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Rapper Rick Ross can keep his stage name thanks to the First Amendment, a California judge ruled on Thursday. He was battling a legal challenged from “Freeway” Ricky Ross, a former Los Angeles cocaine kingpin.
Ricky Ross heard about Rick Ross while in prison when he read an article about William Roberts II, who is best known by rap fans as “Rick Ross.” After his 13-year prison term ended, he filed a lawsuit against Roberts, Warner Bros. Records, Universal Music and Jay Z for $10 million, reports The Hollywood Reporter. At first, Ross faced legal challenges, since he filed the suit in 2006, years after Roberts began using the “Rick Ross” name. Ross then appealed.
According to the LA Times, California appeals court Judge Roger Boren ruled on the suit, siding with Roberts.
“We recognize that Roberts' work — his music and persona as a rap musician — relies to some extent on plaintiff's name and persona,” Judge Boren wrote. “Roberts chose to use the name 'Rick Ross.' He raps about trafficking in cocaine and brags about his wealth.” Judge Boren noted that these are just elements of Roberts’ work and do not make up the entirety of what he raps about.
Essentially, Judge Boren stated that since Roberts’ work is not exclusively about the life of a cocaine drug pin like Ross, he has created completely unique works of art as protected by the First Amendment.
XXLMag reports that Roberts recently released a new track, with him rapping on Kanye West’s “Bound 2.”