ricky finally turned himself in, weeks after a rogue police officer attempted to set him up and murder him in an alley. Ricky was sentenced to prison and released in 1996. After 6 months, his former cocaine distributor, who was working for the CIA (unbeknownst to Ricky), asked Ricky for a favor - it turned out to be a set up, and in 1996, Ricky Ross was sentenced to life in prison for orchestrating the purchase of over 100 kilos of cocaine from an undercover federal agent.

Ross' sentence was later reduced through appeals and after a series of explosive articles by the late Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gary Webb. Webb wrote a series titled "Dark Alliance" for the San Jose Mercury News, which exposed the C.I.A.'s role in importing cocaine into black communities to fund Sandinistas in El Salvador, as part of the Iran-Contra scandal. That series turned into the best-selling book, "Dark Alliance," that blew the lid off of the alleged CIA complicity in the importation of cocaine into the US, creating the exceptionally profitable, and damaging, crack cocaine epidemic spread through many inner city neighborhoods. Congressional Hearings, in the late-90s, found the book's facts to be true.

As Ricky Ross' story reads like a page-turning novel or a blockbuster film, it has inspired rappers to name themselves after him, and even retell his stories as their own exploits, gaining international success. Although a pawn in a bigger scheme, Ricky realized that the damage done to inner city neighborhoods was unacceptable. He has devoted himself to making a difference in his community by teaching financial literacy to urban youth and teaching legal ways to financially empower themselves. When Ricky first went to prison, he was illiterate - the educational system in South Central L.A. had failed him, even though he went on to become a multi-millionaire savvy at numerous legitimate businesses, and a tennis pro. Reading a book a week during his lengthy incarceration has since made Ricky wise beyond his years.

Ricky oversaw an empire that reached numerous states and that is rumored to have brought in millions of dollars a day at its height. His plan is to return to society and accomplish that again, but this time through legal means. Upon Ricky Ross' release, he is focusing on:

* a book and a film (currently seeking deals for both)
* a new record label in conjunction with industry legend Wendy Day
* a Foundation to help innercity youth at risk
* a reality TV show
* his social networking site which he built while incarcerated

A film crew is following Ricky's release from prison and his trek across the country to a halfway house in California where he will interact with, and impact youth in juvenile detention centers along the way. Already the topic of one of the most successful episodes of BET's American Gangster series (1st Season), the real Ricky Ross is a cultural icon and hero in communities across the US. Now he is able to make positive moves with that status.

Ricky can be reached at or through his social networking site. He will be available for interviews beginning the week of May 11, 2009. For more info: 404.474.1999 Wendy Day.

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