Thanks to the Constitution, Rick Ross gets to keep his name. For years Freeway Ricky Ross, the former cocaine kingpin, has been seeking retribution via lawsuits for the Miami rapper’s use of his name. However, after the OG Ricky Ross’ latest appeal, last week a judge ruled in favor of the rapper, citing that he is protected under the First Amendment.
The judge did conced that the “MC Hammer” rapper did consider Freeway Rick Ross’ persona when choosing his name.
Reports The Hollywood Reporter:
“We recognize that Roberts’ work—his music and persona as a rap musician—relies to some extent on plaintiff’s name and persona,” writes Judge Boren. “Roberts chose to use the name ‘Rick Ross.’ He raps about trafficking in cocaine and brags about his wealth. These were ‘raw materials’ from which Roberts’ music career was synthesized. But these are not the ‘very sum and substance’ of Roberts’ work.”
However, and interestingly, the judge believes Rozay has a right to use the name because his music is basically fiction.
Ultimately, Judge Boren finds that the hip-hop star’s persona is entitled to protection as expressive speech because it’s transformative.
“Roberts created a celebrity identity, using the name Rick Ross, of a cocaine kingpin turned rapper,” says the ruling. “He was not simply an impostor seeking to profit solely off the name and reputation of Rick Ross. Rather, he made music out of fictional tales of dealing drugs and other exploits—some of which related to plaintiff. Using the name and certain details of an infamous criminal’s life as basic elements, he created original artistic works.”
So Rick Ross’ raps being fiction is what saved him in court? The irony.