Rick Ross looking for ‘dopest’ hip-hop artists on new reality show

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Maybach Music Group CEO William “Rick Ross” Roberts is moving from the recording world to TV — as a mentor on the new VH1 series “Signed.”

Ross, the acclaimed rapper and CEO of Maybach Music Group, joins Grammy-winning songwriter/producer The-Dream (Radio Killa Records) and Roc Nation A&R senior VP Lenny S. on the eight-episode series, which follows Ross, The-Dream and Lenny S. as they work to develop unsigned hip-hop and R&B artists in Atlanta. The artists will face challenges and eliminations; those who impress the moguls the most have the chance to the be signed to Maybach Music, Radio Killa Records or Roc Nation.

“The show was really a dope idea, and what made it different was [that]it wasn’t just about a show and us getting paid per episode,” says Ross. “It was really about the opportunity to get in front of the dopest artists in the US — male and female.

“I’m always looking for talent, so once I saw the extent that VH1 went through to put these artists in front of us I was on board,” he says. “When we decide to pick or sign an artist we spend our own money on this — so that’s what makes it unique.”

Ross says that, on the series, “what I want to see is something that I have never seen before. It’s a combination of your style, swag and the flow — that’s half of it — and now I need to see your hunger. If you fall down, are you going to get back up and be hungry? Will you refuse to lose? That’s what I’m looking for.”

Ross says that one artist in particular has already captured his interest. “I saw the struggle and the hustle at the same time in this person,” he says. “And when I had the conversation with the artist I asked, ‘You give me your word that you won’t stop for anything? Is this the plan on how you are going to feed your family? You’re not going to resort to anything else … That there’s no plan B?’”

But even though Ross found rap stardom after a career as a Florida correctional officer, he says there’s nothing wrong with having a backup plan. “It’s always wonderful if you can have 10 options. It’s a blessing,” he says. “But, realistically, a lot of times people don’t have [10 options]. “I tell people, ‘Follow your heart.’ I’m not the one to tell you what you should be and what you should do … Just put in your work.”

And when it comes to putting in that work Ross can still recall the first time he felt like a boss. “My boss moment came around the time I made my second or third album,” he says. “It may have been a certain dollar figure … I finally made it. But it wasn’t just about the dollar figure, it was about the investments that I was making and the track that I was on. But there’s still a lot of work for me to do. I’m still a student of the game.”

The 41-year-old single father of two now lives in the former Georgia home of heavyweight Evander Holyfield, which he purchased for $5.8 million. And with 109 rooms to occupy, Ross is looking to fill them.

“I wouldn’t say I’m looking for love, but I am looking for loyalty,” he says. “Loyalty is priceless. The marriages that survive are the ones where the men go to strip clubs. You got to have some fun.”

“Signed” Series premiere 9 p.m. Wednesday on VH1

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